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!

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!

Reputation Management Tips for Veterinary Clinics

Effective online reputation management is something every veterinary clinic needs to master.

Veterinary clinics, like every other business, can’t rely on word of mouth like they used to. That’s because, these days, people are less likely to ask a friend, co-worker, or family member for a recommendation than they are to simply google, “veterinary clinic near me.”

With the right online reputation management strategy, not only will you have the best chance of showing up for those “near me” searches in your area, but you’ll also have a lot more control over what people find when they look for your business online.

Knowing how to implement an effective online reputation management strategy is a skill that every local business needs these days, and veterinary clinics are no exception.

4 Key Reputation Management Tips for Veterinary Clinics

#1. Claim your listings on review sites and directories.

Whether or not you’ve taken the time to sign your business up to be on a review site or an online directory is irrelevant – chances are, your veterinary clinic is already listed. These kinds of sites pull their listings in with algorithms, which means that, whatever information was available at the time the algorithm pulled the listing, is the only information that the website in question will have.

What does this mean for you? It means that if you’ve ever moved to a new facility, changed your phone number, or updated your email address, the people who find you on that listing probably won’t be able to get ahold of you. This may leave them with the impression that your business is no longer operational for some reason or, possibly, that you’re just too lazy to keep your contact information updated — either way, it’s a lost patient for your veterinary clinic.

That’s why it’s important to claim your listings and keep them current. Not only will this ensure that people will be able to connect with your business regardless of how they find you online, but when your contact information is consistent across the web, it can help to improve your website’s ranking in the SERP (search engine results pages).

#2. Ask for reviews.

Most veterinary clinics claim to be committed to patient care and treating pets like family, so what sets a veterinary clinic apart from the many others that show up in the SERP when someone googles “veterinary clinic near me?” There are many possible answers to this question, but most people will choose a local veterinary clinic over the others because of its reviews.

Reviews play a vital role in the decision-making process when people are searching online for any local business. As informative as a veterinary clinic’s website can be, it can feel like a gamble to entrust your pet to a clinic you don’t have personal knowledge of. Reading a clinic’s reviews helps to ease some of that doubt.

This, of course, means that you have to have reviews to read in the first place. If you don’t, it can give the impression of inexperience. At the very least, it doesn’t give the consumer any peace of mind about working with you, because they don’t have any real idea of what their experience will be like. Luckily, it’s easy to generate reviews. In fact, the best way to get them is to simply ask.

#3. Respond to reviews — and do so promptly.

While it’s true that most people will write a review for you when asked, it’s also true that most people won’t write one on their own — even if you provide a next-level experience for them. Let’s face it, most of us lead stressful, busy lives, and we just don’t think about it. So, when someone does take the time out of their schedule to write a review for your business, it’s important to show them that you’re listening to their feedback by responding to it (and make sure you do so promptly!).

Respond to every review but, in particular, respond to the negative ones. Negative reviews can hurt a veterinary clinic’s online reputation, but you can mitigate the damage in the kind of response you leave.

When responding to a negative review, always apologize for their negative experience with your clinic, even if you think the review is unfair or inaccurate. If their feedback is valuable and you can use it to make a change within your clinic, let them know! Always give them a chance to talk with you directly about the situation, by inviting them to call or email you. This will prevent a public argument that will only make you look petty, and it will tell the reviewer, and anyone reading the exchange, that you value any feedback.

#4. Monitor your online reputation.

People not only expect a response to their reviews; they expect a prompt response, which means that you need to know when someone leaves you a review. That’s partially why it’s so important to closely monitor your online reputation on a consistent basis. It’s also just as important to know what people are saying about your business online and what people find when they look for you online.

You could monitor your online reputation by logging into each individual review site one at a time, or you could simply sign up/claim your Top Rated Local® listing! Top Rated local offers numerous ways to stay on top of your online reputation.

Top Rated Local businesses enjoy a plethora of monitoring benefits, including real-time notifications when they get reviews, monthly reports on their overall online reputation, and a Rating Score™, which gives them a score out of 100 based on their reputation across every verified review site they’re rated on.

Start monitoring your veterinary clinic’s online reputation by signing up/claiming your listing online today!

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!

The Basics of Online Reputation Management for HVAC Companies

HVAC companies depend on having a solid online reputation.

In this day and age, HVAC companies can’t depend on word of mouth as much as they used to. While word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising today, it’s also not something people seek out like they did back in the day.

It used to be that, when someone needed air conditioning repair or furnace replacement, they’d ask for referrals from their friends and family. Now, most of those people will simply turn to Google or the search engine of their choice to find the right HVAC company to work with.

Chances are, you’re already well aware of how much competition your business has online. There’s no shortage of companies people could turn to for their heating and cooling needs, and the only thing that separates your business from the pack among all of those listings is your online reputation.

While it’s true that aspects of your online reputation are out of your hands, you’ll be glad to know that there are a lot of things you can do to influence and build on that reputation.

Online Reputation Basics for HVAC Companies

Claim your listings.

The first step you should take when building your online reputation is to claim your many business listings across review sites and directories. There’s a strong possibility that, whether you know it or not, your business is already listed on many of these sites, and if you don’t take the time to claim those listings, there may be inaccurate or outdated information about your business out there.

When you take the time to claim your listings and update your business’ information, you can create a more cohesive brand across the web. You can also ensure that, whether someone finds your business on Facebook, Google, or Yelp, they’ll always be calling an active number or visiting your current address. This helps to establish trust, which could easily be undermined if someone ends up calling a number that’s no longer active or travels all the way out to your old, now-abandoned location.

Provide great service.

Not every aspect of online reputation management happens online. In fact, a strong online reputation starts with providing great service to the people you serve each and every day. After all, your online reputation is just a reflection of your service, and If you don’t provide great service in-person, how can you expect to have a good online reputation?

People expect at least decent customer service, and while they may not always jump at the chance to write a review for your business based on good customer service alone, you can bet that, if they’re upset, they’ll tell the world about it. People can be reluctant to share a positive experience, but that reluctance evaporates in a negative experience. When people feel they have been wronged, they typically want to shout it from the rooftops.

Focusing on providing great service is something you should be doing anyway, but it’s also a key part of online reputation management. And while it may not generate a whole lot of five-star reviews, it can go a long way toward helping you avoid one-star reviews.

Start asking for reviews.

Reviews are the bread and butter of your business’ online reputation, and there’s never such a thing as too many of them. People like to read about other people’s experiences, and many of them use reviews when determining which local companies to work with. So if the decision comes down between an HVAC company with a handful of reviews and an HVAC company with thousands of reviews, it’s easy to tell which option people are likely to choose.

There are a lot of dos and don’ts when it comes to generating reviews for your business online, and the first place you’ll want to start is by looking at the rules of various review platforms. But in general, you’ll want to avoid bribing people to write reviews, trying to influence how many stars people give you or what they say about you in reviews, or only asking specific clients for reviews. As long as you’re following these rules, most review sites are perfectly fine with you asking clients for reviews, which is a good thing since it’s also the most straightforward way to actually get them.

Respond to your reviews, negative and positive.

While it’s true that most people will write reviews if you ask them, in time, you’ll come to really appreciate the people who take the time to write reviews for you. Although you may not see the problem in taking five minutes to write a few sentences about your business online, you have no idea how busy a client’s schedule is or what’s going on in their life. The fact that they took the time to give you feedback online means something, and whether that feedback is positive or negative, it’s important that you respond to it.

Not only does responding to your reviews demonstrate how thankful you are that your client took the time to write them for you in the first place, but it gives you a chance to show the world how dedicated you are to great service.

It’s not always easy to get negative feedback, especially in such a public way, like with a negative review, but if you really listen and learn from that feedback, you can use it to make your business better and make your clients happier. The right response to a negative review should always include thanks for the feedback, an apology for the bad experience (even if it wasn’t your fault), a commitment to making the situation right, and a gameplan for how you’ll use that feedback to get better. This kind of response could not only win back the dissatisfied customer but could convince anyone else reading it to choose your business over the competition.

These are all great first steps toward building and maintaining a solid online reputation for any HVAC company, but truly effective online reputation management is an ongoing thing, and one of the best weapons you have in your arsenal is Top Rated Local®. Claim your Top Rated Local listing today!

A Roofer’s Guide to Reputation Management

Every roofing company needs a solid online reputation management strategy.

The fact of the matter is that it can be difficult for a roofing company to acquire new clients. After all, it’s not like anyone needs a new roof on a monthly basis or even needs roofing repairs or maintenance that often. Roofing companies are unique in how seldom clients need their services, which means that, when someone is searching for a roofer online, you absolutely want your business to show up.

Making sure that your roofing business is visible is just the first step though. There are a ton of different roofing companies consumers could choose from, and they need a reason to choose your business over the many others out there. And they’ll find that reason in your business’ online reputation.

Reputation Management Tips for Roofers

#1. Claim your listings.

First and foremost, a roofing company absolutely must claim ALL of its business listings online. It’s not enough to just claim your Google My Business listing. You want all of your information to be accurate across the web so that, no matter how someone finds you, they’ll always have the right contact information to get a hold of you.

Ensuring that your contact information is accurate will help to establish trust with consumers and make your listing more legitimate in their eyes. If someone finds your listing on a directory or a review site and ends up calling a number that is no longer in service or visiting an old location, they’re going to think that your business is either invalid or has gone out of business — either way, it doesn’t bode well for your business.

Another big reason why consistency across business listings is important is that Google looks at consistency when determining whether a business is valid or not. If there are multiple addresses and phone numbers across Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, and other listings and directories, Google isn’t going to rank your business as high because it appears less legitimate.

Finally, when you claim your business listings online, it gives you more control over them. In addition to giving you the ability to update your contact information, you’ll also be able to update and optimize your business description, add photos, and even respond to reviews.

#2. Earn more reviews.

Reviews are the number one thing consumers will look at when determining whether or not they want to work with a roofing company. Let’s face it, there’s a lot at stake when hiring a roofer. It’s not like going to a nail salon or finding a jewelry store — the roof is the number one thing that stands between you and the elements, and you want to be able to trust the company you’ve hired to take care of it.

If your business doesn’t have a solid average star rating — or worse, if you don’t have any reviews at all — it doesn’t bode well for your chances of attracting new clients online. It also means that you should start working on generating more reviews for your business.

Although you should never bribe your clients for reviews or presume to tell them what kind of a review they should leave you, simply asking for reviews is perfectly acceptable, and it’s also a super-effective way to generate more of them. While many people won’t write reviews on their own, believe it or not, the vast majority of people will write a review if you just ask.

#3. Generate content.

A big part of online reputation management is controlling what consumers see when they find your business online. When someone searches for your business name, ideally, your website should be the first thing that pops up, along with your listings on directories and reviews sites and your social media pages. What you don’t want to pop up is bad press about your business, and that’s where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in handy.

By optimizing your website, business listings, and social media profiles, you can ensure that consumers will find what you want them to when they search for your business online. And although SEO can get pretty complicated if you let it, the most basic and powerful strategy you can have is to simply publish content consistently online.

As a roofer, you have a lot of valuable knowledge to share with consumers. Your average Joe Blow won’t understand why a metal roof may be a better option for their needs than an asphalt shingle roof, or how important regular maintenance is for the longevity of your roof. This is the perfect kind of content to publish on your website and social media pages.

#4. Respond to reviews.

Generating more reviews is a great step in the right direction toward maintaining your business’ online reputation, but your job isn’t done yet — you also need to respond to those reviews. And that’s true of all reviews, whether they’re one-star, five-star, or somewhere in the middle; however, you especially want to make it a point to respond to any negative reviews you get.

When you respond to negative reviews, it gives you a chance to share your side of the story with not only the person who left the review but with anyone who may happen to read it. Unhappy clients often don’t understand why something happened the way that it did, and by simply explaining your side of the story, you might be able to effectively defuse the situation.

It’s important, though, that you always take ownership of the situation, even if you feel that it’s not your fault. This doesn’t mean that you have to claim responsibility, but you should at least apologize that their experience with your business wasn’t what they expected or wanted. You should never argue with a reviewer or insult them, and if necessary, give yourself a little time to cool off if you’re upset before responding to a negative review.

One of the best things you can do when responding to a negative review is to invite the reviewer to discuss the matter offline. This will save you from having to argue or set the record straight with a client on such a public forum, and it shows other people that you’re willing to work to correct a bad situation.

#5. Sign up for Google Alerts.

When it comes to your business’ online reputation, you can’t effectively manage it if you set it and forget it. A good online reputation management strategy means ongoing, real-time management, which means that you have to be in the know what people are saying about your business online.

One of the best ways to stay on top of what people are saying about your business online is to sign up for Google Alerts. Google Alerts are totally free, and you can use them to monitor all kinds of things, including brand mentions. You can even use Google Alerts to monitor what people are saying about your competition online, giving you a much needed leg up.

Become a Top Rated Local® roofing company!

There are a lot of things that go into building and maintaining a strong online reputation, and it can all seem overwhelming when you already have so much going on. Luckily, it’s easy to get started — sign up or claim your Top Rated Local listing.

Becoming a Top Rated Local business means that you’ll get real-time notifications when you get new reviews, the ability to reply to your reviews, monthly breakdown of your online reputation overall and so much more. Get started today!

How to Create More Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is a must for any business.

The simple fact of the matter is that It doesn’t matter how awesome your products or services are if no one knows you’re there.

Despite the many corporations, online stores and big-box stores out there, local businesses are having a heyday at the moment, and it’s, in large part, thanks to the many ‘shop local’ campaigns out there highlighting the benefits of supporting local businesses.

Although everyone loves the convenience and great prices they find when they shop online or turn to a big-box store, people understand why it’s important to support local businesses, and many of them are passionate about doing so. However, in order to reap the benefits, local businesses need to be able to build awareness in their brand.

5 Tips for Increasing Brand Awareness for Local Businesses

#1. Claim/optimize your Google My Business listing.

Whether someone is looking to support a local business or not, the first place they’ll likely look for the good or service they need is online. That search often starts on Google, which is why it’s so essential that your business can be easily found.

Did you know that 46 percent of all Google searches are people looking for local information and that 97 percent of search engine users have looked online for local businesses? The best way to ensure that not only people can find you but that they find accurate information when they do is to claim/optimize your Google My Business listing.

Although your Google My Business listing is probably the most important one to claim and optimize, Google isn’t the online place people go to find businesses online. It’s essential that, no matter how your customers find you — be it Facebook, Yelp, or Top Rated Local® — they find accurate information, which means that claiming and optimizing all of your listings is key to brand awareness for any local business.

#2. Give back.

For local businesses, community is everything. Your community is what supports you through thick and thin, and when you make it a point to give back to your community, it can do great things for your brand.

Local businesses benefit from getting their name out there as much as possible, and there are plenty of awesome ways to spread the word about who they are, what they do, and what they have to offer while also giving back to the community that supports them. Here are a few ideas to run with:

  • Volunteer – Give your team a day off of work at a soup kitchen or build a house with Habitat for Humanity. Or, better yet, volunteer your services to people in your community who need them.
  • Donate a percent of your profits – Nonprofits and charitable organizations always need financial support, and one awesome way to provide that support is to donate a percentage of your profits for a specific service or product. Not only will you be giving back, but you’ll be incentivizing people in your community to take advantage of your products or services.
  • Sponsor an event – Whether it’s the 40 under 40 awards or a marathon, there are plenty of local events that your business could sponsor.

#3. Brand your vehicles.

Service-based businesses, like plumbers, roofers, and home contractors, travel around town from one job to the next on a regular basis. Getting your name out in the community is easily done when you’re out and about with branded vehicles.

If your work vehicles aren’t branded, you’re missing out on a plethora of great opportunities to get your name out there. The more people see your brand, the more familiar they will be with it and the more they will start to trust it.

Of course, you may get a call or two because of your branded vehicles, but this strategy is more about building familiarity and trust in your brand than it is about attracting customers in the moment. Not every person who sees your branded vehicle will want or need your services, but the repeated exposure to your brand will help to keep it at the top of their minds when they do need your help.

#4. Give out swag.

One of the best ways to get your name out there is to give out branded swag, like pens, t-shirts, notepads and even reusable grocery bags, to both your employees and customers. This is a fantastic option because it gives you a chance to give something to the people who support your business most while reminding them that you’re there and spreading the word about your business.

When determining what kind of swag to invest in, it’s best to consider what your clients will get the most use out of, as well as what swag will offer the most visibility for your brand. This is one of the reasons why reusable grocery bags are a great idea.

People use those bags for everything, and every time they do, they’ll see your brand and be reminded of who you are. They also offer a lot of visibility for your brand because a lot of other people will see them, from the person who bags the groceries to the people walking by in the parking lot.

Pens are another great choice because they are so mobile and functional. People always need a pen, and they often misplace them or lend them out, which means even more visibility for your brand.

#5. Get help from local influencers.

When most people hear the term “influencer,” they think of social media influencers with thousands of Instagram followers. However, this same idea can be translated to local communities with similar — and sometimes even better — results. Local influencers in your community are simply people who affect the choices of others, and you can use their help to gain more awareness for your brand.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that you own a local store that offers fitness gear or vitamins and supplements. With the help of Molly, a local yoga instructor who teaches several classes around town and has a large following on social media, you could spread the word about your brand far and wide.

In order to gain the help of local influencers, you’ll need to give them a reason to use your brand — and a reason to get excited about your brand. One of the best ways to do this is by offering discounts or free samples.

Start creating more awareness in your brand by becoming a Top Rated Local Business.

Take the first step toward the kind of awareness you want for your local brand with Top Rated Local. Signing up/claiming your listing is free, easy and will only take a few minutes, and it will give you the opportunity to respond to reviews, provide you with real-time notifications of reviews, and so much more.

Sign/claim your listing today!