Tips for Writing More Helpful Reviews

Want to write more helpful online reviews?

Reviews are meant to provide businesses with real feedback from real customers. They are also meant to give prospective customers the information they need to make a decision about working with the business. However, not all reviews are made equal, and not all reviews are actually helpful.

It’s tempting to use reviews as a means of venting frustration about a business or even bragging about great customer service. But, if you really want to write reviews that are helpful to businesses and consumers, you need to learn how to write them the right way.

How to Write Reviews That are Actually Helpful

#1. Try not to get too specific.

While it’s not a good idea to generalize about a business in a review, it’s also not overly helpful if you include a lot of specifics, like the name of the server or technician you had.

A business’s employees absolutely represent the business, but it’s important to realize that employees come and go. If you had a bad experience with one server, for example, it might not be representative of the kind of experience you had overall.

Many review sites also don’t allow doxing (publishing identifying or private information online) of any kind and will take down reviews that violate their policies.

#2. Give context for your review.

Saying that you weren’t satisfied with your service is perfectly acceptable, but if you really want to provide a review that’s helpful to others and gives the business in question feedback they can use, you should also make sure that you give your review more context.

For example, let’s say that a technician wasn’t able to fix the problem you called about or made a mistake in the process. That can definitely create a negative experience, and it’s perfectly valid to write a review about it. However, if they couldn’t complete the repair because the part they needed wasn’t available or the technician bent over backwards to fix their mistake, it paints a very different picture of the business.

#3. Be professional!

One of the fastest ways to ensure that your review is immediately discounted by anyone who reads it is to resort to name calling or pettiness when writing your review. Even if you have a legitimate complaint, personal attacks will outshine any feedback you may be giving. Personal attacks also make you appear unreasonable.

Always try to be as professional as possible when writing a review. If you’re upset, give yourself a few minutes to cool off and gather your thoughts. I know it can be tempting to vent your frustrations in an online review, but if your aim is truly to give feedback and to help other consumers make the right decisions, it needs to be professional.

#4. Try to be objective.

A lot of things can affect the way that we perceive the world around us. Some of those things are in the business’s control – such as the promptness and friendliness of their customer service, the quality of their work or products, etc. — but others have very little to do with the business, like if you’ve had a bad day.

Try to be objective and limit your feedback to only things the business can control. Take a few minutes to ask yourself if your complaints are the result of what really happened or just how you felt at the time. Remember, the point of your review is not to give your personal experience but to give a snapshot of the kind of experience the business provides.

#5. Be honest.

Honesty is incredibly important when writing helpful online reviews. It does neither the business or anyone reading your review any good if you exaggerate or lie about your experience. Defamation isn’t acceptable under any circumstance, including in an online review.

Remember that honesty is always the best policy. Don’t forget that policy when you’re writing online reviews.

#6. Talk about a range of elements.

As I said, an online review is supposed to give other readers a good idea of what working with a business is like. That means that you should try to be cognizant of the entire customer experience rather than choosing to review a single aspect, like punctuality, wait times, or customer service.

If you had a negative experience with a customer service representative, but the technician who helped you was friendly and accommodating, make sure to include all of those things in your review.

It’s for this reason that Top Rated Local® allows you to rate businesses based on the five pillars of the customer experience in addition to writing a review.

#7. Be open to updating your review.

Your review doesn’t have to be set in stone, and it’s completely OK to go back and update your review if you’ve received more information. Sometimes, when a business hears negative feedback, they’ll bend over backwards to make it right. This is the perfect kind of information to include in your updated review because it shows people that, while the business did make a mistake, they were also willing to make it right.

You might also learn new information that changes the way you looked at the service you received. For example, maybe you were upset about a long wait time, but after you learn that the business was operating with minimal staff because of sickness or personal issues, it’s easy to understand how that could affect your wait.

Review the local businesses near you with Top Rated Local.

Want to write a review about a recent experience you’ve had with a local business? If so, turn to Top Rated Local! As I mentioned, we take reviews one step further by allowing you to rate businesses based on the five pillars of the customer experience — quality, value, timeliness, experience, and satisfaction — and you’ll also have a quick and easy way to access a business’s reviews from across the web.

Not only is Top Rated Local a great place to write reviews; it’s also your go-to local directory when you’re looking for the right local business for your needs. Get started today!

How to Get More Out of Reading Online Reviews

Reading reviews has become a key part of researching a local business.

When you’re doing a local business search online, say for an HVAC company or a plumber, you need a way to sort through all of the results. Depending on where you live, there might be hundreds of options to choose from. And, the only way to differentiate one local business from another is to read its online reviews.

Now, more than ever, it’s critical that you hire the right local business for your needs. With coronavirus, you want to know that you can trust whoever you hire to take your health and safety seriously, as well as that of their employees.

Reading reviews is a great way to determine whether or not you can trust a local business; however, it’s not always as straightforward as it sounds. Reviews can actually be incredibly misleading, especially if you always take them at face value.

Knowing how to read reviews is an important step toward getting the most out of them.

6 Tips for Reading and Learning From Online Reviews

#1. Read more than one review.

A single experience might sometimes be reflective of the overall experience you can expect from a local business, but that won’t always be the case. Whether the review is one-star or five, it’s not easy to learn much about a business from a single review. In order to get a true understanding of what kind of business it is, you need to read about more than one customer experience.

I would suggest reading between five and 10 reviews for a business you’re considering working with. And, make sure that you read reviews with a range of star ratings. Reading only five-star reviews will skew your view of a local business just as much as reading only one-star reviews. You need to read about good, bad, and neutral experiences to get the best idea of what working with a business is really like.

#2. Read the most recent reviews.

A lot can change for a small business in a matter of months, or even weeks. Employees come and go; management can change; suppliers and equipment can change. Someone’s experience eight months ago may not be relevant to the current customer experience a business offers. That’s why it’s important to always read the latest reviews.

Some businesses experience change faster than others. Restaurants, for example, tend to see high turnover rates and frequently change up their menus — both of which can affect the customer experience. An architecture firm, on the other hand, is much more likely to have the same team of architects as they did six months ago and probably provide the same kind of experience.

#3. Read reviews from multiple sources.

A business that has a 5.0 average star rating on Google won’t necessarily have that same stellar rating on Yelp or Angie’s List. Reading a business’ reviews on one source gives you only part of the picture. To truly understand what working with a business will be like, you need to gain an understanding of their online reputation, overall, and you do that by reading reviews from multiple review sources and local business directories.

Instead of visiting five different review sites to read up on a business, visit Top Rated Local®! Top Rated Local is your all-in-one source to all of a business’ reviews across every verified review site it’s listed on. Best of all, a business Rating Score™ — which is out of 100.00 and calculated based on the number of review sites a business is listed on, the number of reviews a business has, the rating of those reviews, and more — will give you a good idea of what their online reputation looks like, overall.

#4. Read the responses to any negative reviews.

Local businesses are run by human beings, and part of being a human being means making mistakes from time to time. But, when, for example, a plumber makes a mistake fixing the pipes in your home or a roofer makes a mistake while repairing your roof, it doesn’t exactly make for a positive experience.

Reading negative reviews is important because it helps you understand what kind of mistakes a business has made in the past and how often it’s made those same mistakes. But, it’s also very important to read the business’ response to those negative reviews. While reading the response, look for a business that’s willing to learn from its mistakes and do whatever it takes to make the situation right.

#5. Look for themes.

It’s sometimes difficult to separate an individual reviewer’s experience from the overall customer experience a business offers. This is especially true if the reviewer in question has made their review specific to their individual experience, which isn’t always reflective of the typical experience. For example, using a specific employee’s name, or talking about a specific experience.

The best way to get a real idea of what working with a local business is like, look for common themes while reading reviews. Have multiple people praised the timeliness of their service or complained about the attitudes of their employees? If one or two customers have commented on something, you can probably chalk it up to individual experience, but if five or six have, it’s worth paying attention to.

#6. Watch out for nasty personal attacks.

A few months ago, I was looking for an accounting firm near me. As I was reading one firm’s reviews, I noticed a single one-star review that was bringing its average star rating down. When I read it, I was surprised to learn that the complaint had very little to do with the business at all. In fact, this woman was upset about the way the accounting firm’s branded vehicle had been parked at the grocery store and wanted the world to know.

While I appreciate how frustrating it is when someone doesn’t stay in the lines when parking, I don’t think it has much bearing on their accounting services. Personal attacks like these just aren’t helpful to anyone who is truly interested in learning about a business’ customer experience, so take them with a grain of salt.

Reviews are great, but it’s important to know how to read them. Write reviews for the local businesses you love and use our local business directory to find the best local businesses near you! Get started today!

Why Writing Reviews is a Great Way to Support Local Businesses

Looking for a way to support the local businesses you love?

It’s no secret that small businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus — and the social distancing requirements necessary to prevent it from spreading. Some small businesses have been able to remain open by changing the way they serve their customers, but others have had to temporarily close their doors completely.

There are lots of ways that you can lend financial support to the local businesses you love. This may include purchasing gift cards, pre-paying for future appointments, and ordering take-out or delivery from restaurants. But, what if your budget doesn’t allow you to financially support the local businesses you love?

There’s one surefire way to support your favorite local businesses without having to spend a dime — write reviews! How does writing reviews benefit the business you love?

5 Ways Writing Reviews Can Impact Local Businesses

#1. It will help them stand out online.

Thanks to the quarantine much of the country is under stay at home orders and lots of people are now online a lot more than they used to be. That means many businesses are also online, which means that your favorite local businesses have a great deal of competition online. A lot of people are under the misconception that all a business needs to be competitive online is a website, but that’s just not the case. The good news, though, is that writing reviews is a great way to help your favorite local businesses stand out online.

The first thing a consumer does when researching a local business online is to look at its reviews. If a business has lots of five-star reviews and a decent overall star average, it helps to build trust and credibility. You can help by writing your own review of your past experience!

#2. It will help them be more visible online.

The most affordable way for a business to be visible online is to show up on page one of the organic search results. Otherwise, that business has to spend money on paid search ads, which can be expensive and especially difficult for businesses facing budgetary issues. Luckily, writing a review can actually help your favorite local business rank higher in the organic search results.

Google’s search ranking algorithm is a multi-faceted, ever-changing beast, but one thing has always remained the same — reviews have always been an important part of it. Think about it, if 10 businesses describe themselves as “the best plumber in Denver,” it doesn’t mean much, but when multiple customers say that about a business in its reviews, it really means something to consumers, and therefore, to Google. By reviewing your favorite local businesses, you can actually help them to be more visible online.

#3. It helps them better serve you.

There are a lot of great reasons to stick with your favorite local businesses, even though they may not be perfect. After all, no one is perfect, but if a business has proven to you that they care and are willing to do what it takes to provide you with a good experience, I’d say that they’re worth it. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t give them feedback.

Five-star reviews are great for any business, but they’re not always indicative of your experience, and that’s OK. You should never lie about your experience with a business, even if you think it will help them. Believe it or not, even a one-star review can help your favorite local business. It may not do much for their average star rating, but it allows you to give them feedback they can use to get better. Plus, when they reach out to you to make it right, you can always go back and revise your star rating and even your review.

#4. It informs other consumers about your experience.

Did you know that most consumers these days trust online reviews written by complete strangers just as much as they trust a personal recommendation from a friend or family member? Surprisingly enough, reviews have become the modern-day version of word of mouth, and by writing your own, you can inform others about your experience.

Reviews aren’t meant to be a platform for venting frustrations or giving undue praise. At the heart of reviews, they’re about sharing your real experience with a business that can inform others of the experience they’re likely to have. If you’ve had a good experience with a local business (or several good experiences) in the past, sharing that experience will absolutely help them perform better online and drum up more business.

#5. It leads to more sales!

When someone reads a business’ reviews, not only are they looking for a good overall average star rating and plenty of five-star reviews, they’re also looking for current reviews. It doesn’t matter if a business has hundreds or even thousands of reviews, if those reviews are months old, they won’t help all that much.

Writing reviews right now will help the local businesses you love remain relevant online, because it helps to keep their reviews current. Not only does this help a business be more visible online and build more trust with potential customers, it will also lead directly to more sales. As much as 63 percent of consumers are more likely to actually make a purchase if the site has current rankings.

Start reviewing your favorite local businesses with Top Rated Local® today!

If you’re not in the position right now to support your favorite local businesses, that’s OK. You’re not alone, and there’s no need to skip your rental payment or electricity bill in order to support the local businesses you love. In fact, you can make an impact just by writing a review.

Support the local businesses that make your community what it is by writing reviews on Top Rated Local today!

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Reviews

Reading reviews is a great way to get to know a local business before deciding to work with them.

It used to be that when someone wanted to work with a local business, the first thing they’d do is ask a friend or a family member for a recommendation. Barring that, they’d probably look in a phone book.

Those days are long gone, and while word-of-mouth recommendations are as powerful as they ever were, people just don’t seek them out like they used to. Nowadays, instead of looking in a phonebook or asking for a personal recommendation, people start their local business search online.

The problem is that, when you search “plumber near me,” for example, depending on where you live, you could get dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of search results. With all of those businesses to choose from, finding the right one for your needs can feel almost impossible. That’s where reviews come in.

Reviews help us get to know a business a little more before we take the leap and decide to work with them. And, these days, most people trust online reviews just as much as they trust a personal recommendation from a family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker.

The Downside of Online Reviews

Like I said, reviews make us feel comfortable and help us to understand what working with a local business is really like before we even call them. However, there’s one major problem with online reviews — they’re extremely subjective.

Think about it: a five-star experience to you may be a three-star, or even a one-star, experience to someone else. We all value the same things — customer service, timeliness, quality, etc. — but our standards are widely different.

Not only do differing standards make it impossible to establish a baseline, but our individual standards can vary by our moods. For example, if you’re having a bad day, you’re much less likely to be patient when there’s a delay, even if it’s something that’s out of the business’ hands. On the other hand, when you’re in a good mood, you’ll be much more forgiving of small lapses in service that would normally annoy you.

Another thing that can make online reviews less-than-reliable is the possibility of fake reviews. Even though it’s definitely not kosher, there are still some businesses out there that buy reviews or prompt employees to pose as customers and leave reviews. This can make it difficult to tell exactly what working with a business is like.

It’s not just businesses that leave fake reviews, either. Sometimes, a business’ competition will leave negative fake reviews in order to undermine its online reputation. This also occasionally happens with disgruntled ex-employees.

How to the Most Out of Reading Reviews

#1. Read multiple reviews on multiple platforms.

You can’t just read one review on one platform and hope to get a good idea of what working with a local business is really like. As we’ve already established, people have different standards when it comes to what they expect from working with a business, and if someone has had a bad day, they might be a harsher critic than you would be.

By reading multiple reviews on multiple platforms, you’ll be in the best position to really understand what kind of experience most people have with the business in question. If the business has sent all of its happy customers to leave reviews on Google, you’ll get more of the full story if you also check its reviews on Yelp.

#2. Don’t put too much stock in overly specific reviews.

When people read a business’ reviews, they want to know about the general experience people have when working with them. Unfortunately, people don’t write about the general experience; they write about their own personal experience, and the specifics can often get in the way.

A great example of this is when a reviewer uses a specific employee’s name. While details are good, the employee in question — whether they did a wonderful job or a terrible one — may not even work at the business anymore! That means that the review may not even apply to what working with the business is like anymore.

#3. Don’t accept angry reviews at face value.

There are several reasons why someone might review a business online, but there are two reasons that seem to be more common than the others. 1) They want to help others make more informed decisions about working with the business in question and to provide the business with feedback they can use to get better. 2.) They have a bone to pick with the business, and they want to vent a little about how upset they are.

If someone has a less-than-stellar experience with a business, or even with a specific employee, they might write a review out of anger and spite that has little bearing on what working with the business is really like. When reading these kinds of reviews, it’s important not to simply accept them at face value. Chances are, there’s more to the story.

#4. Pay more attention to more recent reviews.

If a business has hundreds, or even thousands, of reviews, it can go a long way toward making you feel like you know them before you hire them. However, not all of those reviews will hold the same weight because not all of them will be relevant to what working with the business is like today.

When you’re reading a business’ reviews, it’s important to pay much closer attention to the most recent reviews because they’ll give you a better idea of what working with the business is like these days, rather than what it was like to work with them months, or even years ago.

#5. Watch out for themes.

When you read reviews, a good place to start is by reading a business’ five-star reviews as well as its one-star reviews. This way, you’ll get a good idea of the very best experience the business can provide as well as the very worst experience. And, when you read those five-star and one-star reviews, it’s important to look for common themes.

If a business has three or four one-star reviews, and they all mention the same employee that no longer works there, they may not have much of a bearing on what working with them is like. The same goes for five-star reviews.

Start your local business search with Top Rated Local!

Reviews are subjective, but when you know what to look for, they can be a great tool for finding the right local business for your needs. Find local businesses near you with Top Rated Local today!

Why Top Rated Local® Should be Your New Go-to Review Source

There are so many places online where you can find local businesses near you.

If you’re like most people, these days, when you want to find a local business, your search probably starts online. After all, the people you know personally who could recommend businesses to you have probably only worked with one (maybe two) roofer, dentist, plumber, etc., but using the full might of the internet, you can learn about dozens of roofers, dentists, and plumbers in your area and compare them.

Another reason why people tend to look online instead of asking for referrals from friends and family is online reviews. Despite the fact that occasional fake or dishonest reviews happen, largely, people trust online reviews from anonymous strangers just as much as they trust personal recommendations.

By reading a business’ reviews, you get a better understanding of what working with them is like. And, since you’re learning about many experiences with the business versus just one or two (which is what you get from a personal recommendation), you’ll get a better idea of the kind of consistent service they offer their clients.

There are a lot of reasons to look for local businesses online and even more reasons to choose Top Rated Local® as your go-to review source when you do so.

3 Reasons to Find Local Businesses With Top Rated Local

#1. Read a business’ reviews from across the web.

The whole point of actually reading reviews is to get to know a local business that you’re thinking about working with, but if you read just one review source, you’re only getting a single part of the picture. That’s because there are different reviews across different review sites, and chances are, they’re not all going to be identical.

I think that most people assume that, if a business has many positive, glowing reviews on one review source, they’ll have the same kind of reviews across every review site it’s listed on. But, that’s not necessarily the case.

If a business puts its focus on managing its reputation on one source rather than another, you’ll probably find a lot of current reviews on one site and not-so-current reviews on another. You may also find more negative reviews on sites the business isn’t focused on.

Reading a business’ online reviews is supposed to give you an idea of what it’s actually like to work with them, but those reviews won’t be the same across every site. And, when you check out a business’ online reputation on Top Rated Local, you can read a business’ reviews from a variety of sources from one convenient place.

#2. Learn about a business’ overall online reputation.

You can only learn so much about a business by looking at a single review source, even if it’s Google. That’s because a business’ online reputation on Google might not be the same as its reputation on Yelp or with the Better Business Bureau, and without ever working with the business in question, it’s impossible to tell which one of these sources actually reflects what kind of service they provide.

Let’s say you’re looking for a local nail salon near you. Your top choice has 134 reviews on Google with an average rating of 4.7 — not bad at all. However, on Yelp, the same nail salon has 47 reviews with an average rating of two and a half stars, which doesn’t quite inspire the same kind of confidence or peace of mind as the business’ Google My Business rating.

Unlike other review sites, where the average star rating only reflects the reviews on that site, Top Rated Local’s Rating Score™ is based on a business’ reviews across a variety of verified sites. This gives you more peace of mind and gives you a better gauge of what working with a business is like.

#3. Top Rated Local isn’t pay to play.

When you start your search for a local business on a lot of review sites, the top results aren’t always the results with the best reviews. If you’re looking to work with the highest-rated business in your area, the number one result isn’t always the business with the best reviews and the highest average star rating. Unfortunately, on many review sites, it’s the business that pays the most for their listing.

While the vast majority of directories and review sites list businesses for free, on some sites, businesses have the option of paying for a membership plan, which will ensure that they stay up at the top of the list. This can be incredibly frustrating for consumers who are just looking for the right local business.

At Top Rated Local, businesses can sign up to become “Staff Favorites,” which shows up at the top of the list, but from there, every business, including Staff Favorites, will be listed based on one thing and one thing along — their Rating Score.

And, if you really want to work with only the best of the best, Top Rated Local makes it even easier with its awards program. Every week, Top Rated Local awards the top 100 businesses in a state, as well as the top five businesses across a variety of industries in that state. So, whether you’re looking for the best accounting firm, lawyer, or window cleaner, a great first place to look is the Top Rated Local awards.

In conclusion, looking at a business’ listing on one review can only give you some idea of what working with them is like. Instead of wasting your time looking up a business on 10 different review sites or putting your trust in it with only part of the picture, turn to Top Rated Local to get the whole thing. Find a local business near you today!

Starting Your Year Off On The Right Foot

Claim your business listings

Claiming your business listings online is going to be step one of your New Year’s Resolution to have a stronger online reputation. Many people overlook this vital task because they don’t realize how important having a claimed business really is.

When you claim your business, you are showing your customers, current and future, that yours is a reliable and authentic business. The fact of the matter is, more and more customers are searching for local businesses online, and ranking ahead of your competition is very likely going to be what makes or breaks their decision to choose your business over any other.

Think about it, when a customer is going online to search for a business, but ends up finding an unclaimed business profile with inaccurate information, like their phone number, address, or business hours, they’re not likely going to trust that business with their time or money. Claiming your business and making sure your information is accurate and up to date is really simple considering how important an outcome doing so has. In fact, according to research done by Google, three out of four shoppers who find local information in search results to be helpful are more likely to visit stores in person. Thankfully, claiming your business listing is also usually free.

Claiming your business listings doesn’t only show your potential customers that you are a reliable business, it also gives search engines a reason to trust you and give you a better ranking. Search engines look for and promote legitimacy. By claiming your business, you not only show search engines that you are legitimate, but you also help boost your SEO (search engine optimization) and the likelihood of your business being seen more frequently. By claiming your business on verified sites, you improve your chances of increasing traffic to your website by making it more accessible and easy to find.

Claiming your business profiles should be one of the small business basics, and since claiming your businesses is such a simple way to get the attention of customers and search engines, it’s surprising that more small businesses don’t prioritize the practice, but that just means that a business that does claim its listings is going to stand out among the crowd.

Build Your Online Presence

When you search for your business on Google, take notice of what comes up. How does your website look? Are there reviews for your business? What kinds of photos are there? Is your website mobile-friendly? What about social media? Which social media profiles are your target audience likely active on? Are you easy to find there? Making it simple for your target audience to connect with you makes your business appear accessible and personal, which is important when it comes to building trust and showing your customers that you are reliable.

Your potential customers need to be able to find you, and when they do, you want them to be impressed by what they see. Start by investing in an awesome website. Your website will be many customers’ first impression of you, and no matter what business you are in, you will find that an eye-catching and professional website will be beneficial to your business.

Even a company that has traditionally operated by word of mouth, like tree removal or lawn care, can benefit from having a nice, up-to-date website. Your website can tell your customers your story, humanizing your business; it can showcase some of your favorite reviews, giving customers a reason to trust you, and it can give your customers the basic information they need, like your address, hours, phone number, and pricing options.

Too often, businesses that have gotten by thanks to word of mouth have lost out on potential new customers because so many people are turning to the internet to find new local services. In fact, the number of local searches is on the rise, with 46 percent of all Google searches being people who are looking for local information and 82 percent of smartphone shoppers using the phrase ‘near me’ in their searches, a number that has increased 900 percent in the last two years.

You need more than to simply be present; you need also be active in order to have a strong online presence. That means updating your website and social media pages with new photos, current reviews, blog posts, and updates. Always respond to your reviews, both positive and negative, in order to show your customers that you care about their experience with your business.

Ask for reviews

Just like having a great website, having a handful of reviews on verified websites is crucial to the overall success of your business. Reviews are a vital tool when it comes to generating trust and increasing your overall sales.

Nowadays, almost everyone is turning to the internet to do their research before making their purchasing decisions. Customers can turn to websites, like Google, Bing, Facebook, and Top Rated Local, to read about the experiences of past customers. While each of these sites has its own way of collecting and prioritizing reviews, reviews left on any of them will count as fresh content in SEO algorithms. Reviews will end up helping your business ranking by improving your overall SEO since fresh reviews count as fresh content, which search engines tend to like.

In addition to helping out with your SEO, reviews can also help you to connect with your customers. Your customers will naturally have some feedback for you, and their feedback is undoubtedly going to be incredibly valuable to you and your business, whether it is positive or negative. Positive reviews offer a great incentive for others to trust you with their business, and negative reviews offer you some insight into where your business might be slacking. Negative reviews also give you a chance to show others how you would like your business to be seen. For example, if you receive a negative review, you can respond to it, showcasing your responsiveness as well as your willingness to receive feedback. In your response, you can highlight some of the things you hope your business will be known for, like:

“We’re very sorry you did not get a chance to experience the outstanding customer service we hope to provide to every person who visits us…”

Customers like to see that someone will be attentive to their needs if anything goes wrong, and the fact of the matter is, they are more likley to trust a business that has had a few things go wrong. When they see only five-star ratings, they start to become suspicious that the feedback may not be authentic. A sprinkling of less-than-perfect reviews with well-worded and thoughtful responses is more likely to inspire trust in potential customers than a hundred bland five-star reviews.

Knowing how important it is to have online reviews, you should also know that there is absolutely no shame in asking for them! Chances are, you really do value and appreciate honest feedback, and there is no reason not to say so to your customers. As long as you are not paying for or somehow incentivizing people to leave you feedback, you can be confident that you are acting ethically in your request for reviews.

Revamp your customer service policies

Now is a better time than ever to make sure your employees are all on the same page when it comes to the kind of customer service your business offers. Establishing some customer service basics, a set of values, and even an overall business mission can unite your staff and help to set the baseline for how to behave with the customers.

Having a solid foundation in excellent customer service is a surefire way to gain the kinds of reviews that will instill some trust in your business.

Your customer service skills need to extend into your online presence as well. If you have multiple employees responding to reviews, posting to your social media pages, and interacting with your customers online, you need to have a unified voice that you feel best represents your company. It might be beneficial to start out by having a few templates for responding to customer concerns or negative reviews.

Consider Getting Outside Help for Online Reputation Management

Taking on the responsibility of managing your online reputation may seem daunting and could take more time than you have to invest into it. For many companies, the role of online reputation management is a full-time job. While most small businesses don’t necessarily have the budget to hire a full-time staff member to perform these duties, many are turning to reputation management companies.

If outsourcing your reputation management is something that appeals to you, make sure you do your research and find a company that feels like a good fit and can perform the job you want done. If you are interested in learning more about reputation management and its benefits, check out Top Rated Local, today!

Basic Reputation Management for Limousine Companies

Figure out who you are and what you want to be known for

For many people, the choice to hire a limousine service means that they are looking for a service to help them add to or complete a specific kind of experience. It’s important for you to figure out what kind of

customer you are hoping to attract because these customers likely have the bar set pretty high in their minds. Are you the endlessly fun party bus company? Are you the luxury line, ready to whisk people away to their formal events? Or are you an airport staple, offering safety and ease with a touch of class and sophistication?

Whether your company offers one or all of these services, it is important for you to know which you are, which customer you want to attract, and how to show the world exactly what kind of experience it is you have to offer them. Before you even start to navigate the world that is your online reputation, you first need to figure out these basics about your company.

Once you have established who you are and what you offer, think about what your service basics include. It could help to establish a mission statement for your business. This gives you and your employees a guideline for the kind of service your customers should be expecting from you. It also gives you and your employees a common goal and a baseline understanding of what is required from you.

When you have this foundation firmly planted under you and your business, you can start to look at your online reputation with a bit more confidence about what it is you are working towards.

You need to have a great website

Your website is almost always going to be your customer’s first impression of you. More than ever, people are turning to Google to search for local products and services. When they click on your page, you want to not only impress them, but also give them all the information they need to feel confident in choosing you over any other business. Having a professional and informative website is a must.

One way to stand out to potential clients would be to make sure your website’s homepage includes a widget that showcases stellar reviews previous customers have left for you. Customers trust other customers, and nowadays, reviews are worth their weight in gold since the majority of people trust online reviews as much as they do a word-of-mouth referral from a friend or family member.

Another website must-have is a gallery of high-quality photos of your fleet of vehicles. People want to know what they are getting when they are dishing out money for a service, and having excellent photos, a 3-D tour of your cars, or a few action shots of your cars will act as a valuable form of marketing for your business, even if they are only posted on your own website. At the end of the day, your website is there to reassure people that you are the best choice, and they won’t feel certain about that until you give them a reason to trust you. Having high-quality photos of the car they would be paying for is one crucial way to build that necessary trust.

Having profiles of your drivers, complete with headshots and a few quotes from positive reviews, would be one simple way to make your website, and business, stand head and shoulders above the competition. Including a page like this builds familiarity and trust with your brand. People are essentially trusting your employees and your company with their lives and are often hiring a limousine service for an event that is really important to them. You need to do everything you can to show them that you are worth putting that must trust in.

Don’t skip out on social media

No matter what your personal feelings are about social media, it could be a crucial asset to the growth of your business. Social media can give you a valuable tool for connecting with your customers, past, present, and future, and apart from the time investment it takes to manage your profiles, it’s generally a free service.

Think of social media as a collaborative extension of your website. With it, you can establish an easily accessible representation of your company and the kind of service it has to offer. Connecting with your customers on social media is simple, and many may already be looking for the opportunity to follow you! Social media makes it easy to post photos, establish your voice, spread the word about promotions, and interact with your audience. With a well-managed social media profile, you can even turn your customers into your own best spokespeople by having them tag you in their photos and share your profile with friends!

Reviews are vital to your success

The cornerstone of your online reputation depends on the reviews your customers leave for you. More and more people are sharing their opinions and experiences online, whether they are prompted to or not. The fact of the matter is, you have an online reputation, whether you know about it or not, so, we suggest taking charge of it and using it to help promote your business. Good reviews are no longer simply a nicety; they are a necessity.

When you are ready to explore and manage your online reputation, we suggest getting started by claiming your business profiles. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential customers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real, and by giving you the power to make sure that basic information, like your phone number, address, and business name, is updated and correct. This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable, and both of those options are no good for business, especially for a limousine service, where reliability is a vital trait your customers are looking for.

When your business has online reviews, good and bad, it appears to be more authentic and trustworthy than a business that has no reviews at all. When a business has no reviews at all, people will question whether or not the business is even operational! It is more important than ever to ask every one of your customers to provide their feedback. Good reviews are as good as a referral, and bad reviews give you the opportunity to make things right and show your audience that you genuinely care about the customer experience. We highly recommend responding to all reviews, positive and negative, because doing so shows your audience that you are present and that you care about what they have to say.

Reviews do even more than provide you feedback and provide potential customers with a snapshot of your business; they also help your search rankings! Reviews act as new content, which search engines love. Websites with consistently fresh content are favored by search engine algorithms, meaning that the more fresh and relevant content that is connected to your business, the better for your rankings.

We hope that these tips have been helpful to you and your business. If you are feeling ready to tackle your online reputation, we recommend getting started by claiming your business on Top Rated Local today!

A Guide to Turning Your Seasonal Shoppers into Loyal Customers

A Guide to Turning Your Seasonal Shoppers into Loyal Customers

For many small business owners, the end of the year comes with a serious upswing in sales. With so many people out and about shopping for their various holidays, you are probably going to see a surge of new faces turning to you for goods and services. While retail seems to get all the spotlight during the holiday shopping season, there are many businesses that will benefit from the winter festivities. Company parties will be looking for caterers; homeowners hosting their families will be turning to house cleaning companies; people will be headed off to nail salons, barbershops, and beauty salons to get ready to look their best in photos, and weary travelers who were trapped on a plane next to a sneezy toddler may end up making a trip to urgent care. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of business you are in, we encourage you to take the time during this busy season to turn these seasonal shoppers into repeat, and even loyal, customers.

Expand upon the basics

Now more than ever, you need to showcase your very best customer service skills. With traffic, travel, looming deadlines, and busier-than-ever stores, many holiday shoppers are feeling a bit more stressed out than usual. That means that they will be that much more grateful when you or your employees are able to listen to them, help them, and show them that you genuinely care about their experience.

It is easier than ever to take care of all of your shopping needs online, so it is special and important when people choose to shop local and support a small business rather than go the easy route of online shopping or the cheap route of big-box retail. For many shoppers, choosing a small business is a personal choice, made either out of a desire to fuel the local economy, or to experience the level of customer service you can only find in these kinds of stores. That is why it is so important to make sure you don’t neglect customer service during this busy shopping season. To read more about the importance of customer service, check out our previous blog, Why Nothing Beats Great Customer Service.

If you feel like you can definitely handle an increase in customers while maintaining your standards of customer service, then we’re going to recommend taking it up a notch and thinking about some of the ways you can expand on and exceed your customers’ expectations. If you can find a few easy ways to stand out to people now, you will have a much better chance of sticking in their minds, impressing them, and ultimately, bringing them back in to do business in the future.

You can start by making sure your store is in tip-top shape, possibly even investing in a good deep-cleaning. It might be fun to decorate the space, turning it into a winter wonderland, creating a whimsical window display, putting up a hashtag wall, or going all-out with any seasonal decor of your choice.

Maybe you could offer free shipping on any in-store purchases over a certain price, giving your customers a chance to continue their shopping unencumbered by bulky bags. One surefire way to stand out is to offer the option of gift-wrapping! For many, the idea of wrapping a gift comes with an overwhelming feeling of dread, and even for those who don’t mind wrestling with yards of paper and tape, the option to save time or have a beautifully wrapped gift is a hard one to pass up.

Any way that you can enhance the experience of shopping in your store, whether by making it more beautiful or whimsical, having attentive and knowledgeable staff, or by making your customers’ lives easier, the more likely you will be to stand the test of time and come to the customers’ minds the next time they are in need of whatever you provide.

Expanding on your customer service basics can also extend beyond the time your shoppers are physically in your store. At the time of checkout, if you ask for an address, you could send a hand-written thank you note to them, reminding them of your business and the excellent service they received there. This small gesture is one way you can show your customers how grateful you are that they chose your business, and reminds them of the kind of personalized attention and care they can receive when shopping with a small business. These are the kinds of things that give small businesses an advantage over the big chain stores.

Give shoppers an incentive to come back

You can expect that seasonal shoppers aren’t only shopping at your business, and with the whirlwind of shopping, cooking, travel, and family that many people experience duri

ng this season, it can all pass by in a blur to them. If you want to stand out in the memories of these shoppers, you might want to consider giving them some kind of incentive to revisit your business.

One way to incentivize shoppers to revisit your store is to offer some kind of coupon or discount on a future purchase. Remember, this does not just apply to retail stores; a home cleaning company can offer a coupon for a spring cleaning discount, like, “Redeem this coupon in April for 10 percent off any one cleaning service.” Someone coming in to get their hair cut and colored before visiting family for the holidays could be surprised when you offer them a free conditioning treatment with the next service. Someone who signs up for a gym membership in the month of December could be wowed when they are offered a punch card to bring along a set number of guests for free. Since they are already committed to returning, maybe you can incentivize them to bring along a friend!

Many holiday shoppers are likely to be out purchasing gift cards for family and friends, meaning they may not spend much time in your store looking around or getting an idea of the out-of-this-world customer service you provide. You can persuade them to come back and spend some more time in your business by offering coupons or discounts with the purchase of a gift card. By giving them a coupon that is good through the end of January, or by providing an offer like, “If you buy a gift card worth $25 or more, you get 15 percent off your next purchase,” you are inviting this shopper to come back and check out your store for themselves. There are many bigger retail locations that successfully use a similar model: “For every $50 you spend now, get $10 off between this date and this date.” Giving your shoppers a discount in order to get them back in your store could end up paying off for you in the long run when they become familiar with you and your service, and become loyal future customers.

Stay in their minds after they’ve left

In addition to staying fresh on the minds of your customers through coupons and future shopping incentives, one simple way to stand out in the minds of your customers is by offering the option to email their

receipt to them. I know full well that, when a cashier hands me a receipt, I am shoving that thing into my purse, never to be seen again. With e-receipts, you cut down on unnecessary paper waste, your customer will have a hard–to-lose digital copy of their transaction, you can craft a sweet and personalized message to accompany the receipt, and you can send a follow-up thank you message to their email a few days or weeks after the transaction, reminding customers of your service and your business. While you never want to spam your customers into a state of resentment, a well-crafted, post-holiday thank you message could be really appreciated and could make you stand out in their minds. You could even send out a discount code as a message of appreciation, reminding people of your store and giving them a tangible reason to revisit.

Be ready for returns

While we may all be out there trying our best, sometimes, we don’t quite hit the mark with the gifts we give. After the holiday rush is up, you can probably expect to see a few people coming in to make returns or exchanges. Make sure your employees are well-trained and ready to handle these requests. When a customer is making a return, it might be worth it to see if they would rather exchange their item for something else. By giving them the chance to at least take a look around your business, you give yourself the opportunity to get to know this customer and wow them with your service. Even if they don’t want anything for themselves, they may be inspired to come back and get something for someone else. Make sure that you have a process in place to handle returns and exchanges, and make sure it is a simple process for your customers.


From all of us here at Top Rated Local, have a safe and happy holiday season!

Tips To Fix A Broken Reputation

Five Things You Can Do To Fix A Broken Reputation

Why your online reputation matters

It is the hope of any business owner that the business they have invested so much time, energy, and funding into will be beloved by all, and will be known for its reliability, excellent service, and quality products or services. While it’s great to wish and work for an easy time and a naturally stellar reputation, it’s entirely likely that some kind of trouble will end up finding you, and when that happens, you’ll want to be prepared to recover your reputation and maintain your status as a business people trust.

Warren Buffett once said,

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

We can’t stress enough how important your online reputation is. More and more, people are turning to the internet to do their research before deciding to give their business to companies. When it comes time for them to look into your business, you want to show them that you have the kind of reputation that means they will feel comfortable investing in you.

In today’s digital world, blunders and mishaps don’t often stay quiet for long, and once negativity starts showing up publicly, it often starts to expand and multiply. Whether your reputation has taken a small jab or has been knocked back by a solid blow, you’re going to need to do some reputation repair. When the time comes to manage and fix your online reputation, will you know where to begin? To give you some peace of mind, first, know that you are not alone. No business is immune to negative reviews or the eventual screw-up. What’s important is that you care and want to make things right. When the idea of repairing your reputation feels overwhelming, know that you have already made a big step in the right direction by simply making the decision to start! Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you are not the first or last business owner this will happen to, and read on for a list of five things you can do to help fix a broken reputation!

Own Your Past. 

There are few things as powerful as a person or business that is willing to admit to its faults and make a sincere apology to those affected by the blunder. When you come off as defensive, defiant, or irritated, people rarely see you as in control and trustworthy, they see someone who is more concerned about their pride than their customers’ experiences. If the hit to your reputation came in the form of a scathing online review, take a minute to think about both what the customer said and what they felt. Chances are, this customer left your business feeling unheard or dissatisfied for a legitimate reason. Other customers and potential future customers will be able to read, not only this review, but also the way you respond to it. This is where a little humility and sincerity are going to take this negative and give you the chance to look good to your audience. By acknowledging that this customer’s concerns are noticed and worth responding to, you show your audience that you care and that you are paying attention. You don’t need to confess to any specific grievances, but think of it this way, this customer is sad, you are probably sorry that this customer is sad, so, say so! By saying something along the lines of, “I apologize that you did not get to experience the incredible customer service we hope to provide to each and every one of our patrons. I want to hear more about this visit, get the opportunity to make this right, and show you the kind of service we strive to provide. Please contact me at ___,” you can show this customer, and all potential customers, that you care, and that it is a goal for you to be known for providing outstanding service. By apologizing and showcasing that you have a plan of action to make things right, you come off as strong, reliable, and in control of this situation. 


If there is a specific incident that has come up that is harming, or could be harmful to, your reputation, you want to stay ahead of the curve by owning up to what has happened. Be honest from the start, apologize, and reiterate what is important to you or what you will do to make things right. One example would be, “I want to apologize for ___. This is not the way we hope to conduct our business, and we are sorry for anyone who was affected by these actions. We want to recommit ourselves to providing trustworthy service to our customers, who we value so much. Thank you for sticking with us through this, and know that going forward, we will always do what we can to earn your support and be the kind of company you are proud to do business with.” Looking at a statement like this, your customers will see integrity, compassion, and a commitment to them, instead of being left in the dark wondering if you’ll ever mention the incident in question. Being willing to address the concern, taking ownership of your part in it, and recommitting yourself to the values your business stands for give customers a reason to trust you, which is more important now than ever.  


Strengthen your reputation by creating and sharing engaging content

Content marketing is one very powerful way to promote your business because it connects you with your clients, builds up your relationship and trust with them, and boosts your business’ reputation by establishing you as an authority in your field. Content marketing can be done through a blog, through videos on YouTube or Facebook, by posting to Instagram, by creating infographics, and a whole host of other ways. That’s one of the beautiful things about content marketing, there are so many ways to do it that it really can be customized to your business and its strengths. 


Take something as simple as a blog. Many small businesses have found some level of success by using a blog to answer common questions their customers have. If you own a pool service company or a house 

cleaning company, you may think that there’s no way people would be interested in reading about your business, or that the internet is already full of information about your industry, but chances are, your customers do come to you for advice, or would benefit from seeing some engaging content about this year’s coolest pool floaties or how to handle their glass top stove between deep cleans. At the very least, creating and sharing information related to your field will put you a step ahead of your local competitors, which is exactly where you want to be! Regular blogging can help you to establish and build relationships with your customers as well as provide them with helpful content. 


Blogging is an easy way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you use your blog to address common questions your customers have, you provide them with a valuable tool that also showcases the fact that you are listening to their questions and concerns, and that you have a vested interest in helping them with their issues. The kind of trust you can build by blogging about real questions and concerns you’ve noticed your customers coming to you with is, in and of itself, incredibly valuable. People want to give their business to someone they trust and like, and a blog can not only help with this, but it can also help with keeping your customers engaged and interested in your business, even in times when a bad review or PR nightmare has you feeling down. Basically, a blog can help you establish enough of a baseline rapport with your audience to make it harder for them to turn on you in times of trouble. 


Whether it’s blog posts, Facebook videos, or well-timed memes, the content marketing you do will not only help get your audience familiar with you and your business, but it will also count as fresh content, meaning the search engine bots will be more likely to look on your site favorably when it comes time to rank your business. 


Smother the bad

You can’t just ignore or erase your bad press or negative reviews, and even if you could, that’s not a business tactic we recommend. Now, this does not extend to fake reviews, which you will want to discredit or get deleted, we’re talking about the everyday hits a business can be expected to take. While you want to address negative incidents and reviews like we outlined earlier, you also want to show people that you have more going for you in the form of authentic, positive feedback. Take a look at where your reputation stands at present. What do your reviews look like? Do you even have any reviews? Are the ones you do have pretty 

good, but a year old? 


Now might be a good time to reach out to your customers to tell them how much you would value their feedback and let them know how much it would help your business out. There’s a right way and wrong way to go about this, so make sure that when you are making a push for positive reviews, you are doing so in a way that is authentic and is not incentivizing people to say nice things about you. When people are checking out at your store, you can say something as simple as “Would you please leave us some feedback on our Facebook profile? It would really mean a lot to us.” You’re not begging, or asking for five stars, you are simply telling your customers that their experience with your business is important to you. 


Ideally, more and more people will start to share their feedback in the form of online reviews, giving you some much-needed content for people to base their opinions of your business on. You can also use positive feedback right on the front page of your website. If you have had any press about your business, make sure it is featured somewhere on your website. Here at Top Rated Local, every business ranked as one of the top five in its category is given the opportunity to receive a featured article about them. By accepting opportunities like this, those businesses now have a valuable asset in the form of positive press, which they can display in their shops, post about on their social media, and link to on their websites. If your business has had any positive press, like an article about your grand opening or a spotlight for the work you’ve done giving back to the community, be sure to display it where people can easily find it! 


Claim your listings and get your name out with social media profiles

You may not be aware, but your business is already listed on review sites all across the internet, including Google, Yelp and Top Rated Local. If you are ready to start managing your online reputation but have no idea where to start, we recommend getting the ball rolling by first claiming all of your business listings. Claiming your business online is free, easy, and there’s no better way to keep ahead of what people are saying about you online. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential consumers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real, and by giving you the power to make sure that basic information. like your phone number, address, and business name, is updated and correct. This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable, and both of those options are no good for business. Taking your business’ listing off of these sites is not an option, but you do have the option to take control of those listings and give your website an additional SEO boost. Stop a reputation crisis before it begins by keeping up to date and aware of your online presence. 


Make reputation management a part of your business plan

With your claimed business listings, an outpouring of creative and engaging content, and a commitment to respond to your reviews in a timely and professional manner, it will soon become apparent that you must dedicate time to managing your online reputation and making that a vital part of the way your business operates. For some, this means carving out a set time of the day to dedicate towards reputation management. For others, it means hiring a full-time content creator, social media manager, or PR person. For even more companies, the time investment it would cost them, or the financial investment it would cost to hire a new employee, has them turning to reputation management companies. There are many reputation management companies out there, so be sure to do your research, ask around, and find one that fits your business’ needs. In any case, don’t leave managing your reputation off your radar until it’s in crisis mode. Recognize the importance of understanding and managing your reputation, and come up with a well-thought-out plan of action for the best way your company can stay on top.


We hope you have been inspired to take charge of your online reputation today. One of the easiest ways to get involved is to claim your profile on Top Rated Local. Check it out, and let us help take the stress out of managing your business’ online presence!

The Twelve Days of Reputation-mas

Twas the night before Reputaion-mas, and while on the internet
I learned of ways to manage my reputation
That I didn’t want to forget

So from us to you, we have set them to song
If you know the tune, feel free to sing along

On the twelfth day of Reputation-mas
my true love sent to me:

12 Bloggers Blogging

Generating content is going to naturally bring more traffic to your site. How’s this for power numbers? You have a 434-percent higher chance of being ranked higher on search engines if your website features a blog, and small businesses with blogs generate 126-percent more leads than those without. Regular blogging can also help you to establish and build relationships with your customers and provide them with helpful content. Blogging is an easy way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. By providing your audience with well-written blog posts about your industry, your business, and your target audience, you show your customers that you are an expert in your field. You can even use your blog to address common questions your customers have, providing them with a valuable tool that also showcases the fact that you are listening to their questions and concerns and that you have a vested interest in helping them with their issues. The kind of trust you can build by blogging about real questions and concerns you’ve noticed your customers coming to you with is, in and of itself, incredibly valuable. People want to give their business to someone they trust and like, and a blog can not only help with this, but it can also help with keeping your customers engaged and interested in your business.

11 People Sharing

When you have fun, meaningful, or engaging content, your audience can become your best marketers. Social media makes it easy for people to share the content you’re putting out there, whether that be photos of your product, blog posts about your industry, or information about an upcoming event. When your customers share your content, they are not only sharing your information with a wider audience, they are also giving you a kind of a recommendation, and all at no additional cost or time to you. People generally miss a whole lot of content on their social media feeds, so the more chances someone has of seeing what you’ve put out there, the better it is for you and your business.

10 Social Profiles

If you have any hesitations about your business having a presence on social media, we are here to offer you some insight into why and how social media can actually be beneficial to your business. I promise, it’s not all selfies and hashtags. Social media actually has a really important place in building your online reputation, as well as the connections you have with your current and potential future customers. The number of social media users has been on a steady incline for years and has absolutely no indication of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, over the last five years, the number of people using social media increased by close to a billion! That means that worldwide, there are around 3.2 billion social media users, or, 42 percent of the world’s population. Social media offers you a way to connect and interact with your customers, and even to share user-generated content, which offers a whole host of value for your business. Interacting with your customers on social media is one way to showcase your excellent customer service practices by showing that you care about your audience and are willing to take the time to engage with them. There’s no doubt, customers are using social media to search for products, recommendations, and services. Make it easy for them to find and interact with you! Of course, each social media platform offers its own appeal to different target audiences, and you’ll have to find the most effective one for your business. Here is a list of 11 of the most popular social media sites out there today:

YouTube – YouTube gives you the power to have your own channel where you can upload videos that your subscribers can watch, like, comment on, and ideally share with others. YouTube’s audience is huge, which means that no matter what kind of industry you are in, you likely have an audience that is active on YouTube. With over 2 billion active users, YouTube has been named the second most popular search engine, after Google. Ninety percent of viewers have shared that they’ve discovered new brands or products thanks to YouTube, so, why not yours?

Instagram – Instagram stories are having a big moment right now. Their usage has increased from 150 million to 500 million in the last three years, and it’s no wonder, since they offer fun and exciting ways to engage with your audience without having to make a more permanent post on your profile. Instagram stories can give your audience a feeling of being ‘on the inside’ or ‘behind the scenes’ since they are temporary and offer interactive features, like polls and Q&A’s.

Twitter – Twitter is known for being the social media hub for news, politics, and what’s happening now. For a small business, Twitter can be used to make announcements, promote special offers, reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and handle customer service requests.

Facebook – Facebook’s audience is huge. With 2.41 billion monthly active users, there’s no doubt Facebook remains a powerhouse in the world of social media. Facebook offers a host of options for your business, including Facebook marketing, shopping options, insights on your business page, and messaging.

Snapchat – One study found that Snapchat has the ability to reach forty-one percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds every single day. Snapchat may have gained popularity for rainbow-barf and puppy-face filters, but it offers much more than that for small businesses trying to connect with a younger audience. Snapchat offers the option for businesses to post ads between stories, create interactive business content, and create and customize their very own Geofilter!

Pinterest – Pinterest is great at driving traffic to your website, and it easily integrates with not only your own website, but also with Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is also the leader of the pack when it comes to product discovery and purchasing power. Staying active on Pinterest can also help you to stay on top of emerging trends.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is made to create professional and business connections, making it an important social media platform for your small business to be a part of. It’s a great place to share your high-quality content, your company’s story, or your featured products. LinkedIn also gives your business some additional legitimacy and helps you to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Even if you don’t end up posting much of your own content, you can stay up-to-date on the news and trends within your industry by following leaders and organizations within your field.

Meetup – Meetup offers plenty of business networking opportunities that any small business owner can attend or host. Meetup offers the valuable opportunity to connect with people in your own community. Meetup’s overall goal is to “revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize,” and according to their website, more than 9,000 groups get together in local communities every single day.

Waze – Though not a traditional social media site, Waze local allows small businesses to advertise to smartphone users who are using the navigation services of the app. That means that ads for your business can pop up like tiny digital billboards

9 Smiling Workers

No matter what efforts you’re putting into your online reputation, you’re not going to get very far if you forget the basics of offering good customer service to each of your customers. During this busy holiday season, your customers may be experiencing more stress than usual, and will greatly appreciate some quality customer service and care, while also being far more likely to notice when it is not present. In case you or your staff need a reminder, you can start by remembering to smile, or at the very least, make sure you are friendly and genuine. Make eye contact when you talk to people to show them that you are engaged and listening to them. It is important that your customers feel seen and heard, as that can make a world of difference in their overall experience. Introduce yourself and try to use people’s names when you speak with them. This added level of personalized attention will put you leagues ahead of any online retailer. Remember to thank your customers for their support. In today’s world, it would be very easy for them to do business at a chain retailer or online, so it means something that they chose to support you. The least you could do is tell them as much. Offering some gratitude is simple, meaningful, and most likely genuine. This one-on-one attention and care might be the reason they chose to shop at a business like yours instead of at one of the chains.

If you want to do a further dive into some of the incredible benefits of offering great customer service, check out our article: Why Nothing Beats Great Customer Service.

8 TRL Facts

Here are 8 fun facts about Top Rated Local:

  • You can add the trusted Top Rated Local badge to your website to let your customers know that yours is a top-rated business.
  • With Top Rated Local, you can challenge reviews to ensure they are from actual customers, request re-ratings after you resolve an issue, and send private notes to your reviewers.
  • With the Top Rated Local stats dashboard you have access to a powerful tool for tracking the progress of your online reputation overall, or by an individual review site. With it, you can track your number of reviews, star ratings, listing clicks, your Rating Score™ compared to your competitors, and more.
  • By joining Top Rated Local, you will receive monthly email updates on your overall online reputation.
  • Top Rated Local gives you access to an embeddable review widget. That means you can embed the widget on your website’s review or testimonial page to automatically showcase your recent ratings and reviews!
  • Every year, Top Rated Local awards businesses in every state! Each business’s rank is based on its Rating Score™, which is calculated by aggregating customer ratings and reviews from verified review sites online, and the score is calculated using a proprietary algorithm that analyzes the business’s overall rating, number of reviews, and number of verified review sources.
  • Top Rated Local is built on five pillars of the customer experience; quality, value, timeliness, experience, and satisfaction. These pillars allow consumers to highlight what was important about their experience. It is a true, simplistic feedback system that has more value than reviews alone. It creates a place where the customer experience is amplified, and it creates a more meaningful environment for customers and businesses alike.
  • Once you claim your business, you will receive real-time notifications when you receive new reviews.

7 Online Shoppers

E-commerce is growing fast, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Online shopping is easy, convenient, and is the preferred method of shopping for many people. With so many people turning to online reviews before making any buying decisions, doesn’t it make sense that they can also get the product online where they can compare pricing options, see available options with the swipe of a finger, read dozens of customer reviews, and not have to deal with parking or putting on pants? Small businesses can take advantage of this booming industry by easily setting up their own e-commerce shops. In addition to showing your audience that you are able to stay current and up to date on the latest trends, e-commerce comes with a host of other benefits, like visitor tracking, easy customer feedback, and low cost of operation.

6 RM Statistics

  • Ninety-seven percent of people learn about local companies online. Your website isn’t the only way you can reach a broader audience. By using social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, more people will be able to interact with you, share your business page, and see your content. Having a strong presence online is necessary in order to stand out and be seen.
  • Ninety-one percent of customers ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. Your reviews matter! Start taking control of your online reputation first by finding out where you currently stand. Claim your listings today to get started. Your positive reviews will give your business credibility and will act as referrals for potential customers. Even your negative reviews can be positive for you if you respond to them and show your customers that you care about their experience and are willing to reach out and make things right.
  • 82 percent of smartphone shoppers are doing searches, including the phrase ‘near me’, a number that has increased by 900 percent over the last two years. That means it’s more important ever to make sure that, when people are looking for a product or service you provide, you show up in their search! People WANT to support local businesses, but if they can’t find you, you might as well not exist.
  • Forty-three percent of consumers do online research even as they are shopping inside a store. You’ll want them to be able to find your business and the reviews people have left you. You will also want to be in the know about what they might find there. Are your prices competitive? Does another store offer an updated version of the product, or offer it in different colors? You might not know, but your customers certainly will!
  • Ninety-two percent of people conducting searches end up choosing a business that is listed on the first page of local search results. Working on your SEO (search engine optimization) and getting listed on the first page of Google is going to be vital when it comes to getting your business noticed.
  • Fifty percent of consumers who did a search on their phones ended up visiting a store within one day. Make sure your information is up to date and that your website is mobile friendly!

5 Good Reviews

Oh the power of online reviews, what more can we say about you? The fact of the matter is, reviews are a vital piece of your overall reputation and the way people see you and your business. Reviews act as the word of mouth of the modern world, and most people trust online reviews as much as they would a referral from a friend or family member. With most consumers turning to the internet to check reviews before making a decision about a product or service, it’s important that, when they turn to your business, there’s something there! Reviews help establish loyalty with your current customers and trust with potential future customers. Not only that, they also help your company’s SEO , which means they can help you show up in search results. One other crucial role reviews play is to provide you with valuable feedback about your business.

4 SEO Tips

  • Work on your meta descriptions – Meta descriptions are the snippet of text underneath the link in a search engine’s results page. This brief description often
  • helps make a person’s decision about whether or not to click on the link that will take them to your site.
  • Be consistent with creating and publishing content – If your site is constantly being updated with new content, it has better chances of having a higher ranking. Updating your site with new and engaging content offers your customers value and incentive for loyalty. Search engines also know that people are searching for relevant and up-to-date information, so when you provide that, they are likely to place you higher in the results.
  • Do your keyword research – Keywords help search engines understand what makes up your website and know where to rank it. Search patterns, SEO, and relevant keywords are constantly changing, so it’s important to do your research and stay updated on the latest trends.
  • Claim your business profiles – The more trusted websites your business is listed on, the more exposure your business website will get, the better your SEO will be. By claiming your businesses, you can also make sure that the information available about your business is consistent and correct across the board.

3 ORM Myths

  • No reputation is better than a bad reputation – When a potential customer is conducting a search and stumble upon a business with no reviews, they are probably going to think that business is new, has tried to get rid of negative reviews, or worse, is a total scam. Negative reviews are by no means the end of the world, in fact, a few negative reviews, and more importantly, how you respond to them, can actually give you a little more credibility than having only five-star feedback.
  • It’s rude to ask my customers for reviews – Many people have this very outdated notion that they can’t ask anything of their customers, or that it is somehow rude to ask them to leave you a review. When you are asking your customers for a review, you’re not asking them to go out of their way, lie, or to only rate you as the best of the best; on the contrary, asking your customers for their feedback shows them that you value their experience and opinions.
  • I should get rid of my negative reviews – Negative reviews don’t have to be a nail in your business’ coffin. While getting one may feel shocking or like a personal attack, it is important to stay calm and think about how you can use this kind of a review to show your audience the kind of business you want to be. Your response speaks volumes to the kind of business you are and your willingness to fix mistakes. Negative reviews can also give some credibility to your online presence. We can’t all be everyone’s cup of tea, and some variety in your reviews shows that enough people are actually customers of yours to give a varied opinion of you and your service.

2nd page on Google

The importance of a first-page ranking for your business is undeniable. The fact is, businesses with first page rankings end up getting over 90 percent of the traffic. Think about your most recent Google searches; when was the last time you continued your search past the first page? Once your business hits page three, the traffic going to your website will be under five percent. If you’re stuck on page two, get started on increasing your ranking by working on your keywords, claiming your business profiles, and generating more unique content.

…and a Reputation that is Pristine

I know it’s a catchy tune, but hopefully you don’t get this one stuck in your head all day. We hope you enjoyed this festive collection of reputation management tips. If you’re ready to begin on your own online reputation journey, we recommend getting started by checking out Top Rated Local today! Have a safe and wonderful holiday season from all of us here at Top Rated Local!