Your business’s online reputation matters. If you’re getting positive reviews on site like Google, buzz on social media, and great press, it can have a real impact on your business’s bottom line.
Let’s talk about what online reputation is and share some steps for improving it.
What is online reputation management
Online reputation management is the act of proactively influencing public perception of your business on channels such as review sites and social media.
Online reputation management matters for a simple reason. Most purchase decisions nowadays involve a customer Googling your business. If they see a bad overall star rating or a bunch of articles trashing your business, they’re going to be left with a negative impression. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you’re proactively taking charge of your online reputation and making sure that potential customers get an accurate view of your business.
Online reputation management and SEO
No matter what you’re looking for, Google always aims to give you the best results. Whether its “best apple pie recipe” or “businesses near me”, Google will try to find results that will make you delighted. For searches involving businesses, online reputation is a key component. Since there’s no way for the algorithm to tell if a restaurant’s food is great or if a dental practice’s services makes patients happy, Google relies on online reputation instead.
The better your online reputation, the higher you will rank in relevant search results. Reviews and positive press coverage show Google that your business is valued by customers.
Why you need an online reputation management strategy
Unfortunately, there’s a big problem that even the best businesses encounter. Usually, the customers who are most likely to leave reviews and post about your business online are those who feel that they’ve had strongly negative experiences. That means that an angry minority might have control of how the world perceives your business.
Luckily, there is a way around this problem. An online reputation management strategy can encourage happy customers to speak positively about your business and ensure that you are collecting more balanced feedback.
How to improve your online reputation
Here are a few steps that you can take to start improving your business’s online reputation.
Aim to provide quality service
It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but we still have to say it: The best way to get a great online reputation is by delivering a great customer experience. If you’re not delighting your customers, there’s no way that you can hack your way into having a great online reputation. So before you try out any of the other tips in this article, it’s important to focus on your customer experience.
Make sure your business listings are accurate
Customers often go to platforms like Google and Yelp to find more information about your business, such as address and hours of operation. To protect your online reputation, it’s important that you have accurate and up-to-date information on all of these sites.
COVID-19 helped to highlight the importance of business listings. With so many different aspects of business operations changing in a short period of time, businesses need to be able to communicate changes in operations immediately. An inaccurate listing can lead to some confused and even angry customers.
Get featured in the press
One great way to improve your business’s online reputation is to send out a press release and send it to relevant journalists who cover your specific niche. If they think your press release could be a good story, they’ll feature your business.
A press release can be picked by multiple websites. When your business is mentioned by trustworthy news websites, customers will be more likely to trust your brand. Plus, getting links from trustworthy domains means that Google will rank your business higher in relevant search results.
Before you send out your pitch, keep in mind that most journalists get hundreds of press releases from businesses every day. In order to ensure that your story will get picked up, take some time to make sure that your pitch stands out. Think about what you can say to capture a journalist’s attention and show them that your product or service is worth writing about.
Reach out to influencers
While traditional media still has lots of reach and influence, it’s not the only way that most people are getting their news nowadays. Many people follow their favorite accounts on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more about relevant businesses and make purchase decisions. That’s why it’s important to reach out to influencers.
Influencers don’t necessarily have to be big celebrities. You don’t need to get The Rock or Robert Downey Jr. to make posts for your business. Instead, you can reach out to micro-influencers in your niche or locale. Micro-influencers are defined as social media accounts with more than a thousand followers. Most of the time, you don’t need to pay them with money. Instead, you can compensate them with free products and discounts.
It’s important to remember that very few influencers are willing to respond to a cold pitch. Try to build up a relationship over time. Comment on their posts and send friendly messages before you ask them to sell your product.
Solicit online reviews
One of the first things that customers will see when they Google your business is your Google reviews. If your overall star rating is low, chances are that they’re just going to turn to a competitor instead.
As we mentioned earlier, the customers who are most likely to leave reviews for your business are those who’ve had strongly negative experiences. Unfortunately, that means that your online reputation is naturally going to have a negative skew.
There’s no way that you can remove these negative reviews, but there is a way to balance out this negative feedback. By soliciting reviews from your customers, you can make sure the opinion of the silent majority is heard. We recommend sending review requests via email and text that link directly to your business’s profile on sites like Facebook and Google. That way, all a customer has to do is click the link and leave a review.
Fight slander against your business on review sites
To protect your online reputation, it’s important to play defense against negative feedback. Most commonly, this comes in the form of customers leaving negative reviews for your business. Sometimes, these reviewers might not be actual customers. They might be customers leaving reviews for the wrong business or they might be competitors playing dirty.
The best way to deal with these negative reviews is by leaving a response that is firm but professional. Point out that the review was written by someone who wasn’t actually a customer but remember to stay polite. Reacting emotionally might leave potential customers with the wrong impression.
Of course, you may occasionally get a negative review that comes from a legitimate customer. In cases like this, it’s important to apologize and provide contact information so a customer can reach out to you for more detail. If you’re able to solve the customer’s problem in a timely manner, there’s a good chance that you can convince them to edit or delete their original review.
Stay active on social media
Another important component of online reputation is what your business does on social media. These days, customers are expecting to engage with businesses on channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Regularly post updates about your business on social channels. In addition, make sure to engage with your customers. It’s an easy way to thank your happy customers and proactively prevent angry ones from seriously hurting your brand.
We also recommend businesses to play around with more social media features than just simply creating posts. You can also consider setting up Facebook Live events and using Facebook and Instagram stories. Since most businesses haven’t yet caught on to these relatively new features, it’s a great way to differentiate your brand from the competition.
Your online reputation is key for getting customers to both discover and choose your business. But remember: building a great reputation doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long process that takes dedication and effort. So don’t rush things. Just be patient and wait for the results to pay off.