Are you paying attention to your reputation online? If not, online reputation management matters – is critically important for your business. Every day, customers search for your business online.
Reviews about businesses on the right sites can dramatically impact your search rank results. Top directory listings such as Google My Business, Yahoo!, and Bing showcase reviews from all kinds of customers, from those who are extremely satisfied and others who are making complaints.
The reality is that people trust online reviews, and so do the search engines. Online reviews on trusted review sites can catapult your business listing on one of those key sites on to the first page of Google. But this just doesn’t happen unless you make it a priority.
Reputation management can be a time consuming endeavor for Fortune 500 companies, let alone small business owners. Staying on top of customer reviews can be a time-consuming process, let alone responding to each and every comment and review. However, the reality is that reputation management leaves a lasting impression on how your business is viewed by customers. Writing off reputation management as unnecessary for your company can ultimately dig your business into a hole that’s very difficult to get out of.
In order to understand why reputation management matters, the first step is to understand what reputation management is.
What is Reputation Management?
The purpose of reputation management is to help control your online presence as much as possible. The Internet is full of websites and resources where customers can give their two cents about your business, and it can be difficult to monitor and manage those comments—let alone find them if you don’t know where to look.
One of the main purposes of online reputation management is to monitor and respond to customer reviews, both positive and negative. This should the online community that you care about customer feedback and strive to continue to improve your business.
One of the most often overlooked aspect of online reputation management is to be proactive and to develop a reputation management process to make it easy for customers to write reviews. If a business just lets reviews happen, then the tendency is that people who have had negative experiences are much more likely to write a review.
Another purpose of online reputation management is to stay on top of negative reviews. Negative reviews can take a major toll of your business and they can appear in a variety of places, such as:
- The most obvious is review websites, where customers are allowed to publish exactly what they think about your product or service. This content can affect your sales and needs to be promptly addressed.
- Other popular complaint sources include Pissed Consumer and Ripoff Report
- Some customers can really push the limit and create hate websites with a focus on your business. These websites can contain false and even illegal information that makes a terrible impression on your business.
- Negative media coverage is also another concern for business owners, which can be addressed with the help of reputation management.
Professional reputation management services can help find unfavorable reviews and respond or even remove them from the source.
How Business Owners Stay on Top of Their Own Online Reputation Management Matters?
Staying on top of your own online reputation management matters can be very time consuming—this is one of the biggest reasons why business owners turn to experts for help.
Some of the basic techniques of staying on top of your own reputation management include the following:
- Conducting a reputation audit of your business to determine what people have already said about your business online.
- Conducting a deep cleanse to create a consist presence online on a variety of business directory listings. This should focus on being comprehensive, complete, and accurate. Name Address Phone number (NAP), description, business hours, website, and photos are important and NAP must be exactly the same.
- Developing a Review Funnel and a process to ask for legitimate reviews on the right review sites from real customers to leverage a positive net-promoter score.
- Search keywords and phrases that are related to your company, most specifically your company name. However, keep in mind that it’s not enough to do a quick Google search and call it a day. You will need to use Google’s search tools to find the most recent commentary, as well as search on various social media platforms.
- In addition to searching on social media platforms, you’ll also need to constantly monitor them. While most social platforms will notify you if you have a new review, you’ll still need to keep an eye on comments. It’s easy to let negative reviews slip through the cracks if they go unnoticed.
- You’ll also need to stay on top of any news that is surrounding your product or service. One convenient method of keeping up with then news is searching daily on Google News for your company name.
That’s a lot of Work: Is it Really Necessary?
Although this seems like a lot of work, the truth is that it’s only a small portion of what is involved for managing your reputation online. However, online reputation is absolutely necessary to keep your reputation as clean as possible online.
Almost everyone reads reviews, and for specific industries consumers check online reviews over 90% of the time, at least some of the time.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Be pro-active. Online reputation management should be one of your top marketing priorities. Bad reputations can kill your business and make you close your doors for good—and after years of investing time, money, and energy, that’s the last thing that you want to happen.
If creating a 5-star reputation online isn’t at the very top of your to-do list, it’s time to change your mindset. It’s important to make sure customers are well-informed and making positive decisions when they decide to do business with your company.
Good reviews are typically under-represented. Human nature is such that unhappy customers are more like to talk about their experience that a happy customer. While the overwhelming majority of consumers in the US will read online reviews, only 6% will write them.
Creating a review funnel to drive good reviews, and to effective address the negative reviews one of the most important things a business can do. Make it easy to write reviews. Ask you happy customers to write reviews. Provide customer service to address issues and complaints before customers write negative reviews. This doesn’t just happen – the business needs to own this process.
No matter who is handling your reputation management, it should be top priority for your business. But understanding its importance is the key to ensuring that your reputation remains pristine across all mediums.
Customers Trust Businesses with Positive Reviews
If you haven’t noticed, the Internet has made it exceedingly easy to post content online. That content ranges from anything to reviews to social media posts, and any of that content can mention your brand.
It’s no secret that reviews are powerful. According to a 2014 survey from Bright Local, 88% of consumers claim that a company’s reviews determine the quality of a local business. Furthermore, 39% of consumers claim that they read reviews about local businesses on a regular basis.
The truth is that potential customers are reading this content about your company online. In fact, the same survey indicates that 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews before feeling that they can trust your business.
Positive comments can help encourage customers to sign on with your company instead of a competitor, and possibly even become a repeat customer. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most popular ways to generate trust with your customers and gain business, but online reviews is right behind.
The Impact of Negative Reviews
On the other side of the coin, negative reviews can be very harmful to your business. 86% of people will be hesitant to buy from your business if it has negative online reviews. They can send customers running in the opposite direction and even spread this information to their friends.
No business is perfect. How a business handles an unsatisfied customer speaks volumes about your business, and can actually help to lend credibility to your business. Readers of reviews will see your business that pays attention and cares about customer satisfaction.
Unfortunately, negative reviews are even worse when they aren’t from a legitimate customer. There are dishonest people and even competitors who will post an entirely fake review in order to harm your company’s reputation. As unfortunate of a situation as it is, it happens often across numerous platforms including Yelp and Facebook.
The good news is that you might be able to get the review removed, but expect it to be a process. The first step is to contact the website and state your case. You will need to provide evidence for why you believe that the review is fake and provide any possible motives. In addition to competitors, disgruntled employees also may leave negative reviews. So keep this in mind if any seemingly fake reviews pop up on your account.
Even if you believe the negative review is illegitimate, it’s best to respond as if the review is real. Do not make accusations and call out specific people on your response. Handle the negative review as you would any other review—promptly and professionally.
The last step you might want to consider in this case is to take legal action. Even though that a fake negative review might eventually be removed, a competitor may continue the process. The only real way to stop this is to seek the advice of an attorney.
Repairing Your Online Reputation
Repairing your online reputation can be an uphill battle. There are numerous ways that you can monitor and review your reputation online. However, repairing that reputation is another ballgame on its own.
Repairing your reputation is best served in the hands of a professional. However, there are several steps that you can take to get the ball rolling in the right direction:
- One of the first steps of repairing your reputation is simply removing a review from its source. Many online review sites (including Facebook) do not allow you to just simply remove a review. There is an approval process to go through which may or may not be effective.
- If you find a website that is dedicated to false reviews on your website, it can eventually be taken down. However, it may still appear in the Google search engine rankings for some time. To expedite its removal from the search engines, you can submit a request by using the Google URL removal tool.
Take Control of Your Online Reputation with Changescape Web
Take charge of your online reputation by working with Changescape Web. We can help improve your business presence online, create a review funnel to make it easier for your customers to write reviews, detect negative mentions of your brand to provide an opportunity for customer service, eliminate negative fake negative reviews, and keep your company’s reputation intact.