Reputation Management Tips for Lawyers

Every law firm needs an effective online reputation management strategy.

Regardless of whether your law firm specializes in family law, bankruptcy, personal injury, estate planning, or anything else, there’s a strong possibility that you have more than a little competition online.

With so many different law firms out there claiming to be the most experienced, the most dedicated, the most reliable, and the most communicative, how do you make yours stand out online?

Your law firm’s online reputation is what makes it unique, what makes it stand out, and what gives its visitors a reason to stick around and learn more about it. However, if your online reputation isn’t what you need it to be, it can have the opposite effect.

These days, most people trust online reviews just as much as they trust a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend, neighbor, coworker, or family member. So, for the sake of your future success, it’s critical that you learn how to manage your online reputation properly.

4 Online Reputation Management Tips for Law Firms

#1. Get listed/claim your listings.

The most common place people look for lawyers and law firms is Google, but there are plenty of other places people could be looking. You never know where someone could be searching for a law firm online, and to ensure that your business is as visible as possible to all potential clients, you need to be listed on a variety of review sites and directories.

Whether someone is looking for a law firm on Google, Yelp, or the Better Business Bureau’s website, it’s critical that your business is listed — and that the information listed is up to date. Not only should your law firm be listed on the most popular review sites and directories; there are several others out there that have been made specifically for law firms, including,, Avvo, and

You may find that, on some of these sites, your law firm is already listed. However, even if you already have a listing, your job isn’t done yet. You should also claim the listing, which will make it possible for you to update your business’ information and respond to future reviews.

If you’ve found listings that you didn’t create, they’ve probably been pulled in by an algorithm, and they may not contain accurate information about your business. These listings may have inaccurate or out-of-date contact information, and if someone tries to get ahold of you and ends up calling a number that’s no longer in business or visiting your old law firm, it does nothing good for your online reputation. But, by claiming your listing, you can keep this information up to date.

#2. Earn more reviews.

People don’t often seek the help of law firms when everything in their lives is peachy keen. Most of these people are stressed, under a lot more pressure than they’re accustomed to, and in need of professional and compassionate legal advice. There’s a lot on the line for your clients, and when they can read reviews about your business, it will help to give them peace of mind and confidence.

If the majority of your law firm’s reviews are negative, or if it only has a handful of reviews online, it can greatly damage its online reputation. In cases like these, it’s critical that you start earning more reviews. However, even if your law firm has dozens of five-star reviews and a solid average star rating, earning more reviews should always be a focus for you, especially because people expect recent, up-to-date reviews.

The fact of the matter is that people put a whole lot of stock in online reviews. People looking to work with you have a lot at stake, and the decision to hire you or not might come down to your online reviews. Make sure that you have plenty of them for people to read and reference by making it a point to ask your clients for reviews.

#3. Respond to your reviews.

Asking for reviews is a great way to start earning them for your business. However, you should never ask your clients to say anything specific about your law firm in a review or hint at how many stars they should give you.

While you can start generating more reviews by asking for them, the one thing that’s completely out of your control is what your clients will say about you online. Even if you provide the best possible experience for your client, there’s no guarantee that they’ll leave you a positive review. It’s, unfortunately, out of your hands what people say about your law firm online, but what’s not out of your hands is how you respond to it.

Responding to your law firm’s online reviews demonstrates to your client just how grateful you are that they took the time to write reviews for your business. And, in the case of negative reviews, it also gives you a chance to soothe an upset client and share your side of the story to anyone who might be reading the review and your response to it.

For most types of local businesses, responding to reviews is a lot more straightforward, but as a law firm, you have a code of conduct to consider, as well as binding agreements with your clients on privacy. Make sure that you always keep this in mind and that you never share anyone’s private information online.

#4. Closely monitor your online reputation.

An effective online reputation management strategy is ongoing, not a one-time thing. You can’t just claim your listings, ask one client to leave you a review, and respond to a single review, expecting your online reputation to be what you want it to be. It takes time and consistency to maintain your law firm’s online reputation, and that requires close, regular monitoring.

One of the best ways to stay on top of your law firm’s online reputation is to sign up for/claim your firm’s Top Rated Local® listing. Unlike any other review site, Top Rated Local compiles your reviews from a variety of verified sites across the web, and it offers lots of great tools to help you manage your online reputation as a whole.

A few of the Top Rated Local monitoring tools that you can take advantage of when you claim your listing include real-time notifications of new reviews, an up-to-date Rating Score™ that reflects your reputation across review sites, and a monthly overview of your online reputation as a whole.

Don’t leave your law firm’s online reputation up to chance. Sign up/claim your Top Rated Local listing today!

Why Your Local Business Needs a Website

Does your local business really need a website?

It used to be that the only way for your business to be online was to have a website, but all of that has changed. These days, there are lots of ways to have an online presence, from social media to review sites and directories; however, regardless of whether or not you’re on Facebook or Google My Business, you need a website. It’s simply non-negotiable when it comes to the future success of your business.

Here at Top Rated Local®, we have an awards program that recognizes the businesses with the best reputations in each state across a variety of industries. While auditing our award winners, I’ve been struck more than once by just how many contenders still don’t have websites, and they’re not alone.

Did you know that fewer than two-thirds of all small businesses have a website? The reasons for this may vary, with some businesses believing that they’re too small to need a website, some business owners citing the cost of building a website, and some believing that a website is irrelevant for their industry, among other things. But, the fact of the matter is that, no matter what size your business is, what industry you’re in, how many clients you have, or how many word-of-mouth referrals your clients give you, having a website isn’t optional for your local business or, for that matter, your business’ online reputation.

5 Reasons Why a Website is a Must for Your Local Business

#1. To build an online presence.

The first and most essential reason to build a website for your business is that it’s the first step toward establishing its online presence. Don’t get me wrong, if you have a Facebook page and a Google My Business listing, you’ve got an online presence, but without a website, it’s missing its main hub.

Think of your business’ presence on review sites, social media, and directories as the introduction to your business online. Often, these are the places where people can find your business online, but they’re not their final destination. In most cases, when someone finds you on one of these sites, and they’re interested in the possibility of working with you, they’ll go to your website to learn more about who you are, what you do, and if you have what it takes to meet their needs.

#2. To establish credibility online.

When someone finds your business on a directory or a review site, the next logical step in determining whether or not they want to work with you usually consists of visiting your website. As a result, if you don’t have a website, it can turn visitors off, and many of them will move on to the next business on the list.

Although there are still a large number of small businesses that don’t have a website, consumers still expect that you have one, and if you don’t, it can lead to questions about the credibility of your business. In fact, a majority of people won’t trust a business without a website.

Think about it from a consumer’s perspective. First, they find your business on a directory — let’s say Google My Business. They then spend a few minutes reading your reviews, and you seem like a decent company to work with. Now, they’re at the state where they want to learn more about your business, but there’s no website to visit. Without a website, they’re left wondering if you can meet their needs or if your business is even legitimate. Finally, they decide to move on to the next listing.

#3. To gain more control over your online presence.

There’s a lot that goes on online that’s totally out of your control as a business owner. You can claim your business listings, write your own business description, and respond to your customers’ reviews, but you have no control over what those reviews say. On social media, too, you can start the conversation, but you can’t control it. You have some measure of control over your online presence across the web, but your website is the one and only place where you’re totally in control.

On your website, you decide which testimonials to highlight, which images to use, how to describe your business, etc. It’s the one place where you get to fully decide what kind of impression you make on your visitors and what they come away with.

#4. To inform consumers about what you have to offer.

Too many businesses make the mistake of believing that having a Facebook page or a Google My Business listing is the only thing they need to do online. And, while these sites are great for helping people find your business online, they don’t tell people a whole lot about your business or what you have to offer.

Let’s say someone is looking for a specific service, like the dry foam method of carpet cleaning. They know enough to know that they don’t want a typical carpet cleaner, but there’s no “dry foam” category of carpet cleaning on Yelp. So, when they find a carpet cleaner that looks like they have decent reviews, they go to their website to ensure that they offer what they need.

Directories and listing sites often allow businesses to write their own descriptions, but it’s not always easy or possible to give consumers the information they need to confidently choose their business in a few sentences. Your website is the perfect place to go into more detail about what you offer and how you can help.

#5. To get your name out there.

Staying competitive online means making your business as visible as possible online. That means that, regardless of whether someone is searching Google, Facebook, or Top Rated Local for a local business, your business needs a presence.

Having a website is just one more avenue for people to find your business online, and what’s more is that there are a lot of things you can do on your website that you can’t on your Facebook page or Google My Business listing that will help it rank higher in the organic search results, and for lots more keywords.

Online reputation management is important for every business to think about, but your presence online will never be as strong as it could be unless you have a website. If you’re interested in building your own local business site, visit Websites 360® today!

3 Reasons to Make Customer Service Your Top Priority

Great customer service goes hand in hand with a strong online reputation.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, then you are probably aware that building and maintaining a strong online reputation is a multi-faceted process that involves managing a number of moving pieces. But, at the end of the day, there’s nothing more important than providing great customer service.

You can get your business listed on every review site and every directory. You can check in on your online reputation every day. You can do a number of things to earn more reviews and respond to them religiously. You can make it a point to follow up with your customers after every service or purchase.

All of these things can go a long way toward building the kind of online reputation for your business that will speak for itself, but unfortunately, none of it matters if your customer service isn’t where you need it to be.

At the end of the day, no matter what you do online to manage your online reputation, it’s always going to be a reflection of the kind of service you provide your customers face to face.

3 Reasons to Make Customer Service Your Top Priority

#1. It gives people a reason to choose your brand.

Most businesses in this day and age have quite a bit of competition, and that’s true for businesses in every industry and businesses of all shapes and sizes. So, how do you ensure that your business stands out when there are 20 others in your area that offer the same services or products? By focusing on fantastic customer service!

Seventy percent of consumers say that they will support a company because it provides above-average customer service, and 90 percent say they consider customer service to be a factor when determining whether to do business with a brand. And, if you have a reputation for providing wonderful customer service, people will be willing to spend an average of 17 percent more with you.

People value customer service highly, and with so much competition out there, making customer service a top priority is one of the best things you can do to make your brand stand out.

#2. It leads to brand loyalty.

While it’s always a positive thing to get your name out there and gain new customers, nothing beats customer loyalty. And, how do you ensure that your customers will turn to you time and time again when they have a need for your products or services? By making customer service one of your top priorities!

Thanks to the efforts of friendly customer service representatives, 68 percent of people will remain loyal to a brand and 93 percent will be likely to make another purchase with the company in question. And, an increase in customer retention by just 5 percent can lead to an increase in profit by as much as 25 percent.

In addition to earning repeat business and loyalty, if you can prove your customer service chops to your existing customers, they’ll also be more likely to spread the word about your business. After just one positive experience, 77 percent of customers say they would recommend a brand.

#3. It helps you avoid the pitfalls of poor customer service.

Poor customer service can have just as much of a negative impact on your business’ online reputation just as much — if not more so — than great customer service can have a positive impact.

Did you know that the number one reason why someone decides to switch to a new brand is feeling unappreciated? Unfortunately, even if you do it right more times than not, all it takes is one poor customer experience for 49 percent of Americans to switch to a new brand. Furthermore, it can take up to 12 positive experiences to make up for just one negative experience. Seventy-eight percent of customers who have gone as far as initiating a transaction with your business will back out mid-purchase if they’ve had a negative experience with your customers.

The effects of poor customer service can be long-lasting, and sometimes, it can take companies years to recover. Approximately 39 percent of consumers say that after they’ve had a bad customer service experience, they’ll avoid the business in question for two whole years.

Not only can poor customer service lead to lost customers; it can also lead to negative reviews for your business online, which can hurt your chances of attracting new customers. Forty percent of consumers will tell others not to do business with a company after a negative customer service experience, and 62 percent say they share their negative experiences with other people.

What does great customer service mean to you?

Understanding the importance of focusing on customer service is one thing, but understanding what exactly great customer service means is a whole other ballgame. Is great customer service greeting your customers by name and remembering their order? Is it always having someone there to answer the phone when they call? Is it following up after a service is performed to ensure satisfaction?

Customer service can mean all of this and more, and it can mean different things to different people. But, in general, customers expect quick responses to inquiries, knowledgeable and friendly customer service representatives, the ability to be contacted in a variety of ways, and to enjoy a consistent experience.

How do you translate great customer service into a strong online reputation?

People are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones only, and, sometimes, no matter what you do to please your customers, only a few of them will actually end up writing a review for you. Luckily, it’s easy to get glowing reviews for your business; you just have to ask!

So, the next time one of your customers is going on and on about how satisfied they are with your work or how happy they are with your customer service efforts, do yourself a favor and ask them to share their experience online!

The Basics of Online Reputation Management for Architecture Firms

Having a solid online reputation could be the difference between success and failure for any architecture firm these days.

Gone are the days when people asked friends or neighbors for recommendations for an architect, or when people would look for an architect in a phonebook.

When someone wants to hire an architect nowadays, the search usually starts online. And, when people find your architecture firm online, it’s critical that you’re able to make the right kind of first impression. Otherwise, they’ll move on to the next architect in the search results.

Online reputation management is all about managing what people see when they find your architecture firm online, and it’s an absolutely critical piece of marketing your business online.

Think about how many architects come up on Google when someone searches in your area. Chances are, you’ve got a lot of competition out there, and your ability to make the right kind of impression makes or breaks your ability to convince clients to choose you over your competition.

Understanding the importance of online reputation management is one thing, but actually knowing how to properly manage your online reputation is another. Today, I’ll be going over a few of the basics.

Basic Online Reputation Management Tips for Architecture Firms

#1. Get your business listed on the right sites.

Typically, the search for an architecture firm starts with a Google search, usually for something like “architect near me.” However, that’s just one of the many ways people could find your business online. There are also countless review sites and directories that they could find you on, but in order for that to happen, your business has to be listed on them.

Of course, you want to make sure that your business is listed on Google My Business, Facebook, and other popular sites, but there are several industry-specific sites that you’ll also want to be listed on. Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and Houzz come to mind as a few sites any architecture firm should be listed on.

Once your site is listed on appropriate review sites and directories, you’ll also want to ensure that you claim your listings. This will allow you to update information about your business on those listings.

#2. Ensure that your contact information is the same across listings.

You’ll want to claim and manage your listings on your most valued sites and directories, but there’s a strong possibility that your business is actually listed on many more. And, because you never know how someone might find your business, it’s important to make sure that your contact information is accurate on all of them.

Another reason why this is important is that, any discrepancies in your contact information, like your address, phone number, etc., can negatively impact how your website ranks in the SERP (search engine results pages). It also creates a poor experience for users when they can’t get ahold of you because an outdated phone number or address is listed, which can create distrust in your brand.

You could go to each website and directory your business is listed on one at a time to update your contact information, but who has the time for that? A much easier way to go about this is by utilizing Local Listing Ads® from Marketing 360®, which makes it easy to update more than 50 of the most popular listings across the web in just a few minutes.

#3. Earn more reviews for your business.

Regardless of whether someone finds your business on Google, Yelp, or Houzz, when they do, they’ll read your reviews in order to determine whether or not they want to work with you. People place so much stock in reviews that most trust them just as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend or family member.

However, in order for people to read reviews to learn more about your business, you need to have them in the first place! If you don’t have very many reviews currently, or if your reviews aren’t current, it’s absolutely affecting how people view your business and could be hurting your ability to gain new clients.

The importance of having reviews — current reviews that is — can’t be overstated. Almost nothing is more important to your business’ online reputation than having reviews, and every architecture firm could benefit from making it a point to earn more of them. How do you earn more reviews? The simplest way is just to ask!

#4. Respond to your reviews.

If you’re like most architects, you’ll probably find that most of your clients won’t leave reviews on their own but are more than happy to when you ask. And, if you ask your clients for a review, and they take the time to write one, it’s in your best interest to respond. That’s true whether the review is five stars or one star.

When you respond to your positive, five-star reviews (which will hopefully be most of them), it demonstrates to your clients how thankful you are that they took time out of their day to write the review. It also shows that you listen to their feedback and take it seriously.

But, where you can make the most impact by responding is with your negative reviews. A response to a negative review can be an incredibly powerful thing — so powerful, in fact, that it could turn an unhappy client into a client for life. However, you have to get it right, which means apologizing, owning up to your mistakes, showing the reviewer that you’re listening to their feedback, and showing the reviewer how you’re using their feedback to get better.

These days, having a solid online reputation is not optional for most architecture firms. And, if you want to make the right first impression online, a great place to start is by claiming your Top Rated Local listing! Get started today!

Your Guide to Managing Your Business Listings

There are so many directories out there that your business could be listed on.

You never know how someone might find your business in this day and age. While Google is, by far, the most common place where people search for local businesses, they could also find your business listings on many different directory sites and review sites.

This is a double-edged sword for many businesses. On one hand, when your business is listed on a plethora of review sites and directories, it means that there are a plethora of avenues for people to find your business online. This potentially means more customers and more sales, which is the end goal of any marketing effort.

But, on the other hand, when your business is listed on multiple review sites and directories, it means that you have listings on multiple review sites and directories to manage, and that can quickly become overwhelming, especially if your business is listed on dozens of sites.

If someone finds your business on a directory that you haven’t updated in a while, it’s possible that they’ll get an old phone number or an old address. If people can’t get ahold of you, it will lead them to believe that either you have gone out of business or don’t care enough to keep your business information up to date — neither of which is a good thing for your business’ online reputation.

Another reason why it’s important to ensure consistency in your business information is that, if you don’t, it could hurt how your website ranks organically in the SERP (search engine results pages). Google rewards businesses that diligently take care of their online presence, and that means managing your listings.

Today, I’m going to break down a few steps you can take to make managing all of those listings easier.

How to Manage Your Business Listing Across the Web

Step #1. Figure out where you’re listed.

Sometimes, your business is listed on directories and review sites because you signed up for them. Other times, your business information gets pulled in by an algorithm. Either way, the first step to managing your business’ listings is finding out where they are.

There are lots of tools out there that you can use to determine where your business is listed. Yext even offers a free scan of business listings online across more than 50 services, including Google, Yellow Pages, Bing, and many, many more.

Step #2. Pick your most important listings.

Once you run a listings scan for your business, there’s a good chance that you’ll find that your business is listed on dozens of sites across the web. The idea that you’d be able to manage all of them is nice, but not practical for most small business owners. There is a fast way to, at least, ensure that your business information is accurate across all listings, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

There are only so many listings that you’ll really be able to manage, so it’s important to figure out what your top priorities are, as well as how much time you’re willing to spend on managing your listings. A good place to start is by choosing 10 or 15 listings that are your highest priorities. You can always manage more listings in the future if you find you have the time, or fewer if you’re feeling pressed for time.

When you’re selecting your top listings to manage, be sure to consider both popular sites and sites specific to your industry. There are many review sites and directories that are industry-specific, and you’ll want to make sure you choose the most popular options for your industry. For example, if your business has anything to do with weddings — like if you’re a photographer, caterer, event planner, etc. — you’ll want to make sure that you’re listed on The Knot. And, if you’re a home contractor, you’ll want to make sure you’re listed on HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List.

Step #3. Claim your listings.

Now that you have a good list of your high-priority listings, it’s time to claim those listings. Claiming your listings gives you greater control over the information people find on them, and it allows you to optimize listings for increased conversions and better representation of your brand.

When you claim your listings, it allows you to update your contact information, which will ensure that people can always get ahold of you when they need to. It will also allow you to upload photos and a more personalized business description, which you can optimize with your most valued SEO keywords.

Step #4. Update your contact information.

There’s a lot of business information that you’ll want to keep secure and protected, but any information that can be used to get ahold of you or visit your business, like your phone number, address, and business hours, needs to be shouted from the mountaintops. And, that means updating that information on all of your listings across the web.

Ensuring that your business is listed correctly establishes trust in your brand, makes it easier for people to contact you when they need you, and is even helpful for your SEO. However, if the idea of updating dozens of listings one at a time seems daunting, that’s because it is. Luckily, though, there’s an easier way.

The Local Listing Ads® program from Marketing 360® helps you get listed and manage your listings across more than 50 of the most popular sites and apps without the arduous task of updating them one at a time. It’s a program that will save you time — which means that it will save you money — and it will give you peace of mind knowing that your information is listed exactly the same way across the web.

Managing your listings across the web takes some time, but it’s an important piece of the online reputation management puzzle. A great place to start managing your listing is by claiming your Top Rated Local® profile! Get started today!

Tips for Creating Content More Consistently

Consistent content creation is an important part of the online reputation management puzzle.

There are many things that go into an effective online reputation strategy. You’ll need to claim your listings and keep them updated, consistently check in on review sites for new reviews, and respond to your reviews on a regular basis — just to name a few of them.

However, reputation management isn’t just about exercising some level of control over what people are saying about your brand online; it’s also about controlling the results people find when they look up your brand online.

When someone googles your business online, are they inundated with negative reviews and bad press, or do they find your website, social media profiles, press releases, and more?

Ensuring that, when people google your business, they find what you want them to is all about SEO (search engine optimization), and when it comes to SEO, there’s almost nothing more important than creating content consistently.

Google recognizes businesses that provide their customers with content that’s original, high-quality, and valuable on a regular basis, but creating content consistently isn’t always easy. What do you write about every day? How do you come up with fresh, new ideas?

5 Tips for Creating Content More Consistently

#1. Share your own unique knowledge.

As a local business owner, chances are, you have a lot of knowledge to share. Whether you’re a chiropractor, a plumber, or an arborist, you know a thing or two that the rest of us don’t, and that kind of knowledge makes the perfect content to put on your website and to share on social media.

When Google ranks sites, it’s not looking for who can regurgitate the same information the most over and over and over again; it’s looking for content that’s original and authentic. And, as an industry expert, you’re in the best place to provide that kind of content.

How do you figure out what kind of knowledge to share? Pull examples from your day-to-day. If you’re an arborist, and a lot of your clients have been asking how often they should get their trees pruned or why it’s important to get them pruned, share that information in a blog or on social media!

#2. Save ideas for future content as you find them.

If you wait until you’re ready to sit down and start blogging to think of a topic to write about, it’s going to make the whole process a lot longer and a lot harder than it has to be. You’ll be a lot better off (and you’ll be able to produce content a lot more consistently) if you have a few ideas socked away for future topics.

Oftentimes, when you’re doing research or on a job, you’ll come up with a great idea for a blog or a social media post. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of believing that you’ll remember it later. As a business owner, you have a lot going on, and the reality is that you’re probably not going to remember it.

Instead, take a minute to jot down any ideas you have in the moment, and keep them saved somewhere you can reference them later on. This way, you’ll always have something to write about.

#3. Let feedback guide you.

There are all kinds of content that you could be creating for your audience, but not all of it will be effective or helpful for your brand. Luckily, you can use feedback on the content you’ve created so far to guide you when it comes to the type of content you’ll be producing in the future.

There are many places you could go to get feedback into the type of content you’re creating. One way to go about this is by using social analytics to find out which of your social media posts get the most engagement and clicks. On your website, you can keep track of how your content is ranking. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to feedback in any comments.

Another way to go about gathering feedback about your content is to simply ask for it. When you talk with your clients, it doesn’t hurt to ask them what they would like to learn or about any questions they may have that your content could answer.

#4. Outsource some of your content.

No matter how much knowledge and experience you have, and how many sources of fresh topics you have at your disposal, keeping up on consistently producing content can be a lot of work. It can also get old quickly and easily become something that gets put on the backburner when your schedule starts to fill up.

But, there’s no rule that says that you have to produce all of your own content. In fact, if you are able to outsource some of your content to others, it will stay more fresh and interesting for your audience.

One great resource for content might be other businesses that you partner with. Ask them to publish content on your blogs in exchange for publishing content on theirs. This is also a great way to earn backlinks to your site, which will help with your organic rankings.

#5. Remember that there are many different types of content!

Traditionally, when most people think of creating content, they think of publishing new blogs on their website or giving followers tips on social media. However, it’s important to remember that content creation goes far beyond text, and whether you’re sharing a video tutorial, an infographic, or even photos of your team volunteering or celebrating at your annual company party — it all counts as creating content.

If you limit yourself to text-based content, it’s going to feel like consistent content creation is an uphill battle. But, when you open yourself up to all kinds of content, it will help you tap into your own creativity and make it easy for you to consistently produce new content.

Consistently creating content is an important part of SEO, which is an important part of building and maintaining a strong online reputation for your business. And, the good news is that there are lots of things you can do to make creating content on a regular basis easier and less time-consuming.

A Dental Clinic’s Guide to Reputation Management

These days, every dental clinic needs a solid online reputation.

Back in the day, when someone was having a toothache or was due for their semi-annual dental exam, they’d ask a friend, a coworker, or maybe a family member for a recommendation for a local dentist. Or, if they were desperate enough, they might look up a dentist in the yellow pages.

Today, however, people are much more likely to search “dentist near me” on Google or on a directory site, like Top Rated Local®, than they are to look in the yellow pages. And, instead of asking for a recommendation or a referral from someone they personally know, they’ll read reviews online for local dental clinics to find the best one for their needs.

This means two things for dental clinics in 2020. One, you need to be able to be found online. And, two, you need the kind of online reputation that speaks for itself whenever people do find you online.

4 Steps to Building and Maintaining a Strong Online Reputation for Your Dental Clinic

Step #1. Claim and update your listings.

Assuming that you already have a website for your business, chances are, your business is already listed across a wide range of online directories and reviews sites. These sites generally utilize algorithms that pull in businesses’ information from across the web, and whether you’re aware of it or not, there’s a good possibility that your business is already listed on many of them.

Having your business listed across a variety of directories and review sites is beneficial because it gives you more visibility. However, if your business has ever moved to a new location or switched to a new phone number, when people find you on those review sites and directories, they might not be able to get ahold of you.

The algorithms that pull your information in won’t automatically update it when it changes, which is why it’s important that you claim your listings. When you do, you’ll be able to update the information about your business as needed. This way, regardless of whether a patient finds you on Google, Yelp, or Top Rated Local, they’ll always be able to get ahold of you.

Step #2. Generate more reviews.

When someone looks for a dentist online in their local area, they’ll get dozens, if not hundreds, of results to sift through. But, how do they pick the right dentist, especially when dentists generally offer similar services and all claim to be the best, the most caring, and have the ability to get you the best results? The only way to narrow down their options is by reading reviews.

Reading your reviews allows people to learn what it’s like to be your patient without ever having to step through your doors, and it gives them the confidence to choose you over the many other dentists out there. However, in order for people to read your reviews, you need to have them in the first place!

A lot of people will immediately write reviews about the restaurant they visited Friday night, but when it comes to dental visits, they just don’t think about it. And, it’s up to you to remind them. You could do this by hanging signage, sending follow-up emails after patients visit or text message reminders, but the easiest way is to simply ask!

Step #3. Respond to your reviews.

Generating plenty of reviews is great for the health of your online reputation, but once you get them, your job isn’t done yet. You also need to respond to those reviews, particularly if you get any negative reviews.

Negative reviews can set a bad taste in the mouths of people researching your business online, but you can easily and effectively turn the situation around when you respond. In addition to giving you the chance to show off your customer service skills, when you respond to a negative review, it gives you a chance to tell your side of the story.

Whether you’re responding to positive or negative reviews, however, it’s essential that you’re always careful that you don’t violate HIPAA. This means that, in your response, you can’t say anything that identifies or confirms this person as one of your patients. So, instead of saying something like, “We’re sorry you were disappointed with your visit with Dr. Smith,” say something more generic, like, “We’re sorry your experience didn’t live up to your expectations…”

Check out our previous blog to learn more about responding to reviews without violating HIPAA.

Step #4. Be in the know about the health of your online reputation.

Your online reputation is a lot like dental health. You can’t just go to the dentist one time and expect to have a healthy smile for the rest of your life. You have to brush your teeth and floss every day, and you also have to go to the dentist every six months for an examination and cleaning in order to keep your smile healthy and beautiful. The same is true of your online reputation; it’s not something that you can do once and then forget about.

It takes work to build a strong online reputation, and once you do, it takes consistency in order to keep it that way. You never know what your patients might be saying about your dental clinic online, and the only way to stay on top of it is to monitor it on a regular basis.

There are a lot of great tools out there that can help you keep better track of how your dental clinic is doing online, but one of the most comprehensive is Top Rated Local. When you claim your Top Rated Local listings, you’ll enjoy a whole host of monitoring tools, including real-time notifications when you get reviews, a monthly report outlining your online reputation as a whole, and up-to-date Rating Score™ that reflects your online reputation across a long list of verified review sources.

Are you ready to start taking control of your dental clinic’s online reputation? If so, become a Top Rated Local dentist in your area today by claiming your listing!

The Benefits of Operating With Empathy

These days, a brand that operates with empathy is a brand that stands out.

There has been a long list of marketing buzzwords over the years, but in 2020, no buzzword is quite as important for a brand’s online reputation than “empathy.”

Empathy — not to be confused with sympathy, which is a feeling of passion — is the feeling you have when you truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes, allowing you to identify with their situation on a whole new level.

It’s easy to see how people operate with empathy in their personal lives, but what does it look like in marketing and brand management?

Empathy in marketing means putting yourself in your customers’ shoes so that you can figure out what they actually value instead of just what sells. It also means creating content that helps to evoke empathy in your customers and promote change within the community.

4 Ways Operating With Empathy Benefits Your Brand

#1. It increases productivity and innovation.

When you operate with empathy, you give your employees a reason to do what they do every day that goes beyond just making a sale or getting through a transaction. When your employees can understand the why behind what they’re doing, and they can see how it impacts the people they serve, it will not only help to fuel the fire of productivity, but it will also lead to greater innovation within your organization.

However, in order to see the benefits of empathy in productivity and innovation, you first need to have the right kind of staff in place. Unlike being technical savvy or having years of experience, empathy is a soft skill that not many businesses hire for, but in 2017 Google did a study that showed just how important soft skills are to a business’ success.

Google’s study, Project Aristotle, found that its most valuable new ideas didn’t come from their top software engineers or computer scientists — they came from B-teams that consisted of employees who had soft skills, including generosity, curiosity, and, yes, empathy.

Employees who operate with empathy are always working to do what’s best for their customers, which often means finding ways to be more productive and innovative.

#2. It leads to more sales and loyalty.

It’s easy to see how empathy plays a role in an effective sales process. After all, everyone knows that the key to making a sale is the ability to understand and anticipate the customer’s needs, and to be able to demonstrate how the product or service in question can meet those needs.

Not only can operating with empathy help you increase sales within your organization, it also leads to increased customer loyalty. That’s because customers and clients who are treated with empathy don’t feel like you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes in order to make a sale. Instead, they feel like you truly care about finding the best option for their needs, and for most people, that’s the kind of business they want to work with.

Empathy is a proven sales strategy, and its power in turning one-time customers into lifelong customers is undeniable, but too often, it’s overlooked. Instead of really putting themselves in their customers’ shoes to find a solution that works for them, too many businesses are focused on how to get the biggest sale.

That’s because operating with empathy is the long game. Instead of figuring out how to get the most money out of your customers now, operating with empathy is about building loyal, long-term relationships with customers.

#3. It creates greater job satisfaction and decreases employee turnover.

These days, your employees have a lot of options when it comes to their careers. Not only is the unemployment rate low and the demand for quality workers high, but with the “gig economy,” fewer and fewer people are going the traditional route of working for an established business. Nowadays, more people than ever are freelancing, consulting, or are otherwise self-employed.

Every business knows that success is dependent on the people out there doing the job day in and day out, and how do you ensure that your employees stick around and continue to want to do a good job for you? By operating with empathy!

When a business operates with empathy and encourages its employees to do the same, it leads to greater job satisfaction, as well as a decrease in employee turnover. The simple fact of the matter is that people need a reason beyond just making a sale or helping the business to be profitable in order to be their most engaged, and when you operate with empathy, you’re giving them that reason.

#4. It makes you stand out online and off.

A lot of people think that the companies that are the most successful are the ones that were willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead and to win at any cost. And, while a can-do spirit and a willingness to whatever it takes is essential to success, successful businesses know the importance of operating with empathy.

A business that’s operating with empathy will do whatever it takes to meet their customers’ needs; while a business that’s not operating with empathy will do whatever it takes to make a sale. It’s that difference that will make that business stand out online and offline.

In this day and age, a business’ online reputation is everything. Whether someone is looking for a local painter or a friendly neighborhood barber shop, they’re going to start that search online. And, when you operate with empathy, your online reviews and reputation will reflect that.

Operating with empathy may seem like the fastest or most efficient way to do things, but as you can see, it pays off. There are so many reasons to operate with empathy in your business. Your online reputation — and your bottom line — will thank you for it!

Content Marketing Tips for Local Businesses

With content marketing, you control the conversation online.

There are many aspects to a business’ online reputation — one of which consists of what people say about your business online, and the other has to do with what comes up when someone searches for your business online, which is all about SEO (search engine optimization).

You can’t control everything people say about your business online, and, in many cases, you probably won’t be able to get it removed or taken down — at least not without a good amount of effort on your part. But, through SEO, you have a lot more control over what people see when they look for your business using Google, Bing, or another search engine.

SEO can be intimidating, and a lot of business owners don’t even attempt to master it because they believe they don’t have the technical skill or know-how. But, if you had a chance to read our previous blog this week — Simplifying SEO for Local Businesses — then you already know that it really doesn’t have to be complicated. The basics of SEO are keyword research, content, and backlinking, and once you have those down, you don’t have to worry too much about the technical side of things.

Today, my focus is on just one aspect of those SEO basics, and that’s content.

We’ve said it many, many times before in past blogs, but it bears repeating — when it comes to SEO, content is king. But, it’s in producing that content that many business owners get caught in the weeds.

5 Content Marketing Tips to Help You Get Started

#1. Know your target audience.

When you’re creating content for your brand, it’s important that you always do so with your target audience in mind, which means that, before you start creating content, you need to know who your target audience is.

Take a few minutes to think about the customers you have, as well as the ones you’re trying to reach. Do you work mostly with homeowners, or do you work with other businesses? Are your services geared toward a specific gender or age group; what about a specific socioeconomic group? Do you want to target people within so many miles of your shop, office, or warehouse? Are your services designed for married couples, or are your services most useful for people with certain kinds of lifestyles?

Your target audience can be as broad or as narrow as you want it to be, but before you start creating content, it’s essential that you define what it is. Once you do, you’ll be able to start creating content specifically for them.

#2. Don’t limit yourself to a content type.

Too often, when business owners think of creating content, they think of writing blogs. And, while blogs are certainly a powerful form of content that you should absolutely utilize as a part of your SEO strategy, they aren’t the end-all-be-all that they are made out to be.

There are so many different types of content that you could create for your audience, including videos, images, articles, and more — all of which can be incredibly effective when used correctly. The type of content you choose to produce will depend on what the message is that you’re trying to get across, as well as where you’re trying to get that message across.

For example, let’s say you own an HVAC business. Your blog may be the perfect place to share tips and advice for choosing the right furnace for your needs, but if you’re looking to share that information on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll have better luck if you do so with an infographic or a video.

#3. Think about your keywords.

Knowing which keywords you want to target is another important aspect of content marketing (be sure to read more about it in our previous blog — Finding the Best Keywords for Your Brand). And, once you identify which keywords you want to target, you need to start using them!

Whether you’re writing blogs, social media posts, or creating descriptions for your YouTube videos, you should always keep your keywords in mind. The most important thing about using keywords in your content is that you use them naturally. If you try to stuff keywords into awkward places, Google can actually penalize you for keyword stuffing, which can hurt your website’s ranking in the SERP.

You also don’t have to worry about using your keywords exactly. While exact-match keywords are great, the most important thing is still that keywords are used naturally, even if it ends up being a variation of a keyword.

#4. Include a call to action.

When creating content, it’s important to take the time to think about what you want the end result to be. Are you hoping to convince people to buy a product or use a service, or are you just hoping to establish yourself as an authority in your field? Once you identify the result you’re looking for, create a CTA (call to action) to support it.

Whether your goal is to earn more followers on Facebook, get people to visit your store, or to subscribe to your monthly newsletter, direct your audience toward it by including a CTA in your content.

Be sure to test out your CTAs, the wording, the placement, the format — everything. You may think you know what kind of CTA will get you the most engagement, but there’s no way to know unless you test it.

#5. Get help!

The thought of being the one person managing and producing all of your own content can get overwhelming quickly. And, you’ll be glad to know that you don’t necessarily have to do it on your own.

Collaborating with others is a great way to keep your brand content fresh and original, and it automatically leads to a bigger audience, as the person you’re collaborating will likely want to share it, too. If that person links back to your website, that will also help to improve your rankings in the SERP.

Who should you collaborate with? Industry associations, your local chamber of commerce, and businesses that are related to yours (but are not your competitors) are all great options.

Content marketing is one small aspect of your business’ online reputation. Learn how to take control of your online reputation today by signing up/claiming your Top Rated Local® listing!

How to Get the Most Out of Google My Business

Google My Business is one of the best weapons in any local business’ arsenal.

When someone is looking for the right local business to work with — say an accounting firm or maybe a physical therapy clinic — they’ll often start that search online, on Google specifically. And, when someone looks for your business online, what will they find?

If, let’s say, someone was looking for your business email address or phone number, how easy would it be for them to find it? Or, if someone wanted to know if you’ll be open on the weekends or during a holiday, would they be able to easily find that information?

This is where Google My Business comes in. Although a lot of that information can be found on your website, Google My Business makes it easy to find because it shows up right in the search results. That’s also why it’s so essential that you either sign up for Google My Business if you haven’t already, or claim your listing if there’s already one for your business.

Be sure to check out our previous blog to learn how to claim your Google My Business listing.

Get the most out of your Google My Business listing by optimizing it!

Signing up for Google My Business or claiming your listing is a great first step, and once you do, you’ll need to learn how to make the most out of it. Optimizing your Google My Business listing will help to ensure that your business gets found online, which is what it’s all about, really.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your Google My Business listing:

#1. Update your information.

Your core business information — business name, website, phone number, address, category, attributes, and, finally, description. A part of your optimization process should include making sure that all of this information is up to date and listed exactly the way that it’s listed on your website.

Google Maps uses this information to index your business, which makes it the basis of your SEO strategy, so it’s essential that you get it right. If there are any inconsistencies between your Google My Business listing and your website, it can hurt your website’s rankings in the SERP (search engine results pages). For instance, if “drive” is spelled out on your website and abbreviated on your listing.

#2. Add high-quality images.

Your Google My Business listing is often the first interaction potential customers will have with your business online, and it’s important to make the right kind of first impression. Using high-quality, high-resolution images is one of the best ways to do that.

Blurry, low-quality images make it all too easy for people to skip over your listing. After all, there’s a lot of competition out there, and you need to give people a reason to choose your business over the many others. That’s why, if necessary, hiring a photographer that can help you capture your business in the best light is not the worst idea.

#3. Generate more reviews.

People check out your Google My Business listing for a lot of reasons, but the two main ones are to learn how to get ahold of you and to read reviews about your business. Think of reviews as the word of mouth of yesteryear.

Don’t get me wrong, word of mouth is still a powerful thing — probably the most effective form of advertising there is — it’s just not as common for people to ask for personal referrals as it used to be. Instead, most people will turn to Google, and they’ll read reviews to help them determine whether or not to work with your business.

If you have only so-so reviews, only months- or years-old reviews, or, worse, no reviews at all, most people will move on to the next listing. That’s why it’s important to put an effort into generating reviews for your website. Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Ask for reviews! – Asking is the most effective and most straightforward way to get reviews. You might be surprised at how many people are more than willing to write a review for you when you just ask.
  • Send follow-up emails – After the sale has been made or the service has been completed, follow-up with your clients or customers in an email, telling them how much you value their feedback and letting them know where they can write a review for you (make sure to include links!).
  • Incentivize reviews – Offering to enter customers who write reviews in a drawing or sweepstakes is an effective way to get more reviews. But, be careful with this one. Google does not look kindly on businesses that bribe customers for five-star reviews.

#4. Respond to your reviews!

When your customers do take time out of their busy schedule to write a review for your business, it’s important that you also take the time to respond to it. Responding is important, and you should respond to every review, not just the positive ones. In fact, it’s especially important that you respond to negative reviews.

Your response to a negative review is your chance to share your side of the story, but make sure that you’re not minimizing their experience or responding in a defensive manner. And don’t get in a public argument with someone, either. You’ll only come out looking petty to anyone reading the reviews. Instead, give the reviewer your phone number or email address, and invite them to contact you directly to discuss it.

When done correctly, your response to a negative review gives you a tremendous opportunity to turn a negative experience around, earn a customer for life, and let any prospective customers know how much you value providing a great experience for them.

Take your online reputation to the next level with Top Rated Local®.

Optimizing your Google My Business listing can do great things for your business’ online reputation, but it’s not the only thing you can do to keep it strong. Claim your Top Rated Local listing today to take your business’ online reputation to the next level!