People who own local businesses often make the mistake of ignoring or failing to maintain their online reputation. Don’t miss out on the many benefits of online reputation management for your local business!
From restaurants to plumbers, every local business needs a great online reputation.
Your business’ online reputation matters, and that’s true regardless of how much business you actually do online. Whether you’re a mom-and-pop coffee shop or operate a full-blown retail store on your website, you absolutely need to take ownership of your business’ reviews and online reputation — the future and success of your business depend on it!
If you’ve had a chance to read our last blog — The Importance Of Reviews For Local Businesses — then you already have a good understanding of why reviews are so essential for your business’ online reputation. Today, we’ll be going over the many things you can do as a local business to build your business’ online reputation and keep it strong.
10 Reputation Management Tips Every Local Business Needs to Know
#1. Commit to providing great customer service.
A lot of things go into your business’ online reputation, but the most visible aspect of that reputation to prospective customers consists of the reviews your customers have given you. While a negative review here or there won’t hurt you, most business owners would prefer to have as many five-star reviews as possible. But here’s the thing — in order to get five-star reviews, you have to provide five-star service.
Great customer service is something that every business needs to prioritize, especially when you consider how much competition your typical local business has. For example, say you run a pool service company. Most other pool service companies offer similar services as you, and for a similar price as well. So what can you do to make your business stand out? Provide the kind of customer service that will wow your customers and make them want to go online to tell the world about it.
#2. Claim your business listings.
The first step any business should take in building and maintaining their online reputation is to claim your business listings on any and every possible review and/or directory platform. After all, your business is already listed, so you may as well reap all of the benefits that come with claiming the listing. Why is this important? Here are a few of the top reasons:
- Build trust with your audience – When you claim your listing, you’re also making sure that any information about your business is accurate. That’s also why consumers tend to trust verified listings more than nonverified listings.
- Respond to reviews – One of the biggest benefits of claiming your listing is that it allows you to respond to reviews about your business.
- Increase your business’ visibility – Having multiple verified listings means that a link to your website exists on all of those sites — trusted sites that Google sees as authoritative — will help to improve your business’ rankings in the SERP (search engine results pages), making you more visible and getting your name in front of more people.
#3. Prioritize social media management.
Social media management is an essential part of any effective marketing strategy these days, but it’s simply not enough to have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc. You need to be active on social media. Social media a powerful tool for any business owner this day and age, because these platforms allow you to interact with a wider audience, develop your brand and learn all about the customers you’re targeting.
Another big benefit of being more active on social media is that it will help your posts — as well as your website — rank better in the SERP. This is especially important if there’s any negative information about your business out there. The more positive content you have, the further down in the results the negative information will be pushed.
A good social media management strategy includes researching your competition, getting to know your audience, sharing your story and posting interesting, original content on a regular basis.
#4. Pay attention to your online reputation.
Your online reputation is there — either growing or diminishing — all of the time, whether you are actively managing it or not. You can’t wish your business’ online reputation away, and ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist won’t help, either. That’s why, if you take nothing else away from this article, we hope you learn why it’s essential to pay close attention to your online reputation.
How can you possibly build the kind of online reputation you want, if you don’t know what kind of online reputation your business already has? It’s imperative that you monitor your online reputation closely so that you can be proactive about addressing any issues that come up. Plus, when you have a better understanding of what the online reputation your business already has, you can form a better plan to help you mold it into what you want it to be.
A few things you can do to stay on top of your business’ online reputation:
- Set up Google Alerts – Google will notify you when new content containing keywords you preselect — like your business name — is published.
- Monitor your reviews – Reviews can be published across a variety of platforms, but no matter where they are posted — or whether they are negative or positive — it’s important to respond as soon as you can, which means that you need to monitor your reviews.
- Monitor blog comments – Blogging, as we’ll learn more about soon, is a great reputation management tool, but if you’ve opened comments up on your blog, you need to make it a point to monitor those comments.
- Ask your customers! – It never hurts to ask your customers what they think about your business and how it’s perceived online.
#5. Write blogs on your website!
SEO is a vital part of your business’ online reputation management strategy. When you can ensure that the first few results in the SERP for specific keywords consist of your website, your Facebook page, your Instagram page, your LinkedIn page, etc., you can push down any results that may not be so favorable or positive for your business. But how do you ensure that your website ranks well on Google and other search engines? Publish new content on your website regularly!
The phrase, “content is king,” has been a mantra in the SEO industry since the beginning, and it still rings true today. Blogging is one of the best ways to do that, and as an added bonus, you can use your blogs to better inform and educate your customers. Blogs are also very shareable on social media sites, and they help to establish your reputation as a thought leader in your industry.
#6. Start asking for reviews.
A lot of business owners get hung up about the idea of asking their clients for reviews, and some of them even think that reviews that are asked for somehow aren’t legitimate. However, if you’re really dedicated to building an effective online reputation for your business, failing to ask for reviews is no longer an option.
A lot of people simply don’t write reviews on their own, because they don’t think about it. And if they do think about it, it’s probably because they are unhappy and want to vent a little about their experience. The simple fact is that people are much more likely to write a review on their own if they’re unhappy than if they were satisfied with their experience.
Asking for reviews helps to ensure that all customers, whether they’re happy or not, will get a chance to share their feedback with you and the world. Plus, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for reviews! As long as you’re not bribing customers to write a review or directing what your customers are saying in the reviews, there’s absolutely no reason to feel uneasy about asking for a review.
#7. Respond to every review.
While it’s important to ask for reviews, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to control what your customers choose to put in those reviews. You can only control what you do and how you respond to their feedback, and you absolutely should, regardless of whether that feedback comes in the form of a glowing, five-star review or a bleak, one-star review.
When someone leaves a five-star review about your business, make sure that you thank them for taking the time to write that review. As we mentioned, writing reviews doesn’t exactly come naturally to most people, so recognize the effort they took to write the review. And when someone leaves a negative review, it’s even more important to respond to it!
If the negative review consists of honest feedback for your business, take it to heart, apologize and take steps to make it right. And if the negative review consists of misleading or, worse, wasn’t even written one of your customers, responding will help you to set the record straight.
The bottom line is that responding to reviews allows you to control the conversation.
#8. Learn from your business’ reviews!
You can learn a lot about how your customers perceive your business by reading and paying attention to your online reviews. Of course, stuff happens, and one bad experience isn’t necessarily indicative of the kind of service you offer day in and day out. However, that doesn’t mean that those one-off issues aren’t important, or that you can’t learn anything from reading your reviews.
One of the best ways to learn what areas of your service need a little improvement is to look for overarching themes in your reviews — particularly the negative ones. For example, if eight people have complained about your technicians showing up late, it’s not a one-off issue — it’s an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed.
#9. Know what to do about fake reviews.
Fake reviews, as well as competitor reviews, occasionally happen. But like with everything else, it’s how you deal with those fake reviews that makes the biggest difference. Here’s what to do when you get a fake review:
- Never point out that a review is fake – If you craft a response to a fake review, it’s not helpful to point out that it’s fake — this will only make you look petty. Instead, say something like, “We don’t have a record of having done business with you in the past, but we’d love to address your concern. We invite you to call or email us to discuss your experience.”
- Flag the review with the website’s administrator – Some review sites allow businesses to flag reviews that aren’t appropriate. However, you should know that it can take a long time for a fake review to come down — and that’s if it comes down at all. But it doesn’t hurt to try!
- Generate more authentic reviews! – The very best way to deal with fake reviews is to drown them out with legitimate reviews, so make it a point to start asking for them!
#10. Consider hiring a reputation management specialist.
An effective reputation management strategy won’t happen overnight and isn’t a one-time thing. Reputation management is a long-term strategy that has a lot of moving parts, and it can be a lot for a business owner to take on. If you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to your business’ online reputation, you aren’t doing it any favors.
Hiring a professional to help you manage your business’ online reputation will free you up to do what you do best — which is running your business!
Start managing your business’ online reputation with Top Rated Local®!
Your business’ online reputation can make or break your success, and we hope that these tips will give you a good idea about how to create the kind of reputation you want. One of the easiest things you can do to start taking control over your online reputation is to claim your listing with Top Rated Local today!