A Photographer’s Guide to Reputation Management

Reputation management is essential for every business in every industry, but that’s especially true for businesses that largely rely on word of mouth, like photographers.

Keeping your photography business above water means learning how to manage your online reputation.

As a photographer, you rely largely on word of mouth to bring new clients in the door, which means that you need to keep doing great work in order to keep earning new business. But unfortunately, in this day and age, word of mouth — while still an invaluable form of marketing — isn’t enough to keep your business afloat.

It used to be that when someone needed a photographer to capture their wedding or help them make the most of their memories, they would turn to a friend or family member to find out who they’ve worked with in the past. And yes, this still does happen on some scale, but these days, most of that is done online.

Instead of asking friends and family for advice on which photographer to work with, most people will simply do a quick Google search for “photographer near me.” And they narrow down the many options that come up in the SERP (search engine results pages) by reading reviews and learning about a business’ online reputation. Reviews are what word of mouth used to be, and if you don’t have a plan for how to generate, manage and respond to your reviews, then you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice.

Here are a few things you can do to start managing your photography business’ online reputation like a pro:

Know where you’re at.

Unless your photography business is just a fledgling, there’s a good chance that you have some sort of online reputation already out there. And before you start coming up with goals on what you want your reputation to be and strategies for how to build it and maintain it, you first need to understand where it’s at and what it looks like. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you surmise what your online reputation looks like:

  • How many review sites/directory sites is your business listed on, and have you claimed the listings on those sites?
  • How many reviews does your business have across the many different review sites, and what’s your average star rating on different review sites?
  • Have you responded to the reviews you’ve received?
  • What are your clients saying about you online?
  • What comes up in the SERP when you type your business’ name in Google?

Answering all of these questions may seem daunting, and you might need to do a little research in order to find the answers. However, there are a couple of different things you can do to make it easier, including signing up for Google Alerts and becoming a Top Rated Local business.

Google Alerts help you to stay in the know about your business’ online reputation, and they are user friendly, can be sent to you in whatever frequency works best for your (after every mention, once a week or even once a month) and it’s free! By signing up for Google alerts, you can monitor any mentions of your business, better follow industry trends, track your marketing success and even keep an eye on how your competitors are doing.

Becoming a Top Rated Local business is another advantageous thing you can do for your photography business, and like Google Alerts, signing up is free! Top Rated Local is not like your average review platform, where the only reviews you see are the ones written on Top Rated Local. Instead, Top Rated Local aggregates a company’s reviews across multiple platforms in one place, and best of all, you’ll get a Rating Score™ that will make it easy to keep a pulse on your business’ online success.

The Top Rated Local Rating Score gives businesses a snapshot of their overall online reputation, and it’s calculated by the number of review sites a business is listed on, the number of reviews the business has, the average star rating of those reviews and more. With Top Rated Local on your side, you never have to wonder about your business’ online reputation again!

Get connected.

Most photographers already realize the importance of social media, because it’s how they get connected (and stay connected) with their clients, as well as how they attract new clients to their business. However, not all photographers realize just how important social media really is. Consider this:

Approximately 74 percent of consumers turn to social networks to help guide their purchasing decisions.

That’s not a number you can easily ignore, nor should it be, and as the market becomes more and more saturated with Millennials and Generation Z, more and more people will start relying on social media when looking for a local business to work with.

The first step towards connecting with your audience on social media is to make sure that your business has a profile on as many social media sites as possible (make sure that they are applicable to what you do). This way, you can meet your clients where they’re already at. After all, no business should expect their client to sign up for a Facebook page for the sole purpose of following them online. Not everyone is on social media, but by setting up a profile on many different sites, you’ll have a higher chance of being listed on the social media site your customers frequent the most.

It’s not enough to simply have your business listed on social media sites. In order to find the success you’re looking for online, you need to make it a point to be active. This means that you should share photos and other posts and interact with the people who follow you, especially those who have taken the time to write a review for your business. And if your business does have profiles across multiple social media channels, it’s highly important that you ensure that you’re sending a consistent message across all of them.

Get listed, and claim your listings.

If your business isn’t already listed on every applicable review site that you can think of, then it’s time to get it listed. People will search for photographers in a variety of places, including Google, Facebook, Yelp and The Knot (if you do wedding photography), just to name a few, and the businesses that rank on all of these sites have one very important thing in common — they have claimed listings on these review sites and they have reviews (OK two very important things).

Chances are, whether you know it or are actively managing it, there’s a good chance that your business already has a listing on most of the review sites out there. These listings are automatically populated from Google in most cases, and you probably wouldn’t be able to get them taken down even if you wanted to. So your best course of action is to claim your listing on these sites.

Claiming your listing is paramount because it allows you to actually take control over your business’ reputation on each review site/directory. Let’s face it, algorithms aren’t always perfect and the information about your business that they pull won’t always be perfect. Additionally, you might have moved to a new location since that information was added or you may have a new phone number. At the end of the day, no matter how a customer finds you online — whether it be via Yelp, Facebook or Google — you want them to be able to get ahold of you, and the only way to do that is by claiming your listing.

Ensuring that your information is accurate and consistent across all of the review platforms your business is listed on is also an important part of building trust with your audience. Think about it: if a customer finds you on a review site and the number they call is no longer available or is answered by someone else, it doesn’t establish a lot of trust. In fact, that customer may even think that you are no longer in business!

Another good reason to claim your listing on a variety of review sites is that it makes things easier and more convenient for your clients to write you a review. Getting clients to write reviews can feel like pulling teeth as it is, and if they not only have to write the review but also sign up for a review site in order to post it, it’s going to make it even harder to get them to leave you a review. But if your business has claimed their listing on a variety of review sites, the chances are a lot higher that your client will already be signed up for one, making it easier to get them to write you a review.

Generate reviews.

Now that you have a good idea of what your online reputation looks like and have claimed your listings across the many different directories and review sites, you can start the very serious business of maintaining your online reputation, which means that you need to generate more reviews.

Reviews are essential for the success of local businesses of all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to photography, that’s especially true because of the heavy reliance on word of mouth in the industry. As we talked about in the beginning of this article, online reviews are largely the new word of mouth, and of the 82 percent of consumers who make it a point to read online reviews, a whopping 93 percent also use those reviews when making purchase decisions.

When you provide next-level service for your customers that they can’t stop raving about, ideally, you want them to post it online; however, getting your customers to actually take the step to do that can sometimes be more difficult than you might think. The fact of the matter is that most clients won’t write reviews on their own, no matter how outstanding the service was, and there are lots of things you can do to help generate more reviews for your business:

  • Let clients know how important reviews are – In most cases, clients don’t not write reviews because they’re lazy or spiteful; they genuinely don’t know how important they are for a small business’ well-being. In these cases, simply telling them what a difference it can make for your business for them to write about their experience online can really make an impact.
  • Ask them! – One of the easiest ways to get your clients to leave reviews is just to ask them. In fact, most people will happily write reviews when asked.
  • Send follow-ups – After you’ve had a photoshoot with a client or, even better, after you’ve sent them their photos and they’re thrilled, you should always send a follow-up email or call to make sure that they were happy with their experience. This is the perfect time to include a link to the review sites you’re listed on (if you’re sending an email), or to request that they leave a review for you.

Respond to reviews.

In addition to generating more reviews, it’s also essential that you take the time to respond to them. You don’t necessarily need to respond to every single review/rating you get. For example, if there’s only a star rating and no content, there’s not really much for you to respond to without sounding canned. But if your client actually takes the time to really write about their experience and what it felt like to work with you, you should absolutely honor the time they’ve taken by giving them a response.

In a perfect world, every review would be five stars, but unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. Sometimes, negative reviews are inauthentic, downright fake or completely unfair; while other times, they represent the client’s very real experience with your business. Either way though, responding to your negative reviews is an absolute must from a reputation management standpoint. Here are a few rules to live by when managing your negative reviews:

  • Whatever you do, don’t ignore negative reviews. They’re not going to go away on their own, no matter how much you pretend they don’t exist.
  • Don’t wait to respond. When someone has a complaint, they want to feel heard, and you shouldn’t wait too long to help them feel heard. People expect responses in a timely manner, so don’t put off writing a response to a negative review. Plus, the longer you wait, the longer everyone else online only gets one side of the story, which can end up making your business look bad unfairly.
  • While it’s important to respond in a timely manner, if you need to, take a few minutes to gather your thoughts and cool off before responding to a review. The last thing you want is to respond out of anger. Doing this will only achieve making you look bad.
  • Apologize and take responsibility for the problem, even if it seems unfair or you deem that it isn’t your fault. The point of responding to a review is not so much to argue but to de-escalate a bad situation and show off your customer service skills.
  • Invite the client to take the conversation offline. Again, arguing with a reviewer publicly won’t win you any points and may make you look petty and small. That’s why, instead of going back and forth with them online, it’s a much better option to own the problem, apologize and then invite the client to call or email you personally to resolve the matter.

Get help!

These days, a business’ online reputation is everything. However, it can take a lot of time and energy that many busy photographers just don’t have. If you don’t have the resources to build the kind of online reputation for your business that you want, and don’t want to take time away from talking with clients, capturing the moment and editing, then your best bet may be to partner with someone who can help.

In addition to being able to dedicate themselves fully to keeping your business’ online reputation strong and freeing you up to do what you do best, hiring a professional to help you manage your online reputation means that you’ll have a whole new level of expertise on your side. Reputation managers understand how to help photographers reach their reputation goals online, and they also know how to navigate when things get a little tricky.

Are you looking for professional help with your online reputation? Learn more about working with a reputation manager today.

Start taking control of your online reputation with Top Rated Local.

Developing a strong online reputation is one of the best things any photographer can do for their business, and the best way to get started is by getting listed or claiming your Top Rated Local listing. With Top Rated Local, you’ll get real-time notifications when you get reviews, the ability to reply to your reviews, monthly email updates about your online reputation and so much more — all at no cost to you. Become the go-to Top Rated Local photographer in your area today!

Protecting Your Online Reputation Like a Pro

From negative reviews to data breaches, there are a lot of things that can damage your business’ online reputation.

Every business needs to know how to protect their online reputation.

Reputation management isn’t something that you do once and forget about. It’s something that you have to focus on every day. Staying vigilant is of the utmost importance when it comes to reputation management because there are many things that can endanger your online reputation and undo all of the hard work you’ve done over the years. Here are the biggest threats to your business’ online reputation:

  • Negative reviews – While you can control what kind of service you provide and how you take care of your customers or clients, you can’t control what they say about your business online. Negative reviews can be helpful to both businesses and consumers alike when they’re honest, but they can also do a lot of damage to a business’ online reputation.
  • Brand ambiguity – The last thing that a business wants is for a consumer not to be able to understand exactly what they do or what they have to offer. Brands with ambiguous names (think Apple) have the additional challenge of ensuring that their branding makes what they do clear.
  • Data breaches – According to Statista, in 2018, there were 1,244 data breaches and 446.5 million records were exposed. When a customer entrusts a business with their personal and financial information, they expect that information to be protected, which is why a data breach can greatly damage a brand’s trustworthiness in the eyes of consumers.
  • Unprofessional employee or CEO comments – Nothing can affect a business’ online reputation quite as much as the public comments of the employees or even the CEO. With Twitter, Facebook and the many other social media platforms out there, it’s easier than ever to air grievances and give opinions in a public way, but when you represent a business, that can lead to trouble.

These are just a few examples of the kind of things that can have a negative impact on your business’ online reputation, but you’ll be glad to know that there are also a lot of things you can do to help you protect your brand and keep it strong.

How to Protect Your Business’ Online Reputation

#1. Make customer service your top priority.

Good service is worth its weight in gold, and most people are even willing to pay more for it. When you make it your mission to provide next-level customer service, you don’t have to worry so much about negative reviews, because you’ll be a lot less likely to get them. And when a customer does have a complaint or negative feedback for your business, having finely tuned customer service skills will help you resolve the issue in the most effective possible way.

Ideally, you’ll help to provide your customers with solutions, answers and satisfaction during every part of the process. A great way to avoid negative reviews online is to make it a point to ask frequently about the customer’s experience during the process, as well as after the process is complete. You can’t read your customers’ minds, but you can ask how they feel about their experience with you and make it clear to them that you really do care.

#2. Get more reviews.

For the most part, businesses that are genuinely interested in doing a good job for their customers instead of just making a buck will mostly have positive reviews. However, mistakes happen, as does miscommunication and misunderstanding, which can all lead to a negative customer experience and a negative review. Luckily, those will likely be few and far between, and if you can generate more reviews from your happy customers, they’ll help to drown out any negative reviews you might receive. Here are a few ideas to help you generate more reviews for your business:

  • Ask! – The easiest way to get reviews for your business is also the simplest way — all you have to do is ask! Unfortunately, most people won’t write reviews on their own, but the vast majority of them will write one when asked.
  • Explain why it’s important – People often don’t write reviews because they don’t understand how valuable they can be for the business in question as well as for consumers doing research about which business to work with. It never hurts to educate your clients on how big of a difference writing reviews can make.
  • Send out automatic review requests – Getting in the habit of asking every client to leave a review every time can be daunting, but the good news is that there are plenty of ways to automate review requests, including follow-up emails and working with a review generating company.
  • Incentive reviews – This can be tricky, as incentivizing reviews can easily look like buying them, which is definitely unethical and against the rules of many review platforms. That’s why it’s important to incentivize every client to write a review, not just the happy ones, and you should never try to push for a specific star rating or for a certain kind of content.

#3. Respond to reviews promptly.

You can’t write your customers’ reviews for them, and it’s unethical and against the rules to try to persuade them to give you a certain kind of review. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re powerless. In fact, one of the most powerful ways to deal with a one-star review is not to try to get it removed or hidden, but to embrace it, learn from it and respond to it.

Although it’s important to respond to every review you get (after all, the client did take the time to write it for you and at least deserve to be thanked), there’s almost nothing more important to your online reputation than responding to negative reviews. When you respond, you’re able to share your side of the story and to demonstrate to the client (as well as any potential clients that see your response) that you are listening, that you truly care about meeting their needs and providing the very best customer experience, and that you’re willing to own up to your mistakes.

Whatever you do, don’t try to fight a negative review in your response, even if you feel that the review was fake, dishonest or unfair. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) take responsibility for a negative experience that wasn’t your fault, but your response is not the place to fight back. If you do, you’ll come across as petty and immature. The correct way to deal with situations like these is to apologize that they had a poor experience and offer to discuss the matter further personally. You should, of course, also let them know how they can get ahold of you to talk more.

The other part of responding to reviews is doing so promptly. The longer you leave a negative review just sitting there, the more credence it has and the more damage it can do to your online reputation. This doesn’t mean that you should respond to the review right away if you’re feeling defensive or upset about it; it’s always a good thing to cool off and not let your emotions take the wheel. Give yourself a minute or two to gather your thoughts and simmer your emotions, but don’t take too long to respond, or people will think that you don’t care about or aren’t paying attention to reviews.

#4. Be on alert.

When something negative is said about your business online, it won’t help matters if you don’t address it promptly. However, you can’t possibly respond or work to fix the problem if you don’t know that it exists. This is why it’s essential that businesses are on alert when it comes to online reputation. But how? It’s not as if your business is on one review site or one directory. The fact is that there are lots of places negative content about your business could be published, and the task of staying on top of all of it can seem daunting to say the least. Luckily, Top Rated Local® can help.

Top Rated Local is not a typical review platform; it’s more of an all-encompassing reputation platform. Yes, verified customers can and do write reviews on Top Rated Local itself, but it also pulls reviews in from any verified rating source a business is listed on, which could include Google, Facebook, Yelp, The Knot, etc. Additionally, Top Rated Local makes it easy to get a clear idea of a business’ overall online reputation with the Rating Score™ system.

A business’ Rating Score is calculated based on a wide range of variables, including the number of review sites the business is listed on, the number of reviews a business has, a business’ average star rating across review sites and more. The Rating Score is an excellent tool that businesses can use to gain a higher level understanding of where their reputation is at online, and it’s a great tool for consumers, too, because it helps them to choose the right business overall, not just the highest-rated business on Yelp.

Becoming a Top Rated Local business (and claiming your listing on Top Rated Local) also gives business owners several tools to help them keep track of their online reputation. These include real-time notifications when a business receives new reviews and monthly updates with information about a business’ overall online reputation.

In addition to becoming a Top Rated Local business, you can also stay on top of your online reputation by signing up for Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, you’ll be notified when your brand gets mentioned, but you can also set up notifications to help you learn what people are saying about your competitors. Furthermore, Google Alerts are free and can be sent at whatever frequency you desire, from daily to monthly.

#4. Secure your brand name.

Your brand name is arguably the most important part of your brand, but if you don’t take the proper steps, someone may end up using it against you.

If you haven’t already, it’s important that you register a website with your business name as the domain — for example, BeautifulSmilesDentistry.com. This is one of the most powerful ways that you can protect your reputation online, because it helps to prevent other people (as well as your competitors) from stealing this essential piece of real estate from you and potentially even using it against you.

Registering your business name as a domain is critical, but you shouldn’t stop there. It’s also important to secure your brand name across all of your social media platforms. The last thing that you want is for someone with malicious intent to be able to pose as your business on Twitter or Instagram, and the best way to prevent that from happening is by securing your business name on social media.

If you want to truly control the conversation surrounding your brand, you’re going to need to be able to fill up all 10 spots on page one of the SERP (search engine results pages) when your business name is googled. Your website can only take up one of those spaces, and securing your brand name across several social media sites can go a long way toward filling up the other nine spots on page one.

#5. Prioritize publishing content.

Reputation management is about controlling the conversation that’s centered around your brand, and a big part of that is determined by what ranks when your brand name or another targeted keyword is searched online. In an ideal world, securing your brand name across your website and social media profiles would be enough to ensure that you rank well for what you want to, but there’s a little more to the story than that.

The truth is that securing your brand name is just the first step to achieving SERP domination; you also have to be willing to publish content regularly on your website and social media platforms. This may look like publishing articles or blogs on your website, posting tutorials and other videos on YouTube, or even sharing behind-the-scenes images from your business on Instagram.

Another great way to control the conversation about your brand is to publish press releases regularly. Press releases are the perfect way to announce upcoming sales, events and other goings-on at your business. Plus, the more content out there that you control, the farther down in the SERP negative content about your business will rank.

The benefits of posting content regularly are many. Not only does publishing content more often help to ensure that your website and social media pages rank in the SERP, but it also helps to establish your business as an authority in your industry. As an industry expert, you have a lot of knowledge to share, and when you publish content regularly that’s informative, in-depth and helps answer questions your clients have, it helps to build trust in your brand.

Don’t wait until a crisis occurs to start managing your online reputation.

Taking a proactive approach to reputation management with the above steps is far preferable than waiting for disaster to strike. An effective crisis management strategy starts long before a crisis occurs. Waiting for a crisis to act or being reactive with your reputation management strategy is a surefire way to endanger your business’ online reputation.

If you’re ready to start taking a proactive approach to reputation management, the best way to get started is to sign up for Top Rated Local and/or claim your listing. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll enjoy a long list of benefits, including the ability to reply to reviews, a prioritized profile ranking on Google, a Top Rated Local badge that you can display on your website and more frequent updates to your Rating Score. Become a Top Rated Local business today!

Maintaining a Strong Online Reputation This Holiday Season

During the holidays, it’s more important than ever to have a strong online reputation.

‘Tis the season to get your business’ online reputation in order.

Every store you turn to is playing holiday music. Lights sparkle on homes. Eggnog is in stock once again. In other words, the holidays are finally here at last.

The holiday season is a busy time of the year for most businesses, and not just retail. People want to look their best for holiday photos, leading to an increase in business for barber shops and beauty salons. People host their out-of-town family members, giving local restaurants more business and the need for plumbers to unclog more toilets. People get a little stressed by all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, which leads them to treat themselves with a massage or a trip to their favorite nail salon.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of business to be had over the holiday season, and if you want to cash in on some of that business, you need your business to be found online and you also need to have the right kind of online reputation behind you to encourage your customers to keep choosing you, and to encourage new customers to choose you, too.

10 Reputation Management Tips for the Holiday Season

#1. Make sure that your staff is ready.

The holiday season leads to an increase in activity for your business, and it’s essential that you know that your staff is ready to handle it. This might mean that it’s time to hire a little extra help for the holidays. Not only does seasonal help enable you to handle a greater number of customers, but it also frees up more of your time to focus on your online reputation. Seasonal help can make it easier to survive during the holidays, and employing seasonal employees gives them a few extra dollars to help them create holiday bliss.

In addition to making sure that you have the appropriate number of people to help your staff, you should also ensure that your staff is trained properly to handle the increase in business. It won’t help very much to have more staff members if they are constantly turning to with questions or guidance. Make sure that every member of your staff is properly trained and as dedicated as possible to providing a great experience for your customers.

#2. Manage/claim your listings.

One of the most important aspects of reputation management is managing and claiming your business listings across any and every review platform and/or directory site that it’s listed on. This is something that you should make a point of doing as soon as you can — holiday season or not — as it’s a key part of ensuring that your business stays successful online.

If your business is already listed on review sites and/or directories, what’s the point of claiming or managing your listings? The algorithms that pull information into these directory sites and review sites don’t always get it right, and it’s essential that you make sure that the information out there about your business is accurate. If someone sees an outdated listing on Yelp or Facebook and tries to get ahold of you, it doesn’t send a very good message when the number listed no longer works or when they drive to your old location only discover that you’ve already moved.

#3. Stay relevant by posting content regularly.

Businesses these days absolutely have to stay relevant if they want to stay in the public eye, which is essential during this time of the year. When your customers have a need that you can meet, you want your business’ name to be the first thing they think of, and one of the best ways to ensure that that happens is to post content regularly on your website and social media platforms.

Ensure that your business ranks highly in the SERP (search engine results pages) so that you can be found when people google related search keywords by blogging regularly. Keep consumers in the know about any up-and-coming sales or events you may be having by publishing a press release. Stay in contact with your customers and help them see the personal side of your business by posting on social media.

#4. Make customer service a top priority.

The holiday season is the perfect time of the year to show off your customer service skills, and when you have so many customers to work with, it can lead to an increase in reviews for your business, both good and bad. And the kind of customer service you provide will have a direct impact on the kind of reviews your business gets during the holidays.

In addition to helping you get more reviews during the holidays, by focusing on customer service, you can also help to increase customer loyalty, which leads to an increase in spending and a decrease in the need for customers to look elsewhere.

#5. Start a campaign to generate more reviews.

Reviews are the bread and butter of a business’ online reputation, and the more reviews you can get, the better off your business will be. The holidays are a great time of the year to generate more reviews for your business because of the increase in customers you’re likely to receive, and there are a lot of simple things you can do to encourage your customers to leave you more reviews this holiday season:

  • Ask for feedback – The simplest way to get more reviews for your business is simply to ask. Sadly, most people won’t write reviews on their own no matter what kind of service you provide, but when you ask, more people are more than happy to leave a review.
  • Send follow-up emails – After someone has shopped with you or relied on you for service, send an email following up about their experience. This is also a good opportunity to send customers a link to the review sites you prefer they use.
  • Make it convenient for them – The easier you can make leaving your business a review, the more likely your customers will leave you a review. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your business is listed on a variety of sites, so that your customers don’t have to set up a profile on a new review site in order to review you. Another way to make the process convenient is to have a tablet in your shop that customers can use to leave you a review in the moment, which means that you don’t have to rely on them to leave you a review on their own later on.

#6. Respond to your reviews.

When your customers take the time to write a review for your business, it behooves you to wait a few minutes to respond to them, especially if the review is negative, the customer asked a question in the review, there was a complaint or the review consisted of particularly kind feedback. If someone leaves you a blank review with five stars, there’s no reason to respond, but when someone shares their genuine experience with your business, making it a point to respond will show them that you appreciate them.

Not all responses to reviews are made equal, and if you want to make a good impression, it’s important to get your response right. Here are a few tips to help you respond to reviews like a pro:

  • Don’t wait; respond promptly. Believe it or not, a lot of people expect a response to their review within a few days, so make sure that you don’t put it off for too long.
  • Whether the review is negative or positive, always thank the customer for making it a point to write it in the first place.
  • If the review is negative, it’s important to apologize, and that’s true regardless of whether the review paints an accurate picture of what really happened or not.
  • Don’t argue online. Whatever you do, don’t get into an argument with someone reviewing your business online, even if you don’t think the review was fair. Instead, give them your contact information and invite them to call you to discuss the matter further online.

#7. Interact with your clients through social media.

As we mentioned previously, posting content to your website and social media profiles is a great way to stay relevant over the holidays, but posting content is just one part of a healthy social media management strategy. You also need to regularly monitor your social media profiles so that you can respond to any feedback or customer interaction online, and you’ll be in the know about what people are saying about your business on social media.

Whether people are interacting with your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, it’s important to give them a little love. When you interact on social media, you’ll be demonstrating that you truly care. Not only that, but your customers expect for you to interact with them online, and in a timely fashion. When a customer interacts with you through Facebook, they expect a response within six hours, and when someone interacts with you through Twitter, they expect a response within just an hour.

#8. Keep your emotions in check.

Emotions run high during the holiday season. Feelings of depression, anxiety and family discord are all magnified during the holidays, making everything just a bit more challenging. On top of that, a lot of people thrive on the holiday parties and excitement, which means that your emotions might be running the gamut, and it can be more difficult to keep them in check and act professionally day to day.

But regardless of whether you’re writing a blog for your website, designing a social media post or responding to a negative review, whatever you do, keep those emotions in check. This is especially tricky when you’re dealing with feedback online that you may deem unfair, inauthentic or downright fake, and the last thing you need is to get into an emotional brawl with someone online for the world to see.

Although people expect a response in a timely manner when they interact with your business on review sites or social media, it’s important not to rush your response, especially if you’re feeling emotional. You’re better off taking a breath and collecting your thoughts than jumping into an emotional response that will only accomplish making you look bad online.

#9. Be in the know.

The more you know about your business’ online reputation as a whole, the better you’ll be able to manage it and make it as strong as possible. But with your business listed on so many different sites, how can you possibly keep track of all of them? Luckily, Top Rated Local has a solution for you.

Top Rated Local is not like any other review site out there. When consumers are checking out a business on Top Rated Local, not only will they be able to read the business’ Top Rated Local reviews, but they’ll also be able to read that business’ reviews from Yelp, Google, Facebook and a long list of other verified review sources. Top Rated Local also provides each business with its own Rating Score™ (with 100.00 being the highest), which is determined by the number of review sites the business is listed on, the number of reviews they have and the average star rating of their reviews, among other things. With the Rating Score, consumers can get a good idea of how a business stacks up against their competition and businesses can keep a pulse on their online reputation easily.

Another thing you can do to keep a close eye on your business’ online reputation is to set up Google Alerts, which will keep you in the know about conversations surrounding your business. Google Alerts are free, quick to set up, easy to use and can be delivered every time your brand gets mentioned, once a day or even once a month. In addition to monitoring your brand, you can also use Google Alerts to monitor what people are saying about your competitor’s subjects of interest and questions in your industry and more.

#10. Consider hiring a professional to manage your online reputation.

The fact of the matter is that building and managing your business’ online reputation takes money, attention and — hardest of all to find — time, and that’s especially true during the holiday season when reputation management becomes a priority. The last thing that you want is to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and leave your online reputation in the dust, and by when you hire a professional, you’ll get the help you need to get all of your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed without dropping a single ball.

When you hire an experienced reputation manager for your business, you can ensure that your business is always putting its best foot forward online, your business could become more of an authority in your industry, you’ll gain powerful insights into your reputation management strategy and you’ll likely see an increase in sales! The benefits of hiring a reputation manager can’t be overlooked, but the biggest reason to get some help is that it frees up more of your time to manage your business, help your customers and do everything else on your ever-growing to-do list.

Are you interested in learning more about hiring a professional reputation manager to work with your business? Get started today!

Become a Top Rated Local business today!

With so many people out there looking to spend a little money this holiday season, it’s the perfect time to start building and maintaining the kind of online reputation you want. And when you have Top Rated Local on your side — including the invaluable tools, like the five pillars of the customer experience, real-time review notifications, the ability to respond to your reviews, monthly email updates about your online reputation, syndicated reviews on Google Maps and the one-of-a-kind Rating Score — you’ll be able to manage your business’ online reputation from one convenient place.

And the best part about joining Top Rated Local (or claiming your profile if you already have one) is that you get all of this without having to spend a dime. That’s right, signing up for Top Rated Local is absolutely free. Sign up today!

The Importance of Online Reputation for Family Doctors

The Importance of Online Reputation for Family Doctors

While a doctor’s service and interaction with their clients will happen almost entirely in-person, their online reputation is still critically important when it comes to attracting new patients and keeping old ones engaged. More than ever, people are trusting online reviews as their go-to when it comes to trusting businesses. If your online reputation is lacking, you will likely be losing out on some valuable business. Even medical practices who have gotten a steady stream of business thanks to in-network care can still see negative effects from having a less-than-stellar online reputation. In a recent survey done by Doctors.com, they found that approximately 80 percent of respondents have used the internet for healthcare-related searches, and that 63 percent will choose one provider over another based on their online reputation. That means that your online reputation is enough to influence your potential future patients’ decisions, and though many doctors get their new patients through network referrals, those patients are not likely to stick with you if your reviews are negative. In fact, in a 2016 survey, 48 percent of respondents said that they would choose to go out of network in order to see a provider that had better reviews than an in-network provider. All that being said, your online reputation matters now more than ever. If you have never taken the time to check on where your reputation currently stands, it can seem like a daunting task, but it is important to take that leap and take control of how your business is seen by your online audience.

We have compiled a list of our top five tips for managing your online reputation as a family doctor.

Find out where your reputation stands

To begin your journey towards a stellar reputation, start by finding out where your business currently stands. Claim your business online; it’s free, easy, and there’s no better way to get your finger on the pulse of what people are saying about you. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential consumers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real, and by giving you the power to make sure that basic information. like your phone number, address, and business name, is updated and correct. This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable, and both of those options are no good for business, especially for a family doctor, where reliability tends to be one of the traits people value the most. Claiming your profiles can also help to boost your SEO (search engine optimization) rankings by providing details about your company and providing links back to your website and social media profiles. By having links from trusted sites point back to your website, you ultimately have a better chance of gaining a higher ranking in the search results. Another added benefit of claiming your profiles is that you can easily respond to your reviews. We highly recommend responding to all reviews, positive and negative, because doing so shows your audience that you are present and that care about what they have to say.

Ask for reviews and feedback

The long and short of it is businesses need reviews in order to thrive. While that is true regardless of industry, that is especially important for doctors. Many people feel nervous about going to the doctor, and seeing positive, or negative, reviews about your practice can make or break a person’s decision to become your patient. Some business owners don’t feel good about asking for reviews, but there is absolutely no shame in doing so, especially when you share with your customers how valuable their feedback is. Most people won’t write a review on their own, but according to a 2016 survey, 70 percent of customers said that if they were asked to leave a review for a business, they would. So, at the end of a visit, when a patient is thanking you for quick and compassionate care, or telling you how great your staff is or how welcoming your waiting room is, it is perfectly acceptable to tell them that the best way they can thank you is by leaving a review online. When asking for a review, you want to shy away from pushing or asking for a five-star review. It’s important to hear about your patients’ genuine experiences, so we recommend asking every patient for their feedback, and wording your request in that way. While asking for feedback in-person is a great start, there are a few other ways to kindly remind or prompt your patients to give you their feedback. One of those ways is through an email follow-up, where you can even go so far as to link your preferred review sites. Another great way to ask for feedback is through hand-written notes! This could be in the form of a thank-you note, a seasonal or holiday greeting, or a birthday card. People appreciate the time and effort it takes to write and send a letter, and even if they don’t end up writing a review, they will be more likely to refer you to a family member or friend and remember your practice when it comes time for them to get medical services.

Monitor and respond to your reviews

Once the reviews start pouring in, it’s important for you to be proactive about responding to them. Doing so boosts your credibility and likeability in the eyes of your audience. When you get a positive review, make sure to thank that patient for taking the time to leave you some feedback. When a negative review comes in, don’t panic. Though it may feel like a personal attack, people who leave negative reviews are usually feeling pretty bad, and that likely stems from feeling unheard, disregarded, or somehow not taken care of. It’s important to show your audience that you are receptive to all forms of feedback, and that you value the opportunity to improve your business or fix a bad situation. Simply responding to reviews is enough to show your audience that there is someone real on the other side of the screen who is paying attention to them. In a previous article, we outlined some of the best ways to handle your negative reviews. It is important to keep in mind that however you choose to respond and engage with your online audience, you must stay in compliance with HIPAA.

Learn how to navigate HIPAA when responding to your reviews

In the healthcare industry, it is important to remember that you have HIPAA to contend with, and that can be tricky land to navigate when it comes to responding to reviews online.

If you are worried about violating HIPAA when responding to your business’ online reviews, we suggest starting out by having a template you can draw from for both positive and negative reviews. First, you need to know what you can and can’t say, and then, you need to show your clients that you genuinely care about their experience, whether that experience was positive or negative. Even in the case of a positive review, it is important that you cannot confirm or give details about anyone’s time as a patient.

Keeping in mind that you need to avoid posting any information that identifies or confirms someone as a patient, saying something like, “I am sorry you had to wait longer than anticipated before being seen,” is in violation of HIPAA, as is, “I’m so glad you loved your experience with Dr. Mendoza!” Both of these phrases confirm that the person who left the review did, in fact, visit your practice as a patient.

When it comes to responding to a negative review, you could try something more like this:

“We strive to provide our patients with the best quality care and experience, and your feedback could help us improve. Please call our office at xxx-xxx-xxxx, and we will make the time to personally address any concerns.”

With this, you have shown a personal investment in the experience of your patients; you have highlighted a value that you hope to uphold or have shown your patients the way you hope to be known or are otherwise known; you have shown that you value feedback and are open to growth; you have shown future clients that you value online reviews, and you have not violated any of HIPAA’s privacy laws!

While not necessary, you could also feel free to mention HIPAA in your response. This might serve as a reminder to the reviewer that their concerns will not be solved or addressed further online, prompting them to take the conversation offline, as requested. If you wanted to mention HIPAA, you could add to your response:

“Due to HIPAA privacy laws, we cannot address your concerns publically, but we do want to connect with you and look forward to hearing from you.”

Inviting a patient to address their concerns offline shows them that you value them and their feedback. Oftentimes, when someone has negative feedback, their bad experience comes from a place of not feeling heard or valued. Use this opportunity to show them that this is not the case. Your actions could result in the person removing the negative review, updating it, or even becoming a loyal patient

Positive reviews deserve a little attention, too. A quick, HIPAA-safe response to a positive review shows your patients that you are paying attention to their feedback and care about them and their experience. One response could look like:

“Thank you for this feedback. We always strive to deliver the best in quality care, and we love to hear about positive experiences.”


“We value this positive feedback, and love to know when we’re doing something right. We try to always uphold our commitment to offering great value and excellent service. Thank you!”

Of course, you don’t want to copy and paste the same exact response to every single review and comment you receive, but hopefully, these templates can give you a place to start, so that you can feel confident and comfortable navigating the restrictions of HIPAA online. Remember to always be polite and professional, and to set an appropriate tone to any response you give.

Maintain a regular social media presence

Keeping an updated and interesting presence on social media is an effective way to keep in touch with your audience, earn some organic search traffic, and even give you some credibility as an expert in your field. Social media doesn’t have to be all selfies and hashtags; it can be a valuable way to show off what’s new and upcoming in your practice, highlight your exceptional staff, or even be a place where you publish articles specific to your industry. Especially in the medical field, you can show your patients that you are keeping up with the current trends and studies in the world of health and medicine, which is really important for many patients’ peace of mind! By doing this, you are not only providing useful and engaging content, but you are also establishing yourself as a leader in the industry. Maintaining a regular social media presence keeps you fresh in the eyes of your patients and gives them some familiarity with you and your practice. This might give them some extra incentive to leave you some positive feedback or share your profile with others. You can also lean into the fun side of social media and host giveaways, post silly photos, or share a bit about the behind-the-scenes life of your employees. This kind of post humanizes your practice and shows that you are fun and engaging, which can help to ease the nerves of patients who might be nervous about visits to the doctor.

We hope that these tips have been helpful to you and your business. If you are feeling ready to tackle your online reputation, we recommend getting started by claiming your business on Top Rated Local today!

How to Show Your Customers How Thankful You are for Them

Without your customers, your business would be up the creek without a paddle.

This year, show your customers just how grateful you are for them.

Regardless of what industry your business is in, or how big or small it is, your customers are the lifeblood of your business. You rely on your customers day in and day out, and when they show you loyalty, going out of your way to show how grateful you are can go a long way.

Not only will showing your customers how thankful you are for them help to encourage them to keep coming back to you instead of your competition, but when you go out of your way to show that you care, it will also encourage them to leave reviews for your business online. Every business needs reviews. Let’s face it; gone are the days when people would ask their friends and family for recommendations when looking for a local business. These days, most prospective customers research local businesses online instead, and if you don’t have any reviews, the fact of the matter is that you’re missing out on business.

In addition to helping you attract new customers online, reviews also help to make your business more visible online by improving your rankings.

The bottom line is that it pays to show gratitude for your customers, and we’ve come up with a long list of ways to do just that!

10 Ways to Show How Thankful You are for Your Customers

#1. Provide next-level customer service.

One of the best ways to show your customers how thankful you are for giving you their business is to go above and beyond when it comes to customer service. Go out of your way to ensure that, regardless of whether they’ll be spending a lot of money or a little money with you, they’ll always get an unbeatable experience with your business.

How does providing good customer service show your appreciation when it’s something you should be doing anyway? Customer service isn’t always focused on by all businesses, and the ones that do focus on it don’t always focus on it enough. And you’ll be surprised at what a difference it can make to simply take the time to listen to your customers and to follow up with them to ensure that their needs have been met.

Furthermore, consumers highly value customer service, and many of them will even be willing to pay more for it. In fact, 86 percent of consumers say they’d be willing to pay up to 25 percent more for the same service in order to get superior customer service.

#2. Politely educate your customers.

From plumbers and electricians to financial advisers and real estate brokers, local businesses are littered with industry experts with a wealth of knowledge to share. And if you really want to impress upon your customers just how thankful you are for them, then it behooves you to share some of that knowledge with them! This doesn’t mean that you have to — for example — give a client a crash-course in replacing knob-tube wiring, but it’s important that they understand why it’s important to replace it.

No one wants to feel stupid or like the wool is being pulled over their eyes, and that can, unfortunately, be how a customer might perceive the situation if you don’t take the time to educate them on the problem, as well as on the various options available to them to solve the problem.

When it comes to educating your customers, it’s important to talk to them on their level. You should never talk down to your customers, but it’s equally important that you don’t overcomplicate the situation by using a lot of industry jargon that no one can understand. Be honest and straightforward without using more detail than you have to, while still ensuring that they’re well-informed in the end.

One great way to educate your customers (and to gain exposure and attract new customers) is to host a class or a tutorial on something related to your industry. For example, if you’re an electrician, you could host a class on holiday lighting safety.

#3. Say thank you in person.

So you want to say thank you to your customers? Hands down, the simplest and — arguably — the most effective way to say thank you is to literally say thank you at the time that service is rendered and in person.

Almost nothing is more meaningful for people than a heartfelt thank you, and the fact that you took the time to express your appreciation will show your customers just how genuine you are. Saying thank you will also have a big impact on your clients and help to make the experience you’ve provided a memorable one.

#4. Remember who they are.

Depending on what kind of business you are in, it may or may not be possible to remember all or even most of your customers, but the more you can remember about who your customers are, the more of an impact you’ll make, and the more appreciated your customers will feel.

Remembering your customers’ names and/or what they like to order or how best to interact with them is a great way to separate a business from the pack. However, this is easier said than done for businesses that work with a high volume of customers, but even in this case, you could keep track of something simple, like their birthday, and send out birthday wishes by mail or email.

#5. Host a customer appreciation event.

People love to be wined and dined, which makes hosting an event for your customers — both past and current — a truly wonderful way to show your customers how thankful you are for them. Does the idea of throwing a big party for your clients sound exhausting and downright expensive? There are a lot of different ways you could honor your clients with an event, including:

  • A picnic
  • A lunch and learn
  • A beer/wine and cheese pairing
  • A yoga or art class
  • An event featuring a renowned speaker

Hosting an event may cost more than many of the other options we’ve discussed so far, but it can have far-reaching impacts for your business in more ways than one. In addition to saying thank you in a meaningful way to your customers — helping you create customers for life — hosting an event will help your customers get to know you in a new way and will help to attract new customers to your business. So yes, it may cost more and take more time to host an event, but if done right, it can certainly be a net-positive for your business.

#6. Create a loyalty program.

One of the biggest benefits of genuinely thanking your customers on a regular basis is the long-term service it helps to earn. The fact is that it’s much cheaper to hang onto your existing customers than it is to put forth the cost and effort to attract new ones. Plus, long-term customers tend to spend more than new customers, creating even more value for you.

Those long-term customers don’t happen overnight, and a loyal customer today can easily become your competition’s customer if you don’t make sticking with you worth their while. And one of the best ways to do that is to inspire continued loyalty with a loyalty program!

Create a VIP program for your long-term customers to reward them for sticking with you for so long. With this program, you could offer your customers discounts or free services, an invitation to select events, access to premier services, regular check-ins from management, gift cards, etc.

#7. Listen to and respond to feedback.

A big part of appreciating your customers is making sure that, when they have feedback, you take the time to listen to that feedback fully and take it to heart. The fact of the matter is that people like to be heard. And when someone has a complaint about your business, they want to know that someone is there to hear it.

Listening is just the first step; you also have to show your customers that they’ve been heard by enacting change. This may mean big, sweeping change, like putting a new policy in place or replacing an old piece of equipment, but it could also mean making a small change, like additional training with an employee.

Listening and responding to feedback should be done whether the feedback is given in person or online in the form of a review, and if you play your cards right, it can could end up with you earning long-term loyalty from the customer in question, as well as anyone who has read the negative review and your response to it.

#8. Give them some love on social media.

Every business needs an active social media presence, which means that posting on a regular basis is a must. The problem is that it’s not always so easy to figure out what to post. After all, there are only so many tricks and tips you can share that are relevant to your business. Luckily, you can both fill up some of those posts and demonstrate your appreciation for your customers by giving them some love on social media. Before you post about a customer, though, it’s important that you ALWAYS ask for their permission first.

Not only should you use social media to say thank you to your customers, but you should also encourage your customers to interact with you more on social media and to say thank you to those customers who already interact with you. When a customer “likes,” comments on or shares one of your posts on social media, or they start following you, offer them freebies, swag or discounts to say thanks!

#9. Surprise them with swag!

Nothing says “thanks” quite like a physical gift does, and whether a gift is given on a special occasion, like a birthday or a holiday, or it’s given after a customer has reached a certain milestone, i.e. years of service, money spent or number of service calls, it can have a big impact. There are so many great gift ideas that won’t break the bank and can make an impact, including tasty treats, flowers, cards, phonebooks or organizers, stamps, etc. But nothing makes a better gift than swag.

Swag, like pens, sticky notes, t-shirts, koozies, bottle openers, keychains, bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets and so much more, makes such a great gift because it’s often something useful and it has the added benefit of having your name on it! Every time your customer sips a beer out of their koozie or jots a note down with their pen, they’ll see your brand, reminding them that you exist and keeping you fresh in their mind.

Take the first step toward getting the swag you need today!

#10. Give back to your community.

Your customer base is made up of the people who live and work in your community, so when you give back to your community, you’re also giving back to your customers. You’re also making a name for your business as one that truly cares and is dedicated to making a difference in the world.

There are a number of ways that you could choose to give back to your community. You could sponsor a local team or make a donation of gear or equipment to a local school or retirement community. You could organize a paid day of volunteer work for your employees to build a home, work in a soup kitchen or even help to run an event. You could donate a portion of your profits to a cause that’s near and dear to your heart.

There are so many things you can do to make your community — and the world — a better place, and it can make your customers feel appreciated and like you truly care about their needs. Plus, you get the extra brownie points that come with the good publicity that giving back earns our business.

Become a Top Rated Local business today!

As we discussed, one of the easiest things you can do to show your customers how thankful you are for them is to respond when they have feedback, especially when that feedback is a review. When you sign up to become a Top Rated Local business, you’ll get real-time notifications of new reviews, giving you the ability to respond promptly to your customers’ feedback. Best of all, becoming a Top Rated Local is easy and free! Get started today!

Five Easy Ways To Make Your Small Business Stand Out On Black Friday

Five Easy Ways To Make Your Small Business Stand Out On Black Friday

Black Friday, the unofficial kickoff to shopping season, is finally upon us. Traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, for many, the upcoming season can make up the majority of a business’ yearly revenue. So, you’ve got your inventory stocked, your shop cleaned up, and your staff caffeinated. The competition is fierce, especially with retail giants and online shopping, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact on your shoppers. We’re going to outline a few simple ways you can stand out to all the busy, likely stressed, shoppers that visit your store. It can be easy to let a day this bustling with energy rush by in a blur of customers and transactions, but remember that you have a chance to show off what makes your store so wonderful and worth facing the crowds for.

Know your product

You have a significant advantage over online retailers here. If people have a question about a product, if a customer wants to see an example of what they are purchasing, or if they want to know what a product looks like in another color, you have the opportunity to talk with them, show them, and interact with them. You and your staff get to be the experts here, and it is important that you establish trust with your clients by showing them that you are knowledgeable and prepared.

Practice the basics

Today more than ever, you will need to showcase your finest customer service skills. You’re busy and people are stressed, so taking the time to show them that you are willing to give them individualized care and attention will stand out that much more to your customers. These might sound like the basics, but it is more important than ever to maintain and practice them. To start, smile, or at the very least, be friendly and genuine. Make eye contact when you talk to people to show them that you are engaged and listening to them. It is important that your customers feel seen and heard, as that can make a world of difference in their overall experience. Introduce yourself and try to use people’s names when you speak with them. This added level of personalized attention will put you leagues ahead of any online retailer.

Share on social media

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share content and show off the excitement of the day! Now is a great time to show your followers that people are turning up and getting what they want from your store. This might just be the motivation someone needs to get up and out of the house and into your store. This can also help you set the tone for the kind of reputation you want your business to have. Are you guys fun and silly? Genuine? You can use this day to show your audience that that is who you really are, even on what might just be the most stressful day of the year.

Say thank you

Remember to thank your customers for their support. In today’s world, it would be very easy for them to do business at a chain retailer or online, so it means something that they chose to support you. The least you could do is tell them as much. Offering some gratitude is simple, meaningful, and most likely genuine. This one-on-one attention and care might be the reason they chose to shop at a business like yours instead of at one of the chains.

Ask for feedback

Black Friday and the approaching shopping season means an influx in traffic, and each of those customers should be reminded that you would love to get their feedback online. Ideally, you will get a huge boost in your online reviews, ultimately helping out your search engine optimization, your online presence, and your overall reputation. By remembering to provide the kind of service and attention that nobody is expecting on a day as busy as Black Friday, you’re sure to stand out in peoples’ minds as being a five-star establishment worthy of a five-star rating.

We here at Top Rated Local wish the best to you, your business, and your customers during this busy season!

A Feast Of Reputation Management Facts To Be Thankful For

In preparation for the approaching holiday, we have spent our day prepping a bountiful harvest of reputation management facts for your feasting pleasure.

Side Dishes

Not to be overshadowed by a giant bird, side dished bring the flavor, the top-secret family recipes, and the piles of second-helpings. We all know that side dishes are everyone’s favorite part of this whole affair. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, creamed spinach, fresh biscuits…these are the true heroes of your typical Thanksgiving dinner. Much like those much-loved meal starters, these facts and stats are here to jumpstart your appetite and get you ready for the main event.

There’s never been a better or more important time to make sure your business stands out! In fact…

    • 82 percent of smartphone shoppers are doing searches, including the phrase ‘near me’, a number that has increased by 900 percent over the last two years.

It’s more important ever to make sure that, when people are looking for a product or service you provide, you show up in their search! People WANT to support local businesses, but if they can’t find you, you might as well not exist.

    • Seven out of 10 customers will visit a business based on the information they find online.

Check-in on your website and make sure that all of the information there is up-to-date. If your phone number or address is wrong, that won’t give a potential customer much hope that you can get anything else right. Also, be sure to claim your listings! There’s no simpler way to stay on top of your reviews and make sure your contact information is correct across the board.

    • Sixty-nine percent of job seekers are likely to reject a job offer from a company with a bad reputation.

Your online reputation doesn’t just affect potential sales and customer opinions, but it can also determine the quality of candidates you have to hire from. Nobody wants to associate themselves with a company that has a bad reputation, and if they do, are they really the kind of qualified employee you are hoping for?

    • Fifty percent of potential sales are lost because consumers can’t find the information they are looking for.

I cannot stress enough how important it is that the information on your website is accurate, up to date, and easy to understand. If for no other reason, this stat alone should serve as a pretty alarming wake-up call. Nowadays, there are plenty of services that can help you create an awesome website that will not only impress potential customers, but will also provide them with the information they need to feel comfortable putting their trust in you and your business.

Main Course

Now that we’ve awakened our palates and enjoyed some tasty, if eclectic, tidbits, it’s time for the main course. Like the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, these stats are hefty, and really pack a wallop. Unbutton that top button, carve into these statistics, and load up your plate with a heaping portion of reputation management facts. Watch out for that tryptophan.

    • Worldwide, Google leads the pack with a whopping 92 percent share of all search engine traffic.

While it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that Google is the leading search engine, it’s important to remember not to ignore that other 8%. If anything, this stat highlights how important it is to check on and update your profiles across the board. This stat also acts as a glaring reminder that, if your business doesn’t show up on Google, you need to work on improving your standings in the SERP (search engine results pages).

Your website isn’t the only way you can reach a broader audience. By using social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, more people will be able to interact with you, share your business page, and see your content. Having a strong presence online is necessary in order to stand out and be seen.

    • Ninety-two percent of searchers will choose a business on the first page of local search results.

Google’s algorithms are ranking you based on the quality and length of the content on your page, your inbound links, your keywords, and a host of other factors. Very few people will continue their search past the first page, so it is important to do what you can to show up on top.

    • Ninety-one percent of customers ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.

Your reviews matter! Start taking control of your online reputation first by finding out where you currently stand. Claim your listings today to get started. Your positive reviews will give your business credibility and will act as referrals for potential customers. Even your negative reviews can be positive for you if you respond to them and show your customers that you care about their experience and are willing to reach out and make things right.

    • Eight out of 10 internet users in the United States have said that negative information they read online made them change their minds about a purchasing decision.

Negative reviews don’t have to be the end of the world for your reputation. In a previous article, we outlined some best practices for how to handle a bad review. To start, make sure you are aware of the reviews you’re getting and make sure to respond to all of them! One of the worst things you can do is ignore your reviews, especially the bad ones. Get on top of negative reviews by showing your audience that you are willing to acknowledge that someone is upset and are willing to make the situation right.


After a hearty meal and more than enough time with family, the last thing on your mind is more food, but wait…is that…pie? Well, maybe a bite of something sweet is the perfect way to end the night. Rounding off our three courses of reputation management facts, we’ve got some simple and sweet tidbits for you to enjoy.

    • You can watch some really interesting Internet Live Stats! At the time of writing this, there were more than 78,000 Google searches happening every one second!

If you ever need a reminder about the importance of having a presence online, this site is sure to give you a much-needed boost!

    • Effective content marketing can increase your traffic by 2,000 percent!

Start a blog, post photos of your staff, respond to reviews, update your website, and do what you can to put useful, interesting content into the world! Your customers will notice the extra effort, and Google will be more likely to rank you higher.

    • It’s projected that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches!

In a previous article, we outlined some of the ways you can optimize your site for voice search. Virtual assistants are becoming more and more popular, so get ahead of the trend and make sure your business is ready for an influx of customers using voice search to find their goods and services.

Try googling yourself to see what potential customers would see. Unimpressed with your ranking or with what information about you exists out there? There are heaps of resources out there ready to help you turn your reputation around and get your online presence glowing!

    • When consumers compare two items with similar ratings, they are more likely to purchase the product with the most reviews.

Remind your customers how much you value their feedback, and let them know that you would really appreciate an online review. Their feedback will add to your credibility, give potential future customers a reason to choose your business, or give you crucial feedback you may not have otherwise thought of!

We hope you enjoyed this fabulous spread of information. If you are excited to get a jumpstart on managing your reputation today, we recommend you check out Top Rated Local to get your listings claimed for free. If you celebrate, we here at Top Rated Local wish you a safe and happy holiday; may all your leftover sandwiches be epic.

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 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.

Utilizing data from ClickFlow, Backlinko analyzed more than five million Google search results, and their results demonstrate just how important it is to ensure that your website is on the first page of Google. Backlinko found that Google’s number one result saw an average CTR (click-through-rate) of 31.7% and was 10 times more likely to be clicked than the number 10 result. It also found that only 0.78 percent of searchers clicked on any result on the second page.

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’ 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’ 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, 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’ 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, and gathering reviews.

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 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 Local Listing Ads® program, which will help you easily get your business listed on more than 50 directories, local 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 Study – 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 in someone’s life, 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 percent 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’ 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 build 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’ 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!

What Determines Your Business’ Online Reputation

Your business’ online and offline reputations are related, but they’re determined by vastly different things.

Every business knows that their online reputation matters, but what determines it?

A lot of businesses in this day and age fully understand the importance of having a good, solid reputation both online and offline. With a good offline reputation, you can get your business’ name out there largely through word-of-mouth marketing, which will save you a lot of money and hassle over time. And with a good online reputation, your customers will spread the word about your business for you through referrals.

Both online and offline reputation are essential to a business’ long-term success, and that’s especially true if you’d eventually like to cut back on your marketing budget, as the leads you get from your reputation come much, much more affordably than the ones that you can from buying ads. However, building a strong online reputation isn’t quite the same thing as building an offline reputation, and to build the kind of reputation you want, you’ll need to know what determines it.

The Top 7 Aspects of a Business’ Online Reputation

#1. Customer Service

You might be surprised to learn that the number one thing that affects your business’ online reputation largely doesn’t happen online at all. The fact of the matter is that kind of customer service you offer — be it chatting over the phone or on chat, or in-person — can make or break your business’ online reputation.

Most customer complaints online and offline don’t stem from innocent mistakes; they stem from poor customer service. Largely, people understand that businesses are made up of fallible individuals who make a mistake or two sometimes, and as long as you demonstrate your willingness to correct the problem, they’ll still be able to find a reason to be happy with your service. However, if your customer service isn’t up to their standards, that’s much more difficult to bounce back from. That’s why, when you want to build the kind of online reputation that converts prospects into customers, the first thing you should do is start focusing on providing next-level customer service in your business.

#2. Listings

Your business is listed on a wide variety of review sites, and that’s true whether you’ve set up the listing or not. That’s because review sites are designed to help consumers find the right plumber, dentist, window cleaner or whatever professional they’re looking for, and the good ones want to offer the best results, which means listing businesses that haven’t signed up with them yet. But keep in mind that this is a good thing for your business, as it ensures that your name is seen on a variety of sites.

The one downside to your business being listed on review sites without you knowing it is the high possibility that the information listed isn’t accurate or up to date. A successful reputation management strategy includes claiming and editing your business listings for accuracy across all review sites. This ensures that any consumers who find you online are able to get ahold of you when they need you.

Another big benefit of claiming your listings is that, on many review sites, it gives you the ability to respond to manage your reviews.

#3. Reviews

Reviews are probably the most obvious aspect of a business’ online reputation, because they consist of direct feedback from your real-life customers. And as we mentioned in our last point, the ability to manage and respond to those reviews is essential to a business’ ability to build the kind of online reputation they want.

Although reviews are supposed to be from real-life customers, people aren’t always honest, and that’s not always the case. This is another reason why it’s vitally important to your business’ online reputation to monitor and manage any reviews you get, which should absolutely include responding to your reviews.

Whether a review is positive or negative, fake or authentic, accurate or unfair, crafting your own response will give you a chance to share your side of the story. And unfortunately, if you do end up getting a fake review, it’s not always going to be easy to get it removed. While responding to a fake review may not be as effective as getting it taken down, it’s far better than leaving the fake review about your business without setting the record straight.

#4. Website

Your website is your business’ main hub online, so if you’re currently operating without one, it’s time to take the leap and invest in a website. And when it comes to maintaining and protecting your business’ online reputation, you should never overlook the importance of having a solid, user-friendly website that you update frequently with new information. Your website is the main place where prospective customers can go online to learn about your business, get to know you and determine what kind of business you are.

If you want your website to make an impact, it’s essential that your business listings across the web all directly point to your website, and that includes any social media profiles you have, like Facebook or Instagram. These links, as well as the information you add to your website on a regular basis in the form of blogs, testimonials, tutorials, etc. will help to ensure that your website ranks among the top search results for relevant keywords.

#5. Social Media

Being on social media is a great start, but if you really care about your business’ online reputation, it’s not enough. In order to have an effective impact on your online reputation, your business needs to be active on social media, and you need to ensure that you do so in the right way. Think about it — how many people have gotten themselves into trouble for saying the wrong thing on social media? It’s happened to everyone, from CEOs to politicians to celebrities, and businesses are no exception.

Social media gives you a powerful way to connect with your audience like nothing else, and your focus should always be on sending out a positive message to your audience and providing an impactful experience. Post about things that make an impact on your customers and their lives, including your business’ community involvement, helpful tips and tricks that are relevant to your business, humorous memes and photos, and customers’ personal testimonials and case studies (with their permission, of course!).

Just as regularly adding content to your website can help to ensure that it ranks highly in search results for relevant search terms, so will regularly posting to your social media sites. Managing social media is key for SEO (search engine optimization) success.

#6. Search Results

Search results are another key aspect to your business’ online reputation. After all, when a customer searches for your business name on Google or Bing, you want the results that show up to be positive, not negative press or one-star reviews. And while you can’t control what your customers and employees — or even a disgruntled competitor — are saying about your business online, with SEO, you do have some degree of control over what pops up in the SERP (search engine results pages) when your business is googled.

As we mentioned, what you post on your website and on social media can have a huge impact on what comes up when people search for your business online, but those are just a couple of aspects of SEO. Reviews and how you respond to reviews also plays a role, as well as the accuracy of the information listed about your business across the web.

#7. Brand Mentions

Like we said, you don’t have any control over what people say about your business online, and that can seem unfair, but you do have the ability to respond to it. Your response can turn a one-star review into a five-star experience, and it can demonstrate your customer service prowess to anyone who might be considering working with you. However, in order to respond to any mentions of your brand in a timely manner, you need to know about in the first place.

Ignoring negative reviews and press doesn’t make them go away — it only makes matters worse. And a key part of building and maintaining an online reputation involves setting up alerts for brand mentions, so that any time negative information comes up, you can address it quickly and minimize the damage it can do on your online reputation.

Take control over your business’ online reputation with Top Rated Local®.

Understanding the different aspects that determine your business’ online reputation is the first step towards building and maintaining the online reputation you want, but the second step involves having the right tools on your side, like Top Rated Local.

With Top Rated Local, you’ll get an aggregate score of your online reputation as a whole across a variety of different verified review sites. Gone are the days of having to look at five different review sites to get an idea of how you’re doing online. And the benefits of becoming a Top Rated Local business don’t stop there.

Learn more about the benefits of becoming a Top Rated Local business and sign up today!

When Near-Perfect Beats Perfect

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

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’ reviews on 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 is a five-star review. Luckily, people 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’ 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 percent of people trust five-star ratings; while, 35 percent trust four-star ratings and 22 percent trust three-star ratings.

Not only might a consumer believe that a perfect five-star rating might be 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 any reviews.

#2. It’s the content that matters.

While a business’ average star rating is certainly important, the content of a business’ 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 negative 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, the fact of the matter is that 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’ Online Reputation With Top Rated Local

Whether your average rating across review sites is five-stars, four-stars or one-star, managing your business’ online reputation is a non-negotiable part of its success. With Top Rated Local, you’ll be able to learn about your business’ 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!