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 Often, when a listing is left unclaimed on review sites, the information that’s available may be outdated, incorrect or, in some cases, missing altogether.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

How to Find the Right CPA Near You

Tax season is almost here. Dun, dun, dun!

Although it’s a dreaded time for many, tax season doesn’t have to be stressful. With the right CPA or accounting firm on your side, you can rest easy knowing that you’re in good hands.

Of course, you could do your taxes yourself, and there are plenty of programs that make it easy. However, there are many reasons why you might want to consider hiring a tax professional. If working with an accounting firm is the right option for your needs, you’ll want to ensure that you find the right one.

There’s a lot on the line when it comes to hiring a CPA. Working with the right CPA could make the difference between owing money and getting a tax refund, so it’s worth your time to be mindful about who you hire.

6 tips for finding the right CPA

 

 

#1. Figure out what kind of tax specialist you need

Before you start your search for a CPA, you need to know exactly what kind of tax specialist you’ll need. If your situation isn’t too complicated, you probably don’t need to worry too much about finding a CPA who specializes in anything in particular. On the other hand, if you’re facing a complicated situation, like an audit, you need a tax specialist who can get you through it.

CPAs are just one type of tax professional you could choose to work with. If you’re preparing a tax return for an estate, you may need to consult a tax attorney. Or, if the situation you’re dealing with is overly complex, an EA (Enrolled Agent), who has to pass rigorous tests, can help with things, like audits and collection actions.

#2. Know where to look

Finding a CPA can be challenging, especially if you don’t know where to look. As I said, there’s a lot on the line when hiring a tax specialist, as it affects whether or not you get a refund, as well as how much that refund is. There are a lot of places you could look for a CPA, but only a couple of places you should look.

With so much at stake, you don’t want to risk looking for a CPA in the phone book or in even in a Google search, at least without further research. One of the best places to start in your search for a local CPA is a personal recommendation from a friend or coworker. The one downside to this, though, is that a personal recommendation is only about one CPA and only gives you a glimpse of one experience.

Searching for a CPA with Top Rated Local® will allow you to get an instant look at several accounting firms’ overall online reputations and compare them side by side. You’ll also be able to read a firm’s reviews across all of the verified sites it’s listed on.

#3. Pick the right size firm

The general rule is that the bigger the accounting firm, the more likely it will have higher fees and have less time to dedicate to working on your return. That’s not to say that it’s never a good idea to hire a bigger accounting firm, but you’re likely to get more personalized service if you work with a local tax professional.

On the other hand, small accounting firms may not have the diverse talent and experience necessary to get through your return if it’s complicated. In this situation, you might be better off choosing a bigger firm.

 

 

#4. Verify that they have a PTIN

Anyone who is compensated for preparing income taxes, or assisting in preparing income taxes is required by the IRS to have a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number). Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to someone who has volunteered to help you prepare your taxes. But, if you’re paying someone to do your taxes, you’ll need to ensure that they have a PTIN because they’ll need to include it on your tax return.

#5. Ask the right questions

Before you commit to working with someone to do your taxes, you need to speak with them ahead of time. This could be done through an email, over the phone or in person. When you speak with them, make sure that you ask the right questions. These include:

  • How much experience do you have working with people in my situation?
  • Do you specialize in any tax issues in particular?
  • Does the work get done by you personally or your in-house assistants, or does it get outsourced?
  • How are your fees calculated — flat fee, hourly or another rate option?
  • Are your fees negotiable?
  • Approximately how long do you expect it to take for you to finish my taxes?

#6. Watch out for red flags

There are many different CPAs out there who you could choose to work with. Often, you can tell if someone isn’t right for your needs right off the bat when you know which red flags to watch out for. Here are a few common ones:

  • They promise that you’ll get a big refund before even looking at your information.
  • They promise that they can get you a bigger return than other tax professionals
  • They promise that you’ll be able to make certain deductions before looking at your information
  • Their fee is a percentage of your refund
  • They’re not prepared to provide you with support if you’re audited
  • They don’t have the appropriate credentials

Find the right CPA with Top Rated Local!

When you’re ready to search for a CPA near you, start with Top Rated Local. You’ll be able to find the best-reviewed accounting firms in your area, compare them side by side, read CPA reviews from across the web from one place and more. Find a local CPA near you today!

Originally published 2/26/20

How to Find the Right Roofer

When you hire a roofer, it’s important to get it right

Your roof isn’t a small thing. In fact, it’s probably the most important part of your home from a safety and protection standpoint. So, when you’re in need of roofing services, you need to turn to a roofing company that you can rely on to get the job done right the first time.

Hiring a roofing contractor isn’t like hiring a carpet cleaner or a painter. If the job doesn’t get done correctly with one of these contractors, it’s frustrating and will probably look bad, but at the end of the day, no one is in danger or at risk.

But, that’s not the case with your roof. If a roofer makes a mistake, the consequences can be much, much bigger. That’s why you should never settle when it comes to hiring a roofing contractor.

Hiring the right roofer for the job takes a little more time and research than hiring almost any other contractor or local business. Top Rated Local® is here to help!

5 tips on finding the right roofer

#1. Work with a local roofing company

There are countless horror stories out there of homeowners who hired a roofer that offered a five-year warranty, only for that roofer to be nowhere to be found when they actually need them. Unfortunately, roofing is one of those industries where scams are common, but one of the best ways to avoid a roofing scam is to hire a company that has a long history of serving your community.

Another reason why hiring local is beneficial is that a local roofer will understand the unique issues that affect roofs in your area. Whether your roof is prone to algae growth, hail damage or wind damage, a local roofer will understand that, and they’ll be able to better prepare your roof for those kinds of common problems.

When I say to hire a local roofing contractor, that doesn’t mean hiring someone that just operates locally. You want to hire a local contractor that has an established reputation in your community.

#2. Double-check that they are licensed and insured

You want a roofer that has experience, knowledge and expertise, but equally as important, you want a roofer who is both licensed and insured to do the job. And, while you may have to take a roofing company’s word when it comes to their skill and knowledge, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) take their word when it comes to licensing and insurance.

In order to become licensed, a roofer must go through training that teaches them how to do inspections and perform services safely and effectively. Maintaining that licensing also takes work, and any repairs or installations have to meet current building codes. Licensed roofers also follow safety standards, and many of them offer warranties and contracts that help to protect homeowners like you.

Roofing isn’t exactly the safest job, and accidents happen even with the best of roofing companies. If the contractor you’ve hired doesn’t have insurance, you could be the one financially liable for any injuries that occur on the job. Always make sure that any roofer you hire is insured!

#3. Don’t look at the cost alone

Roofing services aren’t exactly cheap, and when you’re in need of roof repairs or a replacement, you might be tempted to simply accept the lowest bid for the job without doing any further research. However, this could potentially be a huge mistake, and while it’s important to consider the cost, it’s certainly not the only thing you should consider.

If a roofing company offers much lower rates than what’s typical in your area, there’s probably a reason for it. Roofers that don’t have a lot of experience or don’t have a strong reputation in their community tend to low-ball when it comes to cost, but chances are, that cost-savings will result in the sacrifice of quality.

Where roofing is concerned, you get what you pay for. That’s not to say that you should automatically choose the highest bid, either, but if a bid is significantly lower than the rest, it’s a red flag.

#4. Find a roofer who shows instead of tells

Roofing services are a lot like automotive repairs in that roofers and auto mechanics know a lot more about the subject matter at hand than your average homeowner or driver. That means that you need to be able to trust the roofer you hire to work with integrity and honesty, and to help you make the right decisions regarding your roof.

Beware of any roofer that tries to sell you a solution without fully explaining the problem or all of the potential solutions to choose from. Any roofer you hire should help to inform you so that you can make the right decision, and that often means showing instead of telling. And, they definitely shouldn’t just make the decision for you.

#5. Read reviews

Every roofer you talk to and every roofing website you visit is going to tell you that they are the best in the business. They’re all going to claim to offer great service and to get the job done right the first time.

However, not every roofer can be the best, and not every roofing company will do what it claims on its website. The only way to know for sure what working with a roofer is really like is to learn what their past clients have said.

Reading reviews is a great rule of thumb to keep in mind when hiring any local business, but it’s especially important when there’s so much on the line. If the roofing contractor has a reputation for leaving jobs unfinished, making mistakes or leaving their clients high and dry when they need them, reading their reviews will help you avoid them.

Find a roofer near you with Top Rated Local®

When you look for a roofing contractor with Top Rated Local, you’ll be able to read each roofing company’s reviews from across the web and compare its overall reputation to the competition.

It’s the only place where you can learn about a roofing company’s online reputation overall without having to visit tons of review sites and directories. There’s a reason why it’s become the go-to local business directory and review site.

Find a local roofer near you today!

Originally published on 3/13/20

When Near-Perfect Beats Perfect

Believe it or not, having a near-perfect average star rating may actually be better for your business than a perfect one.

When a 4.50 average star rating beats a 5.00

At Top Rated Local®, we’re not your typical review site. Rather than just scoring a business based on the reviews on our own website, we aggregate a business’s reviews from a wide range of verified review sites to come up with their overall Rating Score™, giving small businesses a chance to more effectively monitor their online reputation from one place, and giving consumers the chance to truly understand what kind of business they are working with. And because of the nature of the job, we see a wide range of Rating Scores.

Although we can and do recognize those top-tier businesses that have achieved impeccable five-star averages (see our Top Rated Local awards program!), there’s no denying the power of a near-perfect Rating Score when it comes to attracting new customers to your business and establishing trust online.

The benefits of having a near-perfect star rating

#1. Consumers don’t trust perfection

It wasn’t so long ago that it was a common practice for businesses to pay companies to write fake reviews for them, and it’s a large part of why so many people are less trusting of five-star reviews, especially if every review a business has is a five-star.

Luckily, eople are also less trusting of one-star reviews, because many know that competitors and irrationally angry ex-employees or ex-customers will sometimes try to destroy a business’s reputation online in the form of a one-star review.

A study conducted by SmallBusinessPrices.co.uk looked at how trustworthy consumers view businesses based on their average star ratings.

You may or may not be surprised to learn that people are more trusting of a business that has a three- or four-star average rating than a five-star rating. The study found that only about 10% of people trust 5-star ratings; while, 35% trust 4-star ratings and 22% trust 3-star ratings.

Not only might a consumer believe that a perfect five-star rating is inauthentic, but if you don’t have any reviews that are lower than five-stars, they might think that you’ve somehow deleted or hidden negative reviews.

#2. It’s the content that matters

While a business’s average star rating is certainly important, the content of a business’s reviews is what truly matters to consumers who are researching new businesses online.

Five-star reviews will only get you so far if there’s no content to back them up. Reviews appear much more authentic to consumers when there’s an explanation for why the business was ranked a certain way.

And it’s not just the content of the review that matters; it’s also the content of your response. No matter how many stars a review is, you should always make it a point to respond.

Responding to positive reviews is essential because it shows your customers how much you appreciate the fact that they took a few minutes out of their day to give your business a shoutout online. And responding to negative reviews gives you a chance to apologize and fix any mistakes, share your side of the story with the world and show off your customer service skills.

#3. A lot of consumers seek out negative reviews

Surprisingly enough, when a consumer is researching a business online, they will actually specifically seek out negative reviews, which means that, even if you may have a one-star or two-star review, it might not be the worst thing for your online reputation.

Consumers want to see the one- or two-star reviews because they want to know what the worst-case scenario is if they work with you.

There’s a big difference in there being an hour-long wait at a restaurant at 7 pm on a Saturday night and a restaurant giving its patrons food poisoning.

People don’t just look at the star rating; they’ll actually read the review and make their own judgment. And luckily for small businesses, people will, by and large, take one-star reviews with a grain of salt.

#4. Five-star reviews don’t give you any room to grow

Reviews are the modern-day word of mouth, and they’re one of your most powerful tools for building trust with potential customers online.

When there’s a list of 20 plumbers to choose from, consumers utilize reviews to help them choose which one to turn to. And if your average rating is four stars, consumers are even more likely to trust you.

In addition to attracting new customers online, reviews have one other big advantage for your business — they’ll help you grow and learn how to get better and do better for your customers.

That’s why it’s essential to read and internalize reviews, even if they seem overblown or irrational. There’s usually a lesson to learn, and at the end of the day, when you learn that lesson, it will only help your business grow and flourish.

#5. People are more likely to leave four-star reviews themselves

One other big reason why people are more likely to trust a business that has a four-star average rating than a five-star average rating is that people themselves are more likely to leave four-star reviews than five-star reviews, even when they have nothing to complain about.

Part of the reason for this is that people see star ratings differently. For example, some people will only give a business five stars if they went above and beyond to serve them, while others will give any business that they have nothing to complain about five stars.

Furthermore, some people are more subjective in their reviews — writing about their experience with the company as a whole — while others are more personal in their reviews — for example, writing about their experience with a specific staff member.

People don’t often take reviews at face value for this reason, and that’s a good thing for small businesses.


Start managing your business’s online reputation with Top Rated Local

Whether your average rating across review sites is five-stars, four-stars or one-star, managing your business’s online reputation is a non-negotiable part of its success.

With Top Rated Local, you’ll be able to learn about your business’s overall online reputation across a range of different review sites in just one place! And when customers leave reviews on our site, it allows them to rate you based on various parts of the customer experience in addition to simply leaving a comment. But the best part of all is that signing up with Top Rated Local is absolutely free.

Don’t wait. Take control over your business’ online reputation and get listed today!

Originally published on 11/13/19

New Mexico’s Top Rated Local® Businesses: 2021

While there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, we didn’t want to let that stop us from celebrating the amazing small businesses of New Mexico!

Best known for UFO sightings, the world’s first atomic bomb detonation and green chile, New Mexico is a wonderful state to live in and visit. Home to Carlsbad Caverns, more than 500 dinosaur footprints that date back 100 million years and seven national forests, the “Land of Enchantment” is also home to a number of truly incredible local businesses — from acupuncturists to window cleaners — that work to serve their communities and make the world a better place.

Top Rated Local® is here to recognize the many local businesses that work to make New Mexico such a phenomenal place to live and visit. There are so many amazing businesses that serve the people of New Mexico, but only the best of the best have made it on our list of Top Rated Local award winners for 2021. Today, we’re ecstatic to announce our 2021 award winners in New Mexico.

To calculate our 2021 winners, we’ve looked at each business’s Rating Score™, which is determined by the total number of verified review sites the business is listed on, the total number of ratings/reviews the business has on those review sites and the business’s average overall star rating. The more review sites a business is listed on, the more reviews or ratings a business has and the higher the average star rating, the higher the Rating Score will be, with the highest being 100.00.

There are a large number of businesses that work hard to serve the people of New Mexico and provide them with everything they need to thrive, and this year, we’ve identified 667 total businesses that have made the cut. These one-of-a-kind, local businesses have clearly made an impact on the customers and clients they serve each and every day, as evidenced by their impressive average Rating Score of 95.38 and average star rating of 4.85. For comparison, businesses across Top Rated Local average a 68.86 Rating Score and a 4.20 star rating. These businesses are truly the best of the best.

There are so many stand-out businesses in New Mexico that deserve to be recognized for their success, but we’re especially excited to give a shoutout to the number one award-winner in New Mexico for 2021 — Terry Gomez DDS PC. A dental clinic that cares for patients like family, Terry Gomez DDS PC has become Albuquerque’s premier source for dental care. Terry Gomez DDS PC has received 441 reviews across 5 verified review sites with an average star rating of 5.00, which has earned it a phenomenal Rating Score of 100.00 and the bragging rights of being the number one Top Rated Local business in all of New Mexico for 2021. This is the second year in a row Terry Gomez DDS PC has been a Top Rated Local award winner in New Mexico!

Congratulations to all of our award winners in New Mexico for 2021. We commend you for the outstanding service and support you provide for your community day in and day out.

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

Why Shop Local This Holiday Season

There’s a lot to love about the holidays — amazing food, beautiful lights and decorations and of course, the presents! Finding the perfect gift for someone you love is high on the list of things that just make you feel good.

When you do your holiday shopping this year, consider shopping locally. Now, more than ever, local businesses need our support, and this holiday season is the perfect time to start giving back to the local businesses that make our communities great.

Here are just a few of the many reasons to do your holiday shopping with the local businesses near you.

3 big reasons to shop local this holiday season

#1. Local businesses make their communities special

If every city and town across the country had the same, few big-box stores and no local businesses, there really wouldn’t be a whole lot of distinction between communities. But, thanks to many amazing local businesses, there are one-of-kind communities across the country.

Small business owners are very much a part of the communities they serve, they share the same concerns and they understand what their communities value. In other words, they are uniquely equipped to help define and reinforce the personality of their communities.

#2. Local businesses give back

Small, local businesses help to keep their communities great in many different ways, notably by keeping their money within their community, supporting other local businesses and donating to local charities and nonprofits.

When you choose to shop with and support the local businesses in your community, you’ll know that your money isn’t going to shareholders who have no interest in your community, but back into the community itself.

#3. Local businesses create jobs

Did you know that small businesses in the United States employ more than 59 million people? That’s about 47% of the country’s workforce (Small Business Trends).

Small businesses give back to their communities in a lot of different ways, but one of the most proud and impactful ways is the amount of jobs they create. Best of all, those jobs are largely local.

Whether through automation or outsourcing, a lot of major corporations have sacrificed their American workforce in order to save money. But luckily, local businesses provide reliable jobs for their friends and neighbors in their communities.


We know how easy it would be to order your gifts this holiday season from online retailers and just be done with it, and with the pandemic in full swing, that idea is even more tempting to many people. However, there are a lot of things you can do to keep yourself safe while still supporting the local businesses you love.

5 tips for staying safe while shopping local

#1. Take advantage of curbside

A lot of local businesses have opened supplemental online stores or websites, and while not all of them are able to offer delivery (particularly the free delivery you might enjoy from some bigger retailers) many are able to offer curbside delivery.

If you don’t feel comfortable shopping in person, visit your favorite local stores online to see if they offer curbside. Even if they don’t advertise it on their website, some may be willing to bring your purchase out to you if you simply ask!

#2. Buy gift cards

Still looking for great gift ideas for the people you care about? Consider giving them gift cards to some of your favorite local spots around town!

This is the perfect way to give your friends, family and loved ones a gift that they can really use, and it comes with the added benefit of supporting your go-to local businesses. Best of all, oftentimes, gift cards can be completely digital, so you won’t even have to leave your home!

#3. Avoid shopping during peak hours

A crowded small business is hardly the ideal place to be during a pandemic, but sometimes, you have no option but to shop in person if you want to support the local businesses you care about. In cases like these, your best bet is to shop when it’s least busy.

In general, evenings and weekends are probably the worst times to shop if you want to avoid big crowds. Most places are less busy if you shop in the mornings or afternoons during the week.

If you’re unsure about when a specific local business is busiest, you can often find peak hours on Google Maps. Or, you can always call and ask about the best times to shop to avoid a crowd.

#4. Make a list (and check it twice)

Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a list? If you’re anything like me, it takes at least twice as much time and you come home with a lot of chips and cookies but not a lot of vegetables or actual meal ingredients.

Shopping around can be a fun way to find holiday gifts for your loved ones, but it also means spending a lot more time among the crowds of holiday shoppers. That’s why it’s best to have a list and some idea of what you’re looking for before you go.

If you want to shop around and you don’t know exactly what you want, consider shopping with your favorite local businesses online.

#5. Follow safety protocols and guidelines

Whether you’re shopping for milk and eggs, toilet paper or holiday gifts, it’s always important to follow safety protocols and guidelines when you’re out and about.

These guidelines include not going out if you feel sick, wearing a mask when required, staying at least six feet away from other shoppers, refraining from touching things you aren’t going to buy and washing your hands frequently.


Find great local businesses near you, read reviews and compare the local businesses in your area side by side with Top Rated Local®. Plus, learn more about why we love and support local businesses at Top Rated Local and how to stay safe while you’re out shopping today.

3 Reasons to Make Customer Service Your Top Priority

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

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

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

You can get your business listed on every review site and every directory. You can check in on your online reputation every day. You can 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