Have you Googled your company recently? You might be surprised by what pops up. Customer feedback on the internet is everywhere, and it can make or break your business. Online reputation management is public relations for a company’s internet presence.
Customers are your most powerful marketing tool. What they say on the internet about your business is just as important as what they say around town. Actually, these days, it’s probably more important. After all, it lives forever.
The statistics are clear: 97% of people read reviews on the web before contacting a business for the first time and 84% rely on online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That means that online reputation is the deciding factor for many potential new customers.
How an Online Reputation is Built
It’s easy to find reviews, star ratings and complaints from customers. They’re posted for both web-based or brick-and-mortar businesses. In fact, they show up automatically when using a search engine to find products or services. Feedback is collected and published by websites such as Google, Facebook, Yelp… Together, these reviews and ratings make up an online reputation – the single most accessible evaluation of its performance and customer assistance.
Why Online Reputation Management is Critical
Unhappy customers are more likely to post a review than satisfied customers. (It’s the sad truth.) And if online scores are bad, your business is bound to suffer. Online reputation matters because it may keep target customers from even finding your business. Then, if you do show up among the results they get, customers are using reviews to decide who to call.
Let’s take a deeper look at Google reviews to see how this works…
As the most used website and search engine in the world, Google is an internet beast. “Google Reviews are one of the most important ratings that you can receive on the internet,” explains Jason Mandragona, the former manager of internet marketing at SearchActions who is the current SEO manager for CNBC.
Google My Business profiles provide contact information, service area and business hours for mobile users. It’s a handy service really. Customers can click to get directions, book a table, make an appointment or call directly from the profile. It has a handful of other nifty features, but we’ll save that for another blog post.
We recommend updating GMB profiles often and adding to the information provided. For example, do you offer free Wi-Fi? Is your store wheelchair accessible? Plus, you can make posts with images that show up on your listing. Use this to highlight sales, events and more.
Google business reviews are more important than ever. In the same way search engine optimization helps site rank, good reviews boost your listing. As you acquire positive reviews, your company’s page rank improves on all Google services. It’s the best way to really increase visibility on Google search, maps and more.
Here’s an example. Have you noticed that you get three main results when searching for something near you? These listings are a ‘Local 3 Pack’. “Google now gives users the ability to search for businesses in a ‘local pack’ by their average Google rating. Also, by typing in a keyword and the word “best”, Google will display only the businesses with a 4.0 rating or higher in the local pack results,” says Mandragona. “And for companies with Google Local Service Ads, their GMB Rating is shown next to their ad.”
Online Reputation Management Can Enhance Business
In the business world, reputation has always been everything. Ignoring customer feedback may cost you in terms of new clients, and even earnings. The good news is that you can influence these rankings.
Tools like Google Alerts and Talkwalker help you stay on top of comments. They monitor social media and blog mentions, as well as comments on sites like Yelp and Google Plus. Regularly checking for customer feedback on social networks and review sites will help keep your online presence active and healthy.
Use this as an opportunity to:
It’s important for companies to have active social media profiles and a presence on Facebook and Yelp. These sites display review snippets and customer ratings in the search results. Potential customers will surely glance at these before contacting your company.
Careful online reputation strategy includes correcting and updating company information on all web listings. You’ll also want to keep your eye out for niche review sites and platforms. For instance, a home service business might find a website such as HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List as beneficial to them. Plus, new niche review sites are constantly popping up.
In general, you should always remember that you’re representing your company or brand. This is true even when you’re online. Be professional, respectful and positive when sharing content or posting comments.
Take the time to thank customers for positive reviews. Two-way communication helps build lasting relationships. Plus, this will encourage others to leave a few kind words.
Don’t bribe your clients. But do ask customers and remind them to leave their comments on your Google listing, Yelp, Angie’s List, Nextdoor…whatever platform fits your field best. Racking up more positive content is the only way to outweigh negative reviews.
For negative content, often the best approach is to take the conversation to a more private forum. Try private messaging, email or on the phone, if possible. You can’t know what their comeback to your response will be and it’s better to avoid an escalating argument in front of others.
Responding to bad reviews shows your company’s personal side. It can help explain the situation, clarify a misunderstanding and repair the damage. It also shows any potential customer that may be browsing your reviews that you truly care about your business and how it’s perceived.
Customer feedback can actually be a springboard for growth. Actively listen to what people say about your service to identify room for improvement. Then, make an action plan to learn from mistakes and ensure customer satisfaction in the future.
How’s Your Company’s Online Image?
The bottom line is that customers looking for products and services will see those reviews. And they will use them to make a purchasing decision. A big chunk of potential income is riding on your online reputation. So, it’s imperative that they highlight your strengths.
Online reputation management is changing the way companies interact with customers. Yet it can feel overwhelming. Don’t sweat it. Get a specialist to manage your company’s internet presence.
Reputation management companies will work with you to create a strategy in order to receive new reviews from customers, monitor the web for reviews, and respond to all reviews received. Combined, these activities will help boost your online reputation, engage with previous and current customers, and increase the likelihood of appearing in the Google Local 3 Pack search results.
Put your best foot forward. Contact SearchActions to find out how your company could improve its online presence.