The Advantages of Using Top Rated Local® for Businesses

Find a better way to manage your business’s online reputation with Top Rated Local®.

Top Rated Local® is not your average review site

A business’s online reputation is everything these days. That’s because consumers regularly do research online when they’re looking for a specific product or service, and as Millennials and Generation Z start becoming a bigger and bigger slice of the consumer population, more and more people will rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions.

Reviews are a huge part of your business’s overall online reputation. Not only do they say a lot about your business, but they affect where your website ranks in search results. Reviews can make your website more visible, and that means that the success of your business relies heavily on your ability to generate reviews and manage them, and that’s where Top Rated Local comes in.

We’re proud to say that Top Rated Local is not your typical review site. Top Rated Local is built on the five pillars of the customer experience, and it was created to empower consumers and businesses alike by capturing a business’s overall experience in a way that’s unlike anything else you’ll find out there. And today, we’re going to go over the advantages of using Top Rated Local for both consumers and businesses.

Five advantages of using Top Rated Local for businesses

#1. Get a good idea of your business’s overall reputation

There are numerous review platforms out there, from Angie’s List and Yelp to Google and even Facebook. Having a profile — and actively monitoring it — on each of these platforms is essential to maintaining a strong overall online reputation, but it can be a lot of work to constantly check up on each one of these platforms to find out if you have a new review to respond to and to figure out where your business stands.

If only there was a way to get a good idea of your business’s overall reputation without having to check a dozen different websites. Luckily, with Top Rated Local, there is!

One of the biggest benefits of using Top Rated Local is that your Rating Score™ captures the overall customer experience — not just your ratings on Top Rated Local.

Your business’ Rating Score is determined by aggregating all of the reviews on verified review sites. From there, a proprietary algorithm analyzes your business’s overall rating based on the number of reviews you have, the number of verified sites your business is listed on, the average rating of your reviews and more.

#2. You don’t have to pay to play

A lot of review sites out there are free to get signed up on but offer paid plans in exchange for higher placement in their search results. So, for example, if a consumer is searching for a plumber on one of these sites, they aren’t necessarily getting results based on a company’s reviews or online reputation. Instead, they’re getting results based on how much a company is willing to pay.

Running a small business these days can be tough, and making a small business successful and profitable can be even more difficult. This can make it difficult for small businesses to compete with bigger, more profitable companies on these pay-to-play review sites.

Top Rated Local does offer a variety of different plans, starting with a free option, but signing up for a paid account does not mean that your business will show up at the top of the search results (though there are a number of incredible benefits).

The order in which businesses are presented in the search results on Top Rated Local is based on their Rating Score — not on how much money a business is spending with Top Rated Local. That gives small businesses an even playing field to compete in, and it ensures that consumers are getting suggestions based on a business’s reputation instead of how much money they are willing to spend.

#3. Get notified when you receive reviews

Responding to your reviews is absolutely essential to the success of your business, and that’s true regardless of whether the review in question is positive or negative. Responding to reviews demonstrates to both your existing customers and potential customers that, if they take the time to write a review for you, you care enough to take the time to respond to it and to address any concerns that they brought up. And when it comes to negative or one-star reviews, responding to your reviews will allow you to share your side of the story.

Even if you get occasional reviews that are fake or written by one of your competitors hoping to undermine your success, crafting a response can help to make things right. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get a review deleted — even if you can prove that it’s fake — and responding is often your only course of action to let the world know that the review isn’t authentic.

In addition to making sure that you respond to every review, you should make it a point to do so promptly. In fact, most consumers expect you to respond within a reasonable timeframe — 72 to hours or so.

Plus, if you respond to a review fast enough, your chances of a customer changing a one-star review to a three- or four-star review are greatly increased. That’s right, responding quickly enough may even eliminate an unsightly one-star review that could hurt or diminish your business’s online reputation!

#4. Display the Top Rated Local trust badge on your website

These days, trust is everything, and it’s imperative to earn the trust of consumers if you want your business to be a success.

When someone comes across your business online, the only thing they have to help them determine how much to trust you is your word — and your business’s reviews! — and you need to give people a good reason to choose you rather than turning to the next business on the list.

When you sign up to become a Top Rated Local business, you’ll have the ability to display the Top Rated Local trust badge on your website and any other marketing assets you wish. When people see that Top Rated Local badge, it helps to build trust and gives them a reason to choose your business over your competition.

#5. Embed reviews on your website

As mentioned, establishing trust right away is a huge part of any business’s success in this day and age, and customer reviews are a huge part of that. Let’s face it, every window cleaner, plumber, home contractor and electrician out there claims to be the best at what they do. They all claim to have experience, value integrity and put their customers first, but the reality is that not all of these businesses can be the best, and not all of them can be trusted.

What a company says about itself is important, but it doesn’t compare to what a company’s customers say about it. When your customers go on and on about how great it is to work with your company, it says a lot and helps to give potential customers more confidence in working with you.

Displaying reviews on your website is a great way to add trust and give people a reason to work with you, and when you become a Top Rated Local business, displaying those reviews is easier than ever. With Top Rated Local, you can add a widget to your website that will display your reviews directly on your site. That means that consumers don’t have to go look for your Yelp or see what customers are saying on Facebook. All they have to do is go to your website, and they can see your reviews!

Enjoy the benefits of utilizing a different kind of review platform.

Reputation management should be a focus of every business, and that’s true regardless of what size your business is or what industry you work in. Luckily, with the help of Top Rated Local and Marketing 360®’s reputation management software, you’ll have everything you need to maintain your business.

Originally published 10/13/19

The Dos and Don’ts of Generating Reviews

There’s a right way and a wrong way to get reviews

Businesses need reviews in this day and age, and that’s true regardless of the industry they are in, how long they’ve been around or the level of service they provide. Unfortunately, though, most people still don’t write reviews on their own, even as up to 90% of consumers religiously read them when making purchasing decisions. However, the vast majority of consumers will write a review when asked.

Buying reviews is shady, can ruin your online reputation and could be potentially illegal, resulting in huge fines and even the risk that your business’s listing might be taken down completely.

When you take a few minutes to read the guidelines on major review sites, like Google and Yelp, you’ll quickly find that asking for reviews is definitely a grey area, and if you’re not careful, you could incur the same kinds of risks as you would by buying reviews. It’s for that reason that every single business owner understands the dos and don’ts of generating reviews.

The dos and don’ts of generating reviews

DO create and claim your business listings

There’s a reason why so many people don’t write reviews on their own, even if they were completely satisfied with their experience — it’s inconvenient! Life is busy for many of us, and the idea of taking time out of our busy schedules to write a thoughtful review can just seem too prohibitive. And when you’re asking the customer to sign up for an account or to create a profile on a review site in addition to writing a review, it makes the process even more time-consuming and inconvenient. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to create and claim your business listings on multiple review sites.

In addition to making it easier for your customers to leave a review for you on their preferred site, claiming your creating and claiming your business listings will also help you to ensure that your information is accurate and up to date on every site your business is listed on. On most review sites, claiming your listing also gives you the ability to respond to reviewers on different platforms.

Are you ready to start creating and claiming your business listings? Start with Top Rated Local — it’s free!

DON’T pay for fake reviews

Getting reviews naturally can be difficult, and since most business owners understand how important those reviews can be, many of them have resorted to simply buying reviews. Buying reviews is certainly easier than trying to earn them naturally, but it’s a big no-no, and it can do a lot more damage to your business’s online reputation and overall well-being than you might think.

The risks that you take when buying reviews include losing the trust of your customers, getting fined by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), getting your site taken out of the SERP (search engine results pages) altogether and missing out on valuable feedback that you could use to make your business better.

If you’d like to learn more about how buying reviews can be damaging for your business, check out our previous blog — Why Buying Reviews is a Bad Idea.

DO ensure that your customers know how important reviews are for your business

As we mentioned, asking for reviews is a grey area, and on some review sites, like Yelp, it’s more than a little frowned upon. However, asking for reviews is also the number one most effective way to actually get them, so where does that leave us?

There are ways to ask for reviews without actually asking for them. You don’t have to come right out and say, “Please write a five-star review for us on Google,” to get the point across that you’d like a review. A better way to do so is by making sure that your customers know how much you value their feedback and how important reviews are for your business’s future success.

DON’T bribe your customers in exchange for reviews

Incentivizing reviews is another easy way for businesses to generate more reviews, but much like outright asking for reviews, there’s a fine line between incentivizing reviews and bribing your customers to write reviews, which is certainly against the guidelines of many review sites. In fact, some review sites treat incentivizing reviews the same way they treat outright buying fake reviews, and you’ll risk the same kinds of penalties.

You should never offer your customers discounts, special offers or free products in exchange for five-star reviews. However, a less-shady way to accomplish the same goal is to enter clients who give you feedback — good or bad — into a drawing.

DO ask that your customers convert their feedback into reviews

Your customers give you feedback all of the time and in many different forms. Sometimes, they’ll tell you in person about their experience. Sometimes, your customers will email you about their experience. Sometimes, your customers will tell you about their experience over the phone. It’s important to note that, while this kind of offline feedback is a valuable tool for helping you make your business better, it doesn’t do much for your business’s online reputation.

When you get feedback offline, it doesn’t hurt for you to ask your customer to turn it into an online review, particularly if you’re not trying to pressure the customer into giving you a specific star rating or writing specific things about your business. Here’s an example of how to ask your customer to convert their feedback into an online review:

“Thank you so much for the valuable feedback! We value it so much and would really appreciate it if you could leave it for us online so that you could help other customers make the right decisions for their needs.”

DON’T write your own reviews

Like paying someone else to write reviews or bribing your customers to write them, writing your own reviews can seem like an innocent way to quickly generate reviews, but it’s definitely a black-hat tactic that is against the guidelines of every major review site. Writing your own reviews make your business vulnerable to the potential penalties — which, to recap, includes fees, the possibility that your listing could be taken down and the loss of trust with your audience.

Fake reviews are easier to spot than you might think, and if you aren’t planning to go to the trouble of creating a fake profile on Yelp or Google, it’ll be all too easy for your clients to determine that you — the business owner, CEO, manager, etc. — are writing those reviews, which will cause them to lose trust in your brand and possibly even ditch you for your competition.

DO make great customer service your number one priority

Encouraging your customers to write reviews is great, but as you can see, the line between what’s acceptable and what’s not can be blurred easily, particularly since review sites often have differing guidelines. However, there’s one surefire way to generate more reviews that every review site finds acceptable and that you never have to worry about breaking guidelines or rules — and that’s to make providing next-level customer service your number one priority.

Every time you interact with a customer, think about how they are seeing your business and how they might represent the interaction online. And while it’s true that most people won’t automatically write reviews on their own unless they are unhappy with their experience, that doesn’t mean that great service never encourages people to write reviews. In fact, here at Top Rated Local, we see reviews all of the time that start with something along the lines of:

“I never write reviews, but I got such great service that I knew that had to…”

DON’T make getting reviews a competition for your team

Your employees are the face of your company. As the owner, CEO or manager of your business, you’re often too busy with everything else to have face-to-face interactions with every single customer, but your team, on the other hand, does have those personal interactions with your clients. And because of that fact, it’s absolutely essential that your customers know why getting reviews is important.

This doesn’t mean that you should try to get more reviews by creating a competition among your team to get reviews. If a bonus or another reward is on the line, it might encourage your team to use black-hat tactics in order to generate more reviews, and they could end up getting your business in trouble.


Start generating reviews the right way with Top Rated Local today!

Navigating the ins and outs of the different guidelines on review sites can be tricky, and what’s acceptable on one review site may not be acceptable on another. However, there are a lot of dos and don’ts that aren’t negotiable, and we hope that this article has helped to clear them up just a little bit.

Generating reviews is an essential part of online reputation management, but it’s only one step in the process. With Marketing 360®’s reputation management software, you’ll have everything you need to be able to manage your business’ online reputation like a pro, including real-time notifications when you get reviews, the ability to reply to your reviews, a more frequently updated Rating Score™ that will give you a snapshot of your overall online reputation, a Top Rated Local badge of your own so that you can display reviews on your website and the ability to verify your reviews and eliminate fake reviews. And unlike many other review sites, businesses don’t “pay to play” on Top Rated Local.

With Marketing 360 Reputation, you can take your business’s online reputation into your own hands effectively and professionally. See our plans and pricing to get started.

Originally published 10/11/19

What Makes People Write Reviews

Understanding why people write reviews is the first step towards getting more reviews for your business.

People write reviews for all kinds of reasons

Every business needs reviews, and it’s not acceptable just to have one or two — you need as many as you can get. But, it’s also not enough to have hundreds of reviews if none of them are recent.

A five-star review holds a lot of weight, but that weight becomes diminished the older the review is. Many consumers don’t even look at the reviews that are more than a few months old, because they no longer see those reviews as relevant.

Your business’s online reputation can make or break your success both online and offline, and it depends on your ability to get multiple positive reviews on a regular basis.

In order to do that, you need to have a good understanding of why people leave reviews in the first place. When you understand people’s motivations for writing reviews, you can fine-tune your strategy for getting lots of reviews

Seven reasons people write reviews

#1. To help other consumers

A lot of people write reviews because they genuinely want to share their experiences with other consumers when making purchasing decisions.

Whether that experience is positive or negative, these reviewers want to be able to guide other people to make, what they see as, the right decisions.

You can generally spot these types of reviewers by looking for more detailed, story-driven reviews.

If someone really and truly is motivated by helping other people make better buying decisions, they’ll probably give the entire 411 about their experience — sometimes right down to the name of the person who helped them and the time of day they were helped.

#2. To have their opinions heard

These days, it’s not always easy to get noticed or feel heard. There are so many people out there with opinions, thoughts and feelings, and if social media is any indication, people want to express themselves!

It can be difficult to break through the noise under normal circumstances, and one of the best ways to ensure that people are actually heard is to speak directly to a business via reviews.

When someone writes a review, they’re not another anonymous person complaining to customer service, and they don’t have to rely on a tech or customer service rep to relay their message to management.

Reviews allow people to communicate directly to the business in a way that ensures that they will be listened to and can’t be ignored.

#3. To be a part of the group

People find camaraderie in all kinds of places. You see it in fandoms all over the internet.

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a midnight showing of a movie or at your local comic con, then you know what we mean.

People love to connect with other like-minded people, but that doesn’t stop with dressing up as their favorite superhero or writing fan fiction.

Reviews are a great way to make a connection with other people who share your likes and dislikes.

You see this most often in reviews for movies, television shows and books, but some businesses invoke the same kind of response in their customers, particularly businesses that have a strong brand or offer unique products or services.

#4. To vent about a bad experience

One of the most common reasons anyone writes a review is in response to what they perceive as a bad situation.

Maybe they had to wait longer than they expected. Maybe the person who helped them was late or didn’t provide them with the level of service that fit their expectations. Or, maybe they simply don’t accept that mistakes happen.

Whatever the situation, people are more likely to spread the word after a bad experience than a good one.

Perception is reality, and even if you’ve done everything in your power to provide the best possible customer service and meet all of their needs, sometimes, you just don’t live up to expectations.

Unfortunately, people are more likely to write a review when they’re upset than when they’re happy,

#5. To give feedback about products or services

Some people genuinely want to help businesses get better!

There’s no such thing as a perfect product or service, but businesses often don’t see the flaws in what they’re offering because they only see one side of the equation.

You can’t possibly know about every potential flaw or downside of your product or service unless you are the ones using it on a regular basis. That’s why insight from your customers is very valuable!

These kinds of reviews are incredible because they give you the ability to make changes to your products or services that can help you attract more future customers, make your current customers happier and keep them coming back for more.

#6. To say thank you for a job well done

Going above and beyond in order to provide the best possible service for your customers is a surefire way to get great reviews for your business.

Let’s face it, these days, customer service can be lackluster, and a lot of people are simply accustomed to service that’s less-than-ideal.

One of the best ways to actually make an impact on your customers is to provide the kind of service they can’t ignore and that they’ll want to shout about from the rooftops.

These kinds of reviews are some of the best any business can hope for.

When prospective customers read them, they’ll be able to tell exactly how hard you work to please your customers, and about how much your customers appreciate that hard work.

#7. Because they were asked to!

There are many reasons why people write reviews on their own, as we’ve discussed in the points so far, but unfortunately, the vast majority of people don’t write reviews by themselves, at least not at this point in time.

And, as I mentioned, people are more inclined to write a review without being prompted after a negative experience than a positive one.

More and more people are writing reviews on their own, but until the day comes when it becomes second nature to consumers, your best course of action is simply to ask!

Very few people will write a review unprompted, but when asked, 70% of consumers will write a review!

Asking for reviews is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you actually get them, and no, you don’t have to bribe people with discounts or gift cards.

All you have to do is let them know how much a review will mean to you and request that they write one for you.


Every business needs reviews!

Understanding what motivates people to leave reviews will help you gain more for your business, which will help you build the kind of online reputation you want.

However, gaining more reviews is just the first step in the process of building and maintaining a solid online reputation for your business. Learn how to build and manage your reputation like a pro with the Marketing 360® Reputation app. See our plans and pricing.

Originally published 9/21/19

How to Nail Online Reputation For Your Nail Salon

Your online reputation says a lot about your nail salon

Word of mouth is still a powerful form of advertising, but these days, it’s being replaced by online reviews more and more. Let’s face it. Instead of asking friends and family for recommendations on where to get their nails done, most people will simply do a quick Google search.

Making sure that your business stands out online is a huge part of separating yourself from your competition, and that means that you need to learn how to nail your nail salon’s online reputation.

Managing your business’s online reputation will take time, energy and consistent effort on your part. And even then, it’s not always easy to manage, especially if it’s new territory for you. Luckily, though, with a little know-how, getting your nail salon’s online reputation right can be much simpler.

Tips to help you nail your nail salon’s online reputation

#1. Claim your listings

You don’t necessarily have to pay to get your nail salon listed on a variety of review sites. In fact, it probably already is! And the first step of managing your salon’s online reputation should consist of determining where your business is already listed, claiming your salon’s existing listing and signing up for as many relevant review sites as you can.

Why is it important to claim your listing?
  • Simply having your business exist on multiple review sites is a great start, but your job is far from done — you also need to claim your listing. Often, when a listing is left unclaimed on review sites, the information that’s available may be outdated, incorrect or, in some cases, missing altogether. So whether the listing still has your old address or it’s missing your phone number, claiming it will allow you to update the information. You could also add photos and other media to make your listing stand out more.
  • Additionally, claiming your business makes it easier for prospective clients to find your business on a variety of different review platforms, and in most cases, it gives you the ability to actually respond to the reviews your business gets on the platform.

#2. Let your customers know where your salon is listed

Now that your business is listed and your listing is claimed on a variety of review sites, it’s time to start generating more reviews for your salon. The more reviews you have, the better, and it’s even better when your reviews are more recent.

When people are checking out a business online, they typically won’t just read one review and more on. They’ll read several different reviews, and in order for those reviews to be relevant to their potential experience with your business, they need to be recent.

In fact, a lot of people won’t even pay attention to a review if it wasn’t left within the last few weeks. This means that generating reviews for your nail salon needs to be something you focus on consistently and continuously.

How can you generate more reviews for your nail salon?
  • Let your clients know where you’re listed – Hang a sign in your salon indicating the different places your clients can leave you a review. But keep in mind that the last thing a client is going to do is to go through the process of signing up for a Yelp account or an Angie’s List account in order to write a review for your business. If your business is also listed on a platform where they already have an account, like Facebook or Google, it’ll make it much easier for them to leave a review for you. This is another reason why it’s important to get your business listed and claimed on a variety of review sites.
  • Ask for reviews – Asking for reviews can be kind of a grey area, depending on the review site in question and how you go about doing it. However, there is one thing that’s crystal clear about asking for reviews — it works! The vast majority of your customers won’t think to leave a review for your salon on their own, but if you ask, they are more than willing. But it’s important to keep in mind that asking for reviews is not the same as incentivizing them, and you should never promise a discount or anything else in exchange for a five-star review.
  • Send follow-up emails – Requesting reviews in-person is incredibly effective, but we get it, it’s not the first thing on your mind when you’re with a client. When you’re with a client, you’re focused on providing them with the very best manicure or pedicure possible — not badgering them to write a review for you. That’s why sending follow-up emails the next day can be a great option.

#3. Respond to your online reviews

While generating reviews is essential, simply having reviews isn’t enough to effectively manage your nail salon’s online reputation; you also have to respond to them. Reviews are one-sided, and they’re not always an honest or accurate portrayal of the kind of service you offer your clients.

That can be incredibly frustrating, but when you take the time to respond to your nail salon’s reviews, you can share your side of the story and set the record straight.

It’s important to note that there’s a right way and a wrong way to respond to reviews. If you respond to a review — even a negative one — in the right way, you can show off your customer service chops and potentially even win back the client in the process. But if you respond in the wrong way, you may come across as petty or immature, which could not only mean losing that individual customer for life but a lot of other potential customers as well.

What’s the right way to respond to reviews?
  • Respond quickly, but give yourself a minute to breathe – When a client leaves you a review, they expect a response from you in a timely manner, but if the review has upset you, it can sometimes help to give yourself a few minutes to breathe and collect your thoughts. Some assertions made in reviews can be downright insulting, and it’s normal to get upset when someone is lying about your business online, but if you get caught up in the moment and let your emotions guide your response, it’ll only make the problem worse.
  • Respond to every review – It’s absolutely essential to respond to negative reviews, but did you know that it’s just as important to respond to five-star reviews? Whether the review is negative or positive, the client took time out of their day to write it, and you need to honor that by taking the time to thank them for sharing their feedback. This also ensures that your clients know that their feedback has been heard.
  • Take the conversation out of public view – It won’t look good for your business if you have a public argument on Google or Facebook with a client. You’ll only make yourself look bad. That’s why, when you’re responding to a negative review, you should apologize and offer the client to call you or email you personally to discuss the matter.

#4. Check-in with your clients while they’re in the shop

A big part of managing your nail salon’s online reputation actually happens in person in your salon. Not every review will be an honest reflection of a client’s experience in your nail salon, but most of them will be, which means that your nail salon’s online reputation is a reflection of the kind of service you offer in your salon. One of the best things you can do to manage it is to make customer service your main focus every day.

Sometimes, you might think you’re doing everything right and the experience is still not what the client wanted or expected. That’s why it’s important to keep a pulse on the situation while it’s happening by checking in with your clients to ensure that they’re satisfied throughout the entire experience.

You should also make it a point to ask for feedback in person after you’ve completed a manicure or pedicure. You may even try surveying your clients.

In-person feedback is great because it allows you to solve an issue before it becomes a negative online review that the entire world can see, and it demonstrates to your clients that you truly care about what they think of your salon. The goal of checking in at regular intervals in person is to ensure that they are happy when they walk out of your door — which should be your number one priority with every customer interaction.

#5. Be active on social media

Most businesses think of their website as their ultimate home base online, but it’s actually just one of the many places where you can connect with both your existing and potential clients online. In fact, one of the best places to connect with people is through social media!

Social media is a great place to show off your work and let people know what kind of results people will get when they choose your nail salon, but with a little know-how, it’s also a great place to expand your client base and community.

How do you expand your client base with social media?
  • Focus on the right platforms – All social media platforms aren’t made equally, and while you should be listed and have a presence on a variety of platforms, your main focus should be on the platforms that your client case uses the most. What’s the best way to know what platforms those are? All you have to do is ask!
  • Show off your work – The common saying — “a picture is worth 1,000 words” — is especially true when it comes to social media. While you can and should use text to communicate on social media, almost nothing is more powerful than an image, except for videos, that is, which is another great medium for showing off your work.
  • Post often – Posting on social media isn’t something you can just do once. You have to keep at it on a regular, consistent basis in order to make an impact and grow your online reputation to what you want it to be. Posting regularly on social media will also help to improve the social media optimization of your website, leading to better organic rankings and more visibility.
  • Engage with your audience – Making connections with other people is one of the best things you can do for the success of your nail salon, and that’s just as true on social media as it is in person. Make it a point to always respond to any comments you get on social media, and don’t be afraid to ask for permission to share your clients’ nails or stories on social media as well.

#6. Display reviews on your website

When you get a glowing, five-star review, it’s normal to want to shout about it from the mountaintops. There are so many ways to display your reviews so that more people can see them, but one of the best things you can do is to display them on your website.

A good client review is a great thing to display prominently on your website, and when people see it, it will help to establish trust and comfort in your nail salon.

There are two basic ways that you can add reviews to your website. One option is simply to copy/paste the review, which is good, but the most effective way to display reviews is with a reviews widget. When you copy/paste, you can only display one review, but when you embed a review widget on your site, you’ll add new, dynamic review content to your site on a regular basis.

Take control of your nail salon’s online reputation with Top Rated Local®

Top Rated Local is not your average review site. Our algorithm collects reviews from a variety of review sites to provide you with an overall Rating Score™ for your nail salon, which will give you a good idea of how you’re doing across the board — instead of just on one single review site.

In addition to helping you get an understanding of your nail salon’s overall online reputation, signing up for Top Rated Local comes with a long list of benefits for business owners, including real-time notifications when you get reviews, the ability to respond to reviews, prioritized profile ranking on Google, monthly email updates about your salon’s reputation, a Top Rated Local badge to help you display reviews on your website and so much more.

Don’t wait. Become a Top Rated Local nail salon today!

Originally published 11/7/19

Ethics and Reputation Management

An ethical approach to reputation management

Word of mouth has always been one of the main ways small businesses have gotten their name out and grown. While the value of word of mouth is undeniable, online reputation is playing a bigger and more prominent role than ever in how a business is seen by its potential customers.

One of the key functions of your online reputation is offering a presentation of your company, and ideally, giving customers a reason to trust you. Trust plays a huge role in whether or not a potential customer will choose you over any other business. In this day and age, trust is one of the most important things your business can have.

In a 2013 study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, customers identified authenticity as one of the top qualities that would attract them to a brand, and according to BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews from other customers just as much as they would recommendations from peers. In other words, a bad reputation, or no reputation, can kill your business.

It is important to navigate the world of online reputation management in a way that is viewed as ethical. Ethics is defined as the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. With that in mind, there are some simple ways to stay on top of your online reputation while acting in a way that is also ethical.

Here are five simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to managing your online reputation ethically.

Don’t

Assume your reputation will speak for itself

It’s entirely possible that you’re the best at what you do, you have incredible employees and your customers have absolutely loved and benefited from your service.

While all of that can be true, if you are not actively monitoring and promoting your online reputation, you will stay practically invisible to a large potential audience. When a potential client first discovers your business, they will be quick to make judgments and buying decisions based on what they find online.

At the end of the day, your reputation isn’t going to speak for itself. If you don’t showcase a strong online presence, that potential client is just going to turn the other way. One easy and ethical way to start promoting your business is by asking the people that have loved your service to leave you some feedback online.

Create fake reviews

While this one seems like it should be a no-brainer, fake reviews are actually, sadly, pretty common and definitely unethical.

This one goes two ways — don’t create fake negative reviews for a competitor, and don’t create fake positive reviews for yourself. This shady tactic is not only unethical, but it’s also not legal.

According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), online endorsements cannot be misleading, cannot publish fake or unfounded claims, and must disclose any relationship or connection between the reviewer and the company. The cost of violating these guidelines could be steep since the FTC has the legal authority to charge significant fines or even shut down a business.

In one case in 2017, the FTC fined a car dealer in California $3.6 million for encouraging its employees to pose as customers and post fake positive reviews about the company.

Create negative content about your competitors

In a continuation of the last point, keep in mind that creating fake reviews is certainly unethical, and sometimes illegal. It is absolutely not worth risking your business to trash talk the competition.

When it comes to defamation and libel, the traditional rules apply to online content, which means that leaving fake negative comments for a competing business is likely going to get you into way more trouble than it’s worth.

If you want to do something that is actually beneficial to your business, take a look through your competitors’ actual negative reviews and see if the ways they are failing are things that your company can excel in. For example, if their customers have commented about their cold and unwelcoming waiting room, you can really stand out by offering a comfortable and fun space for your clients to hang out in!

By monitoring actual feedback instead of inventing fake feedback, you might end up learning something valuable about what your potential customers are looking for.

Spam

Spamming, or ‘spamdexing’ the internet, with lackluster or false content can have an effect on search results and your ranking in them, and is definitely an unethical practice.

There are many ways to create content spam or link spam, many of which are deceptive. Algorithms are used by the major search engines in order to figure out where to rank a website by figuring out what keywords and category the website is relevant to.

Some businesses operate under the idea that any content is good content and will create spam content in the form of articles or blogs that, to a reader, will look like garbage, but to an algorithm, might be full of keywords that might boost the website’s standing.

Try to erase the past

There is a false notion out there that managing your online reputation means getting rid of the mistakes or criticisms your business has run into, and instead, showing the public a flawless and perfected version of your business.

While you do want to highlight the good, it’s unethical to simply pretend the bad doesn’t exist, or to try and hide it from the world. Besides, the ‘delete’ button isn’t going to wipe you or your mistakes from people’s memories.

Do:

Practice transparency

Trust is everything for small business, and one simple way to build trust is to offer transparency to your audience. By offering transparency in your business, you are showing your clients that your business is open, honest and worth trusting.

One study found that 94 percent of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency. If you are willing to be upfront about your practices, you are that much more likely to gain bought-in, loyal customers. If you can’t offer it, potential customers can all too easily continue their search until they find a company they are happy to place their trust in.

Establish your business’s core values

This is one simple way to show your audience the kinds of things that are important to you as a company. It can also help to make sure your employees are aware of the kind of business you are, and how to act according to the values you establish.

When your employees and your potential clients understand what you stand for, it helps them to decide if you are worth investing time and money in.

Learn from your mistakes, and from the mistakes of others

Accepting feedback and doing something about it is a responsible and professional way to handle your business. Customers will take notice that you care about their experience and are not too proud to learn and grow.

In some cases, making a change after receiving negative feedback will make you and your business look even better than if nothing had been wrong in the first place!

People respect someone who can learn and change, and customers certainly want to feel heard, appreciated and valued. You can also learn from the mistakes of your competitors by seeing where they are falling behind in reviews and focusing on being great in those areas.

Publish valuable content

Content marketing is one of the best ways to add value to your business. By creating content, you are able to share information with your clients and become known as an expert in your field.

When you share quality content, you make it clear that you are knowledgeable, useful and worth following. The things you share are able to help you connect with your audience, establishing a relationship based on trust and familiarity. If you want to be seen and remain relevant, you need to participate in content marketing.

Stay active

Keep in mind that consistency is key when it comes to marketing your business and keeping up with your reputation. Maintain a schedule when it comes to posting content, checking your reviews and responding to your reviews.

Again, this links to trustworthiness. Show your audience that their time matters by showing them consistency and excellence in all you do.


Start building a strong reputation the ethical way by becoming a Top Rated Local® business today. And, learn how Marketing 360® can help you manage your online reputation like a pro.

Originally published 11/18/19

A Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Local Businesses

These days, it’s not enough just to have a website; you need to make sure that your website gets found!

Ensure that your local business gets found

Having a website is a must for any local business in this day and age. People search for just about everything you can think of online, and that’s not a trend that will die down any time soon.

However, simply having a website is only the first step toward success; you also need to make sure that your website will be found. It could even be argued that, if your website isn’t among the top search results for relevant keywords, it might as well not even exist.

According to searchenginepeople, around 75% of clicks go to the first page of results in organic searches, with 33% going to the first position, 15% going to the second position and 9% going to the third position.

SEO is a vital part of reputation management.

If you’ve read many of our Top Rated Local® blogs, then we don’t need to tell you how important your business’s online reputation is to your success, and you may be wondering where SEO (search engine optimization) ties into it. The truth is that SEO and reputation management go hand in hand, and you can’t really have one without the other.

Did you know that customer reviews can actually help you rank higher in the SERP (search engine results pages)? Did you know that claiming and optimizing your listings can help to improve your rankings as well? Did you know that, while you can’t always control what other people say about your business online, you can work to ensure that the top search results for your business name are your website and social media pages instead of negative press?

Start taking control of your business’s online reputation by implementing a local SEO strategy.

5 beginner SEO tips for local businesses

#1. Get started with Google My Business.

The first and most important thing a local business can do from an SEO standpoint is to create their listing on Google My Business, and then to optimize it.

Your Google My Business listing is what ensures that your business ranks in the maps result for local, “near-me” searches.

This is incredibly important for any local business, but especially for those that have brick and mortar locations where clients or customers can visit you, like flower shops, restaurants, jewelry stores, etc.

Your business’s listing on Google will often be the first thing prospective customers see when they come across your business online, so in addition to creating a listing on Google My Business, you also need to optimize your listing.

Optimizing your Google My Business page means adding photos, posting about upcoming events and promotions, updating your business information, gathering reviews and making your page as complete and as active as possible.

What if there’s already a Google My Business listing for your business? Don’t worry; this sometimes happens. And as long as you have the authorization to manage the listing, you can request that the ownership be transferred through Google.

#2. Create and/or claim listings on local directories and review sites

The more websites your business is listed on, the more exposure your website — and your business — will get. Plus, when your contact information is listed accurately and consistently across many different websites, it ensures that your customers are able to get ahold of you when they need to, and it will help to improve your website’s standing in the rankings.

When you go to create a listing on sites, like Top Rated Local, you may find that a profile or listing already exists. If that’s the case, it’s advisable to claim the listing as your own. This will allow you to update the contact information, respond to any reviews you get on the platform and, on some websites, to write a few words about who you are and what you do.

Consistency across listings will also help to build trust with prospective clients, and it makes it easier to get reviews from your clients because they’ll have a higher chance of already having a profile set up on a site you’re listed on.

Does the idea of updating listings across a plethora of directories and review sites seem daunting? Luckily, there are plenty of citation building services out there that can simplify the process for you, like Marketing 360®’s Listings app, which will help you easily get your business listed on more than 50 local directories, sites and apps.

#3. Publish local-friendly content on your website

If you’re not new to our blog, then you’ve probably seen the phrase, “Content is king,” more than once. That’s because, in terms of SEO, absolutely nothing beats consistently publishing quality content on your website. And when you want your business to rank locally, it pays to learn how to write local-friendly content. Here are a few local-friendly blog topics you could write about:

  • Customer case studies and success stories – If you have a great success story with a happy client, ask them for permission to share it online! Case studies are an amazing way to show off how much of an impact your service or product can make for real-life customers and you can add in the local flavor by adding in relevant details about the location.
  • Volunteer work and local causes – Giving back will not only make you feel good; it will make you look good, too. And, it makes for great, local content because it helps you demonstrate your love for your local community.
  • Local partnerships – Lots of businesses could benefit from partnering with other local businesses. For example, a pet groomer may partner with a veterinarian to get referrals, or the other way around. If you partner with any local businesses, it will make a great, local blog topic.

#4. Don’t skip the on-site basics

Setting your website up for SEO success is a little more involved than you might first think, but it will be worth it.

These are called the on-site basics, and they consist of a variety of small, on-page tasks to improve your website’s ranking. Here are a few of the on-site basics you should complete on your website for a better ranking in the SERP:

  • Optimize title tags and meta descriptions – Title tags and meta descriptions are what people see in the SERP when your website comes up. Optimizing your title tag and meta description with your location (or the areas you serve) will help to improve your rankings in the SERP, as well as your click-through rate. Did you know that pages with meta descriptions rank an average of 5.8% higher than pages that don’t?
  • Add alt image tags to your photos – Part of mastering SEO includes getting as many keywords onto your website as you can, and adding alt image tags to your photos could give your business a small bump in the rankings.
  • Have a unique page for each location – Does your business have multiple locations? If so, it’s important to have a unique page on your website for every individual location.

#5. Build links to your website

The more links that point to your website, the better, as link building will help to improve your business’s rankings in the SERP. This is another reason why it’s important to get your business listed across a variety of directories and social media sites. Here are a few tips to help you build local links that point to your website:

  • Utilize your partners – If you partner with other local businesses, this is a great opportunity to get some links pointed to your website. Reach out to the local businesses you partner with, offer to promote them on your website and ask that they do the same.
  • Sponsor organizations and events – Most organizations and event planners will publish information about their sponsors with links to their websites.
  • Send out press releases – If you’ve got an announcement, creating a local press release is a great way to spread the word about it, and as a bonus, you’ll get a host of new links pointing back to your site.
  • Write some guest posts – As a business owner, chances are, you’re a subject matter expert in whatever industry you’re in, which means that you have a lot of knowledge to share. Offering to write guest posts for local bloggers with an audience that might be interested in what you have to say is an excellent way to flex your writing skills and gain some links for your business.

Get listed or claim your listing with Top Rated Local!

Now that you know the importance of getting listed and how it can help improve your business’s rankings in the SERP, it’s time to create/claim your Top Rated Local listing today! Learn more about the benefits of becoming a Top Rated Local business, and sign up for free!

Originally published 11/23/19

Reputation Management No-Nos That Will Put You on the Naughty List

Want to stay on the nice list (at least as far as your business’s online reputation is concerned)?

Even small reputation management mistakes can be difficult to bounce back from

Your business’s online reputation is one of the most important things in for your current and future success, but unfortunately, it can be an incredibly fragile thing that can easily get damaged by even the smallest mishap.

Without knowing it, you could undo months or even years of hard work, and it may take just as long to build it back up to where it was.

Staying on the “nice list,” as far as your business’s online reputation is concerned, is something that every business owner should strive for, but it can be easier said than done, especially if you’re not in the know about how damaging even small mistakes can be to your online reputation, or  even what those mistakes are in the first place.

That’s why we’ve come up with this quick guide to common reputation management no-nos that can land you on the naughty list this holiday season.

5 common online reputation management mistakes that will land your business on the naughty list

Mistake #1. Failing to claim your business listings

Failing to claim your business listings is a rookie mistake that can leave people frustrated and leave negative comments about your business unchecked.

Whether you’re signed up for local directories and review sites or not, chances are high that your business has a listing on them. These listings are often automatically pulled in by algorithms, but the catch is that the information pulled about a business may not be the right information.

Businesses may move to a new location, switch their phone number or even go through a name change — all of which can get lost in translation on listing sites. Claiming your listing on these sites will give you the ability to update the information that already exists about your business.

This helps to create more cohesion for your brand across the web, and it also helps to ensure that, no matter where a prospective customer finds you — on your website, on Google, on Yelp, etc. — they won’t have to deal with inaccurate contact information, which means that they’ll actually be able to get ahold of you.

Another great reason to claim your business listings is that it gives you a greater ability to manage and respond to online reviews. Some of these sites allow you to flag or get fake or inauthentic reviews taken down, but at the very least, they all give you the ability to respond to negative reviews, which can often be a much more effective alternative to getting them taken down.

Mistake #2. Buying reviews and/or creating fake reviews

Most business owners understand how important it is to generate reviews on a regular basis, but getting their clients to actually write reviews can be awkward and challenging.

For one, every review site has its own views on asking for reviews. Some sites, like Yelp, consider asking for reviews a definite black-hat tactic, and if you’re caught incentivizing reviews, it can lead to consequences.

Other sites consider asking for reviews to be just fine, as long as you’re not bribing clients in exchange for review or dictating what the review should say or how many stars you should be given.

All of this murkiness can leave some businesses desperate for reviews but unsure of how to get them, and it can make buying reviews a very tempting prospect.

Buying reviews may seem like a quick, easy way to get ahead of the competition, but if you’re caught — and you likely will be — the consequences are probably more than you bargained for.

Purchasing fake reviews is absolutely against Google’s guidelines, and if they catch you breaking the rules, they don’t mess around. In fact, Google can take down your business listing completely, and if your business isn’t listed on Google, it may as well not exist at all.

Furthermore, buying fake reviews is illegal, and it can result in fines.

Want to learn more about the consequences of buying fake reviews? Check out our previous blog.

Mistake #3. Failing to respond to reviews

Responding to reviews is something that every business should make a point to do.

Think about how difficult it can be to get a customer to leave a review in the first place. You know how busy their schedule is — which is why you were so nervous about asking for a review in the first place — and it’s important to recognize the fact that they took a few minutes out of their busy day to write a review for you. This is especially a sacrifice during the holidays when we are all running around like a bunch of beheaded chickens.

The reviewer has a lot going on, but they still took a few minutes to give your business feedback online, and whether that feedback is negative or positive, when you take the time to respond back to them, you’re honoring that time sacrifice they’ve made for you.

You don’t necessarily have to include a whole lot in your response, and you’d be surprised at how far a simple, “Thank you for taking the time to write a review about the business!” will get you.

Another reason why responding to reviews is essential is that it can help to set the record straight about anything inaccurate or misleading in reviews, and it also helps to protect against the damage that fake reviews can cause.

It can be very difficult to get reviews taken down — even if you can prove that they’re fake — and often, a business owner’s best and only course of recourse is to set the record straight in their response.

There is one stipulation when it comes to responding to reviews — you need to do it right, especially if it’s a negative review. Calling out a review as fake or getting defensive in your response will only accomplish making you look petty and unprofessional.

The best response to a negative review will include an apology (but not necessarily an acceptance for wrongdoing in the event of a fake review), an explanation of how you’ll make it right and an invitation for the reviewer to discuss the matter further via phone or email.

If you need to, give yourself a day or two to cool off before responding to an unfair review.

Mistake #4. Attacking a competitor’s reputation online

Just as buying fake reviews to post about your business is wrong and can be extremely consequential, so is attacking a competitor’s online reputation by leaving fake reviews.

However, this is something that a lot of small businesses are tempted by. After all, they don’t have the same resources as their larger or more established rivals may have; how else are you supposed to even the playing field?

At the end of the day, attacking your competitor’s online reputation through fake reviews will only come back to bite you.

For one, fake reviews left by competitors can be easier to spot than you might think. Even if you think that you’re being sneaky and are one step ahead of everyone, chances are high that you’ll be found out.

At the very least, most businesses keep records of the clients they’ve helped, and if there is no record that they ever helped you, it could easily lead to being called out, which will, again, leave you looking petty and mean.

At the extreme end, if you’re caught leaving a fake review for a competitor, your business could end up being sued. Lawsuits are extremely expensive, not to mention an emotional nightmare. Plus, not a lot of businesses have thousands of dollars lying around to cover legal costs, and a lawsuit could easily be a small business’s undoing.

It’s important to fully understand the consequences before you make the mistake of dissing an online competitor. Instead of trying to knock the competition down a notch by attacking them online, a much better alternative is to think about things you can do to make your own online reputation stand out.

The road is longer, but ultimately, it’ll be a much more effective strategy long-term. After all, even if you were able to destroy one competitor, there will always be more, and, chances are, you don’t have the time or resources to take them all down with fake reviews.

Want to learn more about why you should refrain from attacking your competition online? Check out our previous blog.

Mistake #5. Overlooking the importance of face-to-face interactions

A lot of business owners get caught up in the “online” aspect of online reputation management and forget that a business’s online reputation is largely about the kind of face-to-face service they offer each and every day.

While it’s true that a lot of the aspects of maintaining a strong online reputation happens online — i.e. writing blogs, responding to reviews, claiming business listings, SEO (search engine optimization) — the kind of service you provide for your customers in-person is equally as important (if not more so) than your efforts online.

This is why, the first and most important part of building and maintaining a solid online reputation, is what happens day to day in your interactions with clients or customers.

Let’s face it, it really doesn’t matter how good you are at posting on social media, writing blogs or responding to reviews if you don’t have great face-to-face service to back it up. Businesses with the most impressive online reputations understand that it all starts with great customer service in-house.

Refocusing on customer service is a smart move for your business’s reputation, online and offline. Here are a few things you can do to make customer service your business’s top priority once again:

  • Make sure that your employees are all properly trained, and set the right expectations as far as how you would like interactions with customers to look and you want them to behave.
  • Keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to customer interactions. In other words, check-in regularly to ensure that the customer is satisfied every step of the way.
    Follow up after everything is said and done. Sometimes, dissatisfied customers aren’t comfortable telling you that they’re not happy, and you won’t find out until they’ve vented their frustration online in the form of a negative review. By following up, you can help to correct issues before they become one-star reviews.
  • Operate with honesty and transparency. Customers complain about all kinds of things, but no one likes to be surprised by hidden fees and other information. No one wants to feel like the wool is being pulled over their eyes, and you can help to counteract that feeling by making honesty and transparency paramount in your business. It’s better to inform customers of their options than it is to choose one for them, and that’s true even if you firmly believe that you’re choosing the option that’s in their best interest.
  • Follow the Golden Rule. In other words, treat your customers like you would want to be treated yourself — with respect, dignity, honesty and straightforwardness. This is especially important if you work in an industry that regularly deals with people’s most stressful situations, like restoration, moving and funeral services. Put yourself in their shoes, and operate with empathy and compassion.

Want to learn more about the importance of great customer service for your business’s online reputation? If so, check out our previous blog!

Get on the online reputation “nice list” with Top Rated Local®!

These days, it’s essential for a business’s success to have the right kind of online reputation, and we hope that this article will help you know about some of the common online reputation management mistakes businesses commonly make, as well as the potential consequences of making those mistakes.

If you’re looking to take your business off of the naughty list this holiday season, then one of the best things you can do to get started is to get your business listed/claim your business listing on Top Rated Local. It’s easy, free and will help you better manage your online reputation from one convenient place.

Sign up today!

Originally published 12/18/19

Tips 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 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 5 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 they can trust.

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?

Know that you are not alone. No business is immune to negative reviews or an 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.

5 things you can do to fix a broken reputation

#1. Own your past 

There are few things as powerful as a business 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 a business that is more concerned about its pride than its customers.

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 will give you the chance to look good to your audience.

By acknowledging that this customer’s concerns are heard and worth responding to, you show your audience that you care and that you are paying attention. You don’t even necessarily need to confess to any specific grievances.

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 are dedicated to 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 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 gives customers a reason to trust you, which is more important now than ever.  

#2. 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 boosts your 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 house cleaning company, for example, 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 how to maintain 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.

The kind of trust you can build by blogging about real questions and concerns, in and of itself, is 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. 

#3. 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, 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 recognized with a Top Rated Local awards.

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! 

#4. Claim your listings and set up 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 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. Neither option is good for business.

Taking your business’s 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.

#5. 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’s 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’s online presence!

Originally published 12/20/19

The Importance Of Reputation Management For Plumbers

Online reputation is vital to a plumber’s success

The world of online reputation management may seem a bit too much for your local, family-owned plumbing company, but it definitely should not be overlooked or brushed off as being only helpful for younger generations.

Let us fill you in on why your online reputation matters and what you can accomplish by taking control of it! By understanding and managing your online reputation, you can gain valuable insight into the minds of your customers, see where your reputation is shining or lacking, and communicate with your current and potential future clients!

What your reviews tell people

Whether for last-minute emergency services or a long-awaited planned project, when it comes time for the average consumer to choose a plumber, most people are going to turn to the internet before deciding who to hire.

As a local business, your online reputation can make or break you. Today, your online reviews hold as much weight as word of mouth has in the past.

In fact, 88-percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a personal recommendation. While positive reviews can help get your name out and grow your business, negative reviews can result in a bad reputation, which will undoubtedly harm your business.

Your loyal fans, your current customers and an untold number of future potential customers are using online reviews every day to make their purchasing decisions.

Think about it. From the most mundane household products, like sponges and hand soap, all the way up to important services, like optometrists and family doctors, people almost never choose a product or service without doing some research first.

That means that it is more important than ever to stay on top of and manage your online reputation. Think of your reviews as the new word of mouth or referral.

Imagine a potential customer searches for local plumbers and comes across your page and a competitor’s page. Your page has no reviews and theirs has a few positive reviews scattered across Facebook and Google. That customer is most likely going to go with the business that people have recommended through their reviews!

Many times, people are looking for a plumber with some level of urgency, and the average person doesn’t have much, if any, plumbing knowledge. They really rely on those reviews to help them know which business to trust!

Plumbing is a competitive industry, and you can be the best plumber in the city, but if potential customers aren’t told as much by someone other than yourself, they have no reason to believe you.

Check out your competition

Not only can your online reputation give you a leg-up in the industry, but it can also give you some good insight into what customers care about.

Browse through the reviews of some of your competitors. What are the top compliments and criticisms being made about other businesses in your field?

Maybe you hadn’t thought to really focus on communication, but you’ve noticed that that’s one of the things people complain about the most. You can help your business to stand out even more by going out of your way to be the best when it comes to communication!

You commit to responding to all voicemails by the end of the day, you start to send out follow-up emails, and maybe you even set up your employees with a texting service so they can let the customer know when they are on their way. Soon enough, excellent communication skills become something you are known for!

By seeing where others are struggling, you can get a good idea about what is going on in the minds of the consumers, as well as what they value and what tends to bother them the most.

You can also see where you might be outshining your competitors! By reading through the reviews, you might notice that you’re the only local company that keeps getting compliments about your friendly technicians.

You can lean into that when it comes to your branding. Start by saying that customer service is something you’re known for, because at this point, it is, and you have the reviews to back that up!

Make yourself more visible

It is crucial for you to show up as one of the top results when someone searches for businesses in your industry. In fact, it’s been shown that 75-percent of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results!

If you don’t show up on that first page, it’s almost as bad as not showing up at all. If you’re trying to buy your way to the top with keywords and paid ads, get ready to shell out the big bucks.

An easier, and significantly cheaper, way to boost your visibility is through reviews.

Your SEO (search engine optimization) is boosted when you provide original, fresh content, and new customer reviews are a form of content that not only helps by giving you precious feedback, but also helps to get your brand noticed by those algorithms that can push you to the top!

Communicate with your customers

Online or off, there’s no doubt that communication is valued in the service industry.

Online reviews give you a unique platform where you can communicate with your consumer base quickly and publically.

If a negative review comes in, you can quickly address the issue, showing potential customers that you are not only communicative but that you also value customer feedback. In some cases, you can even turn around a bad review by addressing the customer’s concerns and showing them that you care about their experience.


Make managing your reputation easy with Top Rated Local

Plumbers who have been in business for a while will and have a long list of clients probably also have reviews across many different platforms, like Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Facebook, and Google — Top Rated Local can help you keep track of where your reputation is by bringing them all to one place!

It has never been easier to take control of your online reputation, and with some help from Top Rated Local, you can quickly get the shining reputation you’ve dreamed of.

Originally published 10/21/19

3 Reasons to Make Customer Service Your Top Priority

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

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, then you are probably aware that building and maintaining a strong online reputation is a multi-faceted process that involves managing a number of moving pieces.

But, at the end of the day, there’s nothing more important than providing great customer service.

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

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

When all is said and done, no matter what you do online to manage your online reputation, it’s always going to be a reflection of the kind of service you provide your customers face to face.

3 reasons to make customer service your top priority

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

Most businesses in this day and age have quite a bit of competition, and that’s true for businesses in every industry and businesses of all shapes and sizes.

So, how do you ensure that your business stands out when there are 20 others in your area that offer the same services or products? By focusing on fantastic customer service!

A whopping 70% of consumers say that they’ve already made the commitment to support a brand because of great customer service. And, 52% of consumers say that they’ve made an additional purchase after a positive customer service experience. 

On the other hand, 33% of American consumers say that they will consider switching to a new brand after just one negative customer service experience, and more than 50% have abandoned plans to go through with a purchase or transaction due to poor service. 

People value customer service highly, and they loathe poor service just as vehemently.

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

#2. It leads to brand loyalty

While it’s always a positive thing to get your name out there and gain new customers, nothing beats customer loyalty.

Building customer loyalty leads to repeat business and lifelong customers, resulting in a healthy bottom line and an increase in profits.

In fact, by increasing customer retention by just 5%, you could increase your profits by anywhere from 25% to 95%. 

And, how do you ensure that your customers will turn to you time and time again when they have a need for your products or services? By making customer service one of your top priorities!

After having an excellent customer service experience, 93% of consumers will make a repeat purchase. Furthermore, customers who are “totally satisfied” generate more than twice the revenue as customers who are only “somewhat satisfied.”

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

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

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

Did you know that the number one reason why someone decides to switch to a new brand is feeling unappreciated?

It can take as many as 40 positive experiences to make up for just one negative experience. So, even if you do the right thing most of the time, all it takes is one slip-up to lose a customer’s loyalty for good.

The effects of poor customer service can be long-lasting, and sometimes, it can take companies years to recover. In fact, 51% of consumers say they will never do business with a brand again after a negative experience.

Not only can poor customer service lead to lost customers; it can also lead to negative reviews for your business online, which can hurt your chances of attracting new customers.

Consumers in the U.S. will tell an average of 15 people about a negative experience they’ve had with a brand, while they’ll an average of only 11 people after a positive experience. 

What does great customer service mean to you?

Understanding the importance of focusing on customer service is one thing, but understanding what exactly great customer service means is a whole other ballgame.

Is great customer service greeting your customers by name and remembering their order? Is it always having someone there to answer the phone when they call? Is it following up after a service is performed to ensure satisfaction?

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

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

Like I said, people are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones only. Sometimes, no matter what you do to please your customers, only a few of them will actually end up writing a review for you.

But luckily, it’s easy to get glowing reviews for your business; you just have to ask!

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

Originally published 2/5/20