Repairing Your Online Reputation Part 1

If your business’ online reputation isn’t what you want it to be, all hope isn’t lost.

A business’ online reputation says a lot about it, and it could mean the difference in earning new customers and hearing crickets instead of the phone ringing. However, even for businesses with less-than-stellar online reputations, there’s still hope.

Just as there are a lot of things you can do to build your business’ online reputation from the ground up when you’re just getting started, there are also many things you can do to rebuild an online reputation that you’re not thrilled about.

Having a poor online reputation can feel pretty hopeless, and in this situation, many desperate business owners turn to professional reputation repair companies to help them dig their way out. However, with a little know-how and a willingness to put in some time and effort, there are a lot of things you can do on your own to repair a broken online reputation.

I won’t lie, repairing your online reputation probably won’t be easy, nor will it be quick, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done! All it takes from you is a little know-how, a lot of patience, and a willingness to put in the work.

3 Ways to Repair a Broken Online Reputation

#1. Claim your business listings.

Some review sites and directories require you to sign up to get your business listed, but not all of them are designed this way. Some sites, including Top Rated Local®, pull in listings using an algorithm. So, there’s a chance that, even if you haven’t specifically signed up for a certain directory or review site, your business is listed there anyway. And, if the information that’s listed isn’t accurate or up to date, it does no favors to your online reputation.

When someone tries to call your business using outdated information they’ve found on a listing, it doesn’t exactly create a positive user experience. When they can’t get ahold of you because the phone number listed is no longer active, they’re going to think one of two things — 1) that you’ve gone out of business, or 2) that you’re not even reliable enough to ensure that your phone number is correct. Neither one of these options is a positive thing for your business.

Another problem that can arise from having inconsistent contact information across listings is the damage it can do to your organic rankings. Even small discrepancies in how your address or phone number is listed can hurt your organic rankings, so it’s important to get it right.

Claiming your business listings give you the power to manage them properly, which includes keeping all of your contact information up to date. This goes a long way toward establishing trust with anyone who finds your business online.

#2. If applicable, ask Google to remove a page or website.

Oftentimes, when someone publishes something that’s not exactly complimentary about your business online, there’s not much you can do to counteract it besides flooding the organic rankings with positive sites and pages about your business. But, on occasion, Google will remove pages or websites that violate its policies.

Google certainly won’t remove just any site or page if you ask them to. In general, the only time Google will remove something is if the content is demonstratively false or defames your business, is inappropriate, or violates a copyright.

If you think that something negative about your business online fits these criteria, then you can always contact Google to request that the page or site be removed. However, before you do, it’s always a good idea to contact the owner or editor of the site directly to ask that the offending content be removed. This will be much, much faster than going through Google, and, in many cases, much more successful.

#3. Respond to negative reviews.

One of the most common things that can hurt a local business’ online reputation more than anything else is negative reviews. Research has found that just one negative review could drive away as much as 22 percent of your prospects. I don’t know many local businesses that can afford to lose that many prospects, and if the same is true for your business, your only recourse is to learn how to respond to them.

You have zero control over what a customer or client might say about your business in a review. And, unfortunately, getting a negative review taken down is not always easy or possible; even if you can prove that the review is fake or defamatory, it’s still not a walk in the park to get a review removed. So, that leaves you with only one option: to respond.

Your response is the one thing you can control when you get a negative review, so it’s important to get it right. Here are a few quick tips to help you do just that:

  • Apologize – Apologizing doesn’t have to mean taking responsibility for a situation that’s not your fault, but at the end of the day, you want every customer you work with to have a positive experience. If you believe wholeheartedly that you’re in the right and the review is in the wrong, you should still apologize that they had a negative experience with your business.
  • Demonstrate that you’re listening – Sometimes, unhappy customers just want to vent and be heard. And, it’s important to show them that you are indeed listening and that you care about the feedback you’re being given.
  • Cool off – Sometimes, negative reviews can feel personal and upsetting. Don’t respond in the heat of the moment if you’re upset. Give yourself a few minutes to cool off so that you can respond professionally.
  • Take the conversation offline – Getting into a public argument with a reviewer is not going to be a good thing for your online reputation no matter how you spin it. That’s why it’s always a good idea to invite them to discuss the matter with you directly by giving them your phone number or email address.

Want to learn about more steps you can take to repair a broken online reputation? If so, stay tuned for Part 2 of this series!

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