How to Monitor Your Online Reputation

An effective reputation management strategy involves regular monitoring.

Reputation management is akin to physical health. Just as you can’t just go to the gym one time and expect to be in great shape for the rest of your life, you can’t expect your online reputation to get strong by merely claiming your listings or responding to a single review.

And, just as building physical strength and maintaining that strength takes constant vigilance, so does building and maintaining a strong online reputation for your business. It’s not an overnight thing; it takes time, hard work, and, maybe most important of all, consistency.

In order for your reputation management strategy to truly be effective, it needs to be about staying up to date on how your business’ online reputation is doing on a regular basis.

A negative review is really not a big deal and can sometimes even be a beneficial thing for your business, but only if you’re able to turn the situation around with your response. And, the longer you leave a negative review unresponded to, the more weight and truth you’re giving it, at least in the eyes of anyone researching your business online.

You don’t have any control over what other people say about your business online, and you also never know when someone is going to surprise you with a one-star review. That’s why monitoring your online reputation should be a regular thing in your schedule.

Tips for Staying on Top of Your Online Reputation

#1. Check review sites.

It may be obvious, but one of the most critical parts of monitoring your online reputation is checking any review sites your business is listed on regularly. Responding to reviews, whether they’re positive or negative, is a great habit to get into, and what’s more is that your customers expect a response from you. That means that you need to be in the know about any new reviews by checking on your review sites.

Not only do your customers expect a response from you when they write a review for you; they expect a prompt response. If you only check your review sites sporadically, you can’t possibly respond to them in a timely manner.

#2. Keep track of social media accounts.

Most business owners know that they should post on their social media profiles consistently. But, even if you don’t post on social media every single day, you still need to login and check on your social media accounts.

Just as people expect you to respond when they review your business online, they also expect you to respond when they engage with you on social media. And, the only way that you will keep up is if you monitor your social media accounts consistently.

In addition to logging into your social media profiles, it’s also important to be aware of any mentions of your handles or any time your hashtags are used. This will help you avoid using a hashtag that overlaps with another business’.

#3. Keep up with your blog.

Blogging is an essential part of ensuring that your website stays visible online, and it’s important that you are publishing new blogs on a regular basis. Blogs should be informative, original, and helpful to your audience. Blogs should be your outlet for sharing your knowledge and expertise with the world. What they shouldn’t be is totally self-promotional.

Not only should you publish new blogs to your website regularly, but after you publish blogs, you should watch out for comments if you’ve left them on. There are pros and cons to leaving comments on. When people legitimately comment, it gives you valuable insight into what people think of your content. However, leaving comments open also leaves you open to spam comments, which can hurt the legitimacy of your blog.

#4. Set up Google Alerts.

One of the best available tools for monitoring your business’ online reputation is Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, you’ll be in the know every single time someone mentions your brand online. It can also notify you when new content is published that contains keywords you’re targeting.

In addition to using Google Alerts to keep up with any mentions of your brand online, you can also use it to help you stay on top of what people are saying about your competition. This will give you a competitive edge when planning your digital marketing strategy.

#5. Claim your Top Rated Local® profile.

There are so many things you can do to stay on top of your business’ online reputation. Unfortunately, monitoring four different social media accounts and six different review sites can get exhausting, and there’s a good chance that you don’t have a whole lot of time in your schedule to stay on top of a lot of different sites. Luckily, there’s a solution — Top Rated Local.

Top Rated Local is your one-stop shop for reputation management, and, when you claim your profile, you’ll have lots of reputation management tools at your disposal. For example, Top Rated Local businesses get real-time notifications of new reviews, which means that you won’t have to check review sites individually for new reviews. You’ll also get a monthly report on your online reputation as a whole, as well as a Rating Score™ out of 100.00 that’s kept up to date and gives you a quick look at your overall online reputation.

Another benefit of claiming your Top Rated Local profile is that you’ll be able to put a badge on your website that will make it easy for people to read all of your reviews from one convenient place. Furthermore, having the Top Rated Local badge on your site will help to give it authority and establish trust in your visitors.

Monitoring your online reputation doesn’t have to mean visiting dozens of reviews sites and social media profiles. Stay in the know about your online reputation by becoming a Top Rated Local business today!

How Not to Respond to Negative Reviews

When someone writes a review for your business, you need to respond.

Did you know that most people will read a local business’ reviews before deciding to work with them? You’d think that, if that were true, it’d be easy to get your customers to write reviews for you, but unfortunately, that’s not usually the case.

While, yes, a lot of people will willingly write a review for your business if you ask them to, you have to ask. You can’t expect your customer service to speak for itself or for your good service alone to compel your customers to write a review for you. The sad fact is that most people won’t write one on their own, not because they don’t care or don’t want to support your business; they just don’t think about it.

It’s for this reason that, when someone does take a few minutes out of their day to write a review for your business, you take the time to respond to it. It’s just common courtesy. It’s important to respond to every review, but it’s absolutely critical that you respond to your negative reviews.

When you respond to a negative review the right way, you can tell your side of the story, turn around a negative customer experience, and show the world how committed you are to providing a great experience for your customers. But, you could all too easily get it wrong, and that can make a bad situation worse.

4 Common Mistakes Businesses Make While Responding to Negative Reviews

Mistake #1. Not giving yourself time to cool off.

It’s not easy to get negative feedback about your business, and sometimes, that feedback won’t even be fair from where you’re sitting. In these cases, it’s all too easy to get upset and defensive, and that’s OK. However, it’s critical that you don’t come off as upset and defensive in your reply.

When someone says something about your business that may seem unfair or inaccurate, your first inclination may be to respond right away to set the record straight. But, if you’re feeling at all upset or emotional, giving yourself a few minutes to cool off is a key step toward responding in the most professional possible way.

Mistake #2. Failing to own up to your mistakes.

As I mentioned, not every review you get will seem fair or accurate in your mind, but that doesn’t mean that it’s fake or that it isn’t an accurate representation of what the customer experienced with your business. Perception is reality, and even if what the customer perceived isn’t the reality of the situation, to them, it will be. It’s important to recognize that in your response.

Owning up to your mistakes doesn’t have to mean taking responsibility for things you didn’t do or have no control over, but it does involve taking a long, hard look at the situation and figuring out what you could have done differently to remedy it.

Even if the issue wasn’t your fault, the customer still had a poor experience with your business, and it’s up to you to apologize to them for their experience. It’s not always easy, but when responding to negative reviews, it’s important that you be the bigger person.

Mistake #3. Getting into a public argument online.

If the reviewer got the situation completely wrong, or if you there were extenuating circumstances that the customer needs to know about, it’s completely acceptable to share your side of the story, but that doesn’t mean that you should allow yourself to get into a public back and forth about it online.

Sometimes, people will accept your response and explanation as what happened, but other times, people just want to complain and be heard. It’s those people that may push back and see your explanation as an excuse, and it’s in those circumstances where your best bet is to take the conversation offline.

If a customer is not willing to accept your explanation or attempts to make it right, apologize and invite them to call or email you to discuss the matter further. If you continue talking about it in public, the possibility is too strong that it will end up in an argument that will only make you look petty.

Mistake #4. Not learning from real feedback.

We are all human, and we all make mistakes. It happens. However, it’s what we learn from those mistakes and what we do with what we’ve learned that helps us grow and get better, and the same principles apply to your business.

Some feedback doesn’t require a lot of reflection or evolution. For instance, let’s say you own a restaurant and one of your servers forgot to put in a drink order or accidentally put in the wrong order for the table. This may mean that the server in question needs more training, but these kinds of mistakes can happen to even the most experienced servers, so they may just be the result of a bad day.

However, other types of feedback aren’t so easy to brush off and may be indicative of a much bigger problem that needs to be addressed within your organization. This is the type of feedback that you should really look at and take to heart because listening to it might be critical to the future success of your business and the happiness of your customers.

It’s not enough to accept feedback, though; you also have to make changes based on that feedback. It also helps to explain the changes you’ll be making in your response to the negative review in question.

Responding to reviews is just one small part of online reputation management.

Reviews play a big role in how people see your business online, and responding to reviews is critical for showing your customers how much you value their feedback and getting your side of the story out there. However, responding to reviews is just one small part of online reputation management.

Become a Top Rated Local® business today to start managing your online reputation like a professional!

The Importance of Diversifying Review Sources

It’s not enough that your website is listed on Google.

Every local business needs to claim its Google My Business listing. It’s an essential step toward ensuring that your website ranks in the Google Maps results, and it’s a go-to source online for many people to read reviews. But, for the sake of your business’ online reputation, it’s not the only place your business should be listed on (or the only listing you should claim).

From Facebook to Yelp, there are so many different places where your business can be reviewed online. Some of these sites are more general and work for a variety of different businesses; whereas, some of them are geared more toward specific industries. For example, if your business has anything to do with weddings, it’s important to be listed on The Knot, or if your business is involved with home improvement, it’s important to be listed on HomeAdvisor. It behooves you for your business to be listed — and for you to claim that listing — on as many different relevant websites as possible.

3 Reasons to Diversify Your Review Sources

#1. You never know where you might be found.

A lot of people think that the only way people find businesses online is by searching Google for a keyword. And, while it may be true that most people find businesses that way, it’s not the only way people might find your business online.

You never know how someone might find your business. If you’re a real estate agent, someone might find you while searching Zillow. Or, someone might find a restaurant by searching the online Zagat guide. The point is, wherever people are looking, your business should be listed.

There’s a good chance that, whether you’ve signed up for review sites or not, your business is already listed on many of them. When people find you on those review sites, however, it’s important that the information they find is accurate.

Claiming your listings will allow you to update and correct any information that’s listed about your business, ensuring that people will always know how to get ahold of you wherever they find you.

#2. Make it easy for people to write reviews for you.

These days, most people read reviews online before making a decision about whether or not to trust a local business. That means that your business needs reviews for people to read when they research you online. One might also think it means that a lot of people write reviews online for a business, but unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

No matter how much you wow your customers by going above and beyond in the service you provide for them, the sad fact is that people lead busy lives and just don’t think about writing reviews for businesses. However, most people will happily write you one if you ask, and when you do, it’s a great idea to make sure that they can review your business whenever they feel most comfortable.

While most review sites don’t require that people have an account or a profile to write a review, there are some sites people are just going to feel more comfortable using. It can be difficult enough to get people to write reviews as it is; make it a little easier by being listed on the sites they’re most comfortable using.

#3. Respond to reviews wherever they’re left.

As I previously mentioned, the fact that you haven’t claimed a listing a particular review site doesn’t necessarily mean that the listing doesn’t exist, or that people won’t leave reviews for you on that site. Unfortunately, leaving a listing unclaimed also means giving up your ability to manage that listing and respond to reviews.

Responding to reviews is one of the most important aspects of maintaining your business’ online reputation. You can’t change what people say about your business online, and even inaccurate or libelous reviews can be nearly impossible to get taken down by review sites. You can only control how you respond to what people say about your business online, and in order to do that, you need to claim your listings.

No matter whether a review is negative or positive, responding demonstrates that you recognize the fact that a customer took the time to give you their feedback online, and that means a lot. Furthermore, in the case of negative reviews, responding allows you to share your side of the story and show off your commitment to great customer service.

How do you manage your online reputation across so many review sources?

It’s easy to see why it’s important that you claim your business listings across a variety of review sources, but you might be wondering how in the world you’ll be able to manage them all. The idea of checking seven or eight different websites for new reviews can seem daunting, and you’ll be glad to know that Top Rated Local® makes it easy to manage your online reputation as a whole across the web.

When you claim your Top Rated Local listing, you’ll get real-time notifications when you get new reviews, a monthly overview of your reputation as a whole, a Rating Score™ that gives you a snapshot of your entire online reputation, and so much more! Become a Top Rated Local business today!

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!

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!

Resolutions for a Stronger Online Reputation in 2020

A New Year, a New Online Reputation for Your Business

The year that was 2019 has finally come to an end, and whether you’ll look back on the year with a smile or you’d rather not look back on it at all, there’s no denying that it had many lessons for us as far as online reputation management is concerned, which you can learn more about in yesterday’s blog — Five Important Online Reputation Management Lessons From 2019.

Good or bad, you can make the most of 2019 by taking the lessons you’ve learned and using them to change for the better, which is true of both your personal life and your business’ online reputation. And while we won’t presume to tell you to eat healthier or exercise more in 2020, we can give you a few New Year’s resolutions that can help you build the kind of online reputation for your business that you really want.

5 New Year’s Resolutions to Make Your Online Reputation Strong in 2020

#1. Claim your listings.

One of the most important things a business can do for their online reputation is to claim their listings across review sites and directories. These directories are pulled in by algorithms, and those algorithms don’t automatically update things, like your phone number or address, which can leave people unable to get ahold of you. When a client is trying to get ahold of you and ends up at your old location or on a call with the wrong number, it can seriously undermine their trust in your business. Claiming your listings is free and is an easy way to ensure that, no matter how a client finds you, they’re able to contact you when they need to.

Where should you get started? Why not start with Top Rated Local®? Claiming your profile with Top Rated Local means that you’ll have access to every verified review site your business is listed on from one convenient place, as well as your Rating Score™, which will give you an overall view of your business’ online reputation across the web. And don’t forget about the real-time review notifications and monthly updates that will give you an overview of your online reputation as a whole.

Claim your Top Rated Local profile today!

#2. Respond to your reviews.

If you haven’t already started making it a habit, 2020 is the time to start responding to as many of your reviews as you can, positive and negative, but especially the negative ones. Not only should you make it a point to respond, but you should make it a point to respond in a timely manner — that’s what your clients expect at least. This is also why becoming a Top Rated Local business is such a good idea; with real-time notifications, you’ll get an alert every time you get a new review, which will give you a chance to respond as soon as you’re able.

Responding to your reviews is so important because it gives you a chance to share your side of the story. Reviews are often only reflective of the client’s perspective, and while you should never make excuses in your response, it does sometimes help to resolve the situation when the client can see it through your eyes. That being said, you should always make it a point to apologize, not necessarily for your action but because of the fact that they had a bad experience. It’s also a good idea to invite the client to take the conversation offline by providing them with a phone number or email address they can reach you at.

The right review response can make all of the difference after a customer has had a negative experience. In fact, the customers that are won over after a negative experience are the ones that are often customers for life. Not only that, but the right review response can convince other readers online to choose your business as well.

#3. Say it with a video.

Search engine optimization (SEO), which is a huge part of reputation management, is all about content. In fact, in the world of SEO, the phrase, “Content is king,” is a favorite and oft-repeated line. This, of course, means writing blogs, social media posts and other forms of text-content, but today, “content” can and should mean a variety of media, which absolutely means video.

Video is an incredibly powerful thing in this day and age, and every business should make it a point to use it more often in their marketing efforts. Part of the reason why video is so important is that YouTube has actually become the second biggest search engine behind Google, and it’s the way that millions of Americans are discovering new brands and products every day.

There are so many great ways that you can harness the power of video for your business. When you’re writing a blog post for your business, you could accompany it with a video tutorial. When you’re creating a social media post about how awesome your team is, accompany it with a video of your annual awards celebration honoring them. When you’re creating a page on your website about your efforts to give back to your community, accompany it with a video of your team building a home for Habitat for Humanity or running a food drive. When you’re designing an ad for one of your services, accompany it with a video testimonial from one of your satisfied clients.

#4. Start earning more reviews.

People want to know that, when they find a business online, they can trust that they’re in good hands with them, and these days, the best way to do that is by reading the business’ reviews. When a client chooses to work with you, they’re taking a gamble, particularly if they find you online and don’t know a lot about you. When they can read about your other clients’ experiences with you, it helps to give them peace of mind. That being said, you can see how damaging it can be if you have a lot of negative reviews, or, worse, no reviews at all.

Reviews are essential, but they’re never going to just magically appear. Even businesses that wow their customers with next-level customer service often have trouble getting reviews; whereas, one slip-up can mean a one-star review. That’s because people remember and want to share negative experiences more than they remember positive ones. The key to a healthy online reputation is to encourage all of your customers (which hopefully means an overwhelming number of satisfied customers and only one-off dissatisfied customers) to leave reviews, and if you ask them to, most people will be happy to write one.

There are so many great ways to incentivize your customers to leave you reviews, but it’s important to tread carefully. Every review site has its own policies on what they deem acceptable, and we highly recommend reading them before proceeding. For the most part though, you’ll want to avoid bribing your customers to leave you specific star ratings or saying certain things about your business. You’ll also want to ensure that you ask every customer for feedback, not just the ones you think will leave you a good review.

Once you start building up more reviews for your business, there are a lot of great things you can do to share them. They don’t have to stay on review sites; you could display them on your website via the Top Rated Local badge; you could post them on social media; you could use them in videos or ads; you could even use them in physical displays in your brick and mortar location.

#5. Get help if you need it.

A business’ online reputation is more important than ever before, but managing that online reputation has also become a bigger job than ever job. Even with the help of awesome tools, like Top Rated Local and Google Alerts, managing your business’ online reputation can be a big job, especially when you consider the fact that it’s not even your first job. Whether you’re an accountant, dentist, plumber or roofing contractor, your first priority is your clients or patients, and sometimes, that can leave your business’ online reputation neglected and ignored.

Not only does it take time and energy to build an online reputation, but even if your business has a strong online reputation already, you’ll need to put a certain amount of time and effort into maintaining it. This can all be a lot of business owners who already have so much on their plates, and if this sounds like you, a better option than letting your online reputation fall by the wayside may be to get help from a reputation management professional.

Most small businesses don’t have the budget to pay someone a full salary plus benefits to manage their reputation in-house, and luckily, these days, you don’t have to. There are plenty of reputation management companies out there that could help you keep your reputation on the up and up. You’ll want to do some research to find the best option for you, but at the end of the day, the important part is that you recognize the importance of getting help when you need it.

Interested in working with an online reputation management specialist? Learn more today!

Take the first step toward a stronger online reputation in 2020 with Top Rated Local.

You don’t have to wait until 2020 to start building the kind of online reputation that will be the envy of your competition. Get started today by claiming your Top Rated Local listing. It’s free, easy and comes with a host of can’t-miss benefits. From all of us at Top Rated Local, have a happy new year!

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!

An Online Reputation Carol

Don’t be haunted by the ghosts of your business’ online reputation past, present or future.

An Online Reputation Carol: A Tale of the Ghosts of Online Reputation Past, Present and Future

This Christmas Eve, we’re embracing the iconic holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, and its connection to the plight of the modern-day business and its online reputation. Just as Ebenezer Scrooge was haunted and transformed by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, so too can the ghosts of online reputation haunt businesses today.

These days, a business’ online reputation is everything, and while you may not be able to change what happened in the past, it’s important that you know how to learn from it and grow from it, just as Ebenezer did in Charles Dickens’ cherished Christmas tale.

To celebrate the holidays, we’ve set out to help you use the ghosts of online reputation past, present and future to build and maintain the kind of online reputation you want.

Ghost of Online Reputation Past

The decisions you’ve made in the past that have affected your business’ online reputation cannot be undone — nor can they ever be — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth looking at. In life, we rarely learn and grow without making mistakes or going through challenges, so if you have a few, let’s call them dark spots, in your online reputation’s past, there may be more to learn from than you think, and it might not be too late to turn a negative situation into a growth opportunity. You don’t necessarily have to be haunted by the past, so to speak.

Here are a few things that might be spooking you in the past:

  • Negative reviews – We all make mistakes, and we all drop the ball from time to time. One of those very human times might lead to a negative review, which can hurt, especially when they’re true. Negative reviews can sometimes feel like a blight on an otherwise pristine online reputation, but the truth is that they don’t have to hurt so much. For one, they can surprisingly have a positive impact on your online reputation, because a lot of people simply don’t trust a perfect online reputation (people are always looking for the catch these days) and also because you can turn lemons into lemonade by how you respond.
  • Unclaimed listings – Whether you’ve signed up for profiles or not, your business is listed on review sites and directories, which prospective clients are using to learn about your business and to try to get ahold of you. Unclaimed listings with inaccurate information may have left clients with wrong phone numbers or outdated addresses, which does nothing to build trust in your business.
  • Burying your head in the sand – Your online reputation is there — shaping the way people look at your business and having a profound effect on your future success — and that’s true whether you actively manage it or not. If you sit on your hands and never claim your listings or respond to reviews, you’re leaving your fate up to chance. Trust us, your online reputation isn’t something you want to say, “Bah humbug!” about.
  • Sending the wrong message – What may have seemed like an innocent joke or a cutesy story can easily be taken the wrong way in this day and age. Think about the infamous Peleton commercial that has been ridiculed across social media for days. While the message of this video was that the wife who received the exercise bike was nervous about embarking on her fitness journey but eventually got stronger for it and was appreciative of it, but it came across, to many at least, as a caveman-type husband demanding that his already-slender wife lose a few more pounds. Suffice it to say, sending the wrong message can and does have unintended consequences.
  • Attacks from competitors – Not every negative review a business gets is legitimate. Unfortunately, some businesses decide to attack their competitors’ online reputations by leaving fake reviews, leaving ethical businesses feeling hopeless and unable to defend themselves in many cases.

Ghost of Online Reputation Present

A lot of us are so wrapped up in our own worlds that we forget that everyone out there has their own experiences. Scrooge had the unique gift of being able to observe the experiences of those around him, as a phantom or a fly on the wall, but businesses don’t get that luxury. Businesses rely on reviews, as well as other forms of feedback, to help them get an understanding of what it’s like to be in their customers’ shoes. And just as Scrooge learned about the importance of love, family and togetherness from his journey with the Ghost of Christmas Past, so can businesses learn from the feedback they get from their customers.

How to make the most of your brush with the Ghost of Online Reputation Present (Online Feedback)

  • Respond to it – Responding to reviews is a very important aspect of online reputation management. We’re all busy, and it can sometimes feel like pulling teeth to get people to take a few minutes out of their day to leave you a review, so when they do so, you should make sure to thank them for it! You should especially make it a point to respond to any negative feedback that you get. Responding allows you to tell your side of the story and demonstrate your customer service skills.
  • Own it – You should never brush aside or make excuses for feedback that you get from your clients. Even if you think the feedback might be unfair or unwarranted, it’s important that you own up to your part in it. People want to work with honest, transparent businesses that will treat them with respect. They also know that businesses are made up of people who make mistakes, and all they often want is for you to own up and apologize for it. Owning up to feedback will also help you gain more from it. You can learn a lot about how your business can get better by really analyzing the feedback you get from your clients.
  • Showcase it – If all of your reviews are negative, then the problem is much worse than just a mistake or two. Most businesses have as many, if not more, positive reviews than negative ones, but they can only do you so much good when they’re stuck on review sites. One of the best ways to make the most of your positive feedback is to showcase it. After all, it doesn’t always look great for a business to say that they’re the best, but when one of their clients say it, it means a whole lot more.

Ghost of Online Reputation Future

In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s final encounter is with the Ghost of Christmas future, a dark, hooded figure that shows him his near future if he stays on the path of cruelty and destruction that he’s on, which, of course, is death. Luckily, for most businesses, even common online reputation management mistakes don’t lead them down a road this dire, but bad reputations have tanked businesses before. And while we can’t scare you with the shocking reality of your future, we can help you safeguard against what may threaten it by teaching you a little bit about how to properly manage it.

How to escape death (the metaphorical death of your business due to an irreparable online reputation) and save Tiny Tim (your business’ sickly online reputation) from his fate.

  • Claim your listings – Establishing trust online is one of the most important things a business can do, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by simply claiming your listings. As we mentioned, it’s not uncommon for unclaimed listings to have incorrect information, and at the very least, claiming your listing ensures that, when people want to call you, they at least get the right phone number. But claiming your listings also gives you more control by allowing you to respond to reviews and even flag reviews that you believe are fake or from jealous competitors.
  • Keep your content fresh – A big part of maintaining your business’ online reputation has to do with SEO (search engine optimization), which affects what position your business is ranked in on Google, and a big part of SEO is fresh, original content being added on a regular basis. In addition to helping you rank higher, producing useful content for your clients helps to educate and empower them, help to build trust in your brand and help you to make connections with them.
  • Be proactive when it comes to reviews – A one-star review does affect a business with two or three five-star reviews as it does a business that has 40 or 50 five-star reviews. It’s all about your average, but the problem is that not a lot of people will write a review unprompted after a good experience. People have high expectations when it comes to service, and when you’re constantly used to good service, it’s hard to be overly impressed with great service. However, the same is not true for people who have had bad experiences; they are typically ready to vent about their experience online and get their frustration out. But there’s hope; the vast majority of people will write a review when asked, and as long as you’re providing great customer service, you can rest assured that those reviews will be positive.
  • Use your past mistakes to change your future – If you’ve had more than a few negative reviews in the past, don’t miss the opportunity to learn from them and use them to do better in the future. Getting bitter never helps anyone to get better, and while your first knee-jerk reaction may be to get defensive or frustrated, a string of negative feedback should be a wakeup call. It helps to remember that clients aren’t out to get you; they want to help you take better care of them and of your other clients.
  • Stay in the know – Reputation management is an ongoing thing, and when someone says something negative about your business in a review, responding quickly and professionally can help to diffuse the situation and prevent the fire from spreading. The best way to stay in the know is by claiming your listing on Top Rated Local®. Top Rated Local businesses get monthly email notifications with updates on their overall online reputation, real-time notifications when they get new reviews, a snapshot of their online reputation as a whole and so much more. Another great way to stay alert is by signing up for Google Alerts.

Become a Top Rated Local business today!

Stay in the know about your business’ online reputation and gain all of the benefits of becoming a Top Rated Local business. Best of all, like any good holiday gift, it’s free! Get started 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!