Today, before someone chooses to do business with you, chances are they may take the time to ‘Google’ your name or business name. While this may seem like the smart thing to do as a consumer, it can be a nightmare for businesses.
If you happen to have an unhappy customer who wants the world to know what he or she thinks about you, your business can be dragged through the mud. Therefore, online reputation management is something that businesses of all sizes need to be aware of and actively involved in if they want to protect their image.
Here are some tips on how you can monitor and improve your online reputation so you can stay on top of things:
1. Google Yourself – The best way to stay on top of your reputation is know what is being said about your business online. So make it a habit to ‘Google’ your name, as well as your business name, and carefully read the results that come up. Chances are you will find a lot of good reviews and some negative ones. However, at least you will be aware of how your business looks in the eyes of potential customers. Steps 2-10 will give you some pointers on what to do when you do find those negative reviews.
2. Answer Negative Reviews – Often times, business owners make the mistake of ignoring bad press and negative reviews online; this generally only makes the situation worse. Places like Yelp.com allow people to comment and review your business, but they also allow the business owner to respond. Maybe someone had a bad experience and instead of coming to you about it, they turned to the internet. As the business owner, be proactive and talk to the person writing a bad review. Apologize for the incident and invite them back to do business with you. Accept the mistake and show them you are willing to fix it. This goes a long way in terms of public opinion of your business.
3. Start Blogging – One of the best ways to help push down negative reviews and get them off the first page is to blog on a frequent basis. SEO algorithms are constantly changing, but one thing the search engines have always looked for – and still do – is frequent and informative content. So the more you blog, the faster your blog posts will fill up the top of search engine results.
4. Distribute Press Releases – A press release will generally go to the top of search engine rankings rather quickly. However, since these are dated they will not stay at the top for an extended period of time. Therefore, creating press releases on a regular basis can be a good start in pushing down negative content while filling up the first pages of the search engines with good, positive content.
5. Get Social – Google places a lot of quality on social media sites and this means that the more social media sites you are on, the better for your SEO. If you have negative reviews on places such as Google+ Local, Yelp.com or other review sites, use social media to get your happy customers to leave reviews. Social media is a great way to boost your online reputation as it allows you to engage and interact with your followers; building trust and loyalty over time.
6. Join Industry Specific Forums – There are numerous forums all over the internet and if you find ones that are rated higher and are in your specific industry- consider joining them. Get active on these forums and always include a link in your signature. Offer advice and become an authority in your field and local area. By being active, you will be reaching a new audience as well as building a solid reputation online.
7. Practice Search Engine Optimization – Make sure that your websites, blogs and social media sites are SEO optimized. By ensuring that you are using the right keywords and targeting your local market, your online presence will grow. Not only is this good for more local online exposure, but it also works to build a strong reputation for your business in terms of relevance and importance.
8. Think Before You Speak – Be careful with the information that you put out there about yourself and your business. Once the information is out there, there is no taking it back. So whenever you post anything on your social media sites, always think about it first. Could what you’re posting hurt your reputation? Could it be viewed in a negative light? If it can, then do not post it. That is if you want to protect your business image.
9. Use Photos Online and Optimize Them – Today, people want to see who they are doing business with. So make sure that you have photos of yourself, your business and your employees on your website as well as your social media profiles. Also use keywords to name your photos to help them rank in the search engines.
10. Buy Domains with Your Business Name in Them – If your reputation has already been tarnished one quick fix is to buy as many domains with your business name in them as you can. Once you purchase these domains, put up smaller sites related to your business industry. Since Google places a lot of emphasis on the name inside a URL, these sites should rank easily, which will also help to push down any negative customer reviews as well.
Millions of people go online to leave feedback about businesses that they’ve purchased products or services from. Unfortunately, unhappy consumers are more likely to tell the world how they feel than happy consumers. Therefore, it is up to your business to stay on top of what is being said about you online, address any negative feedback, and consistently create positive content in regards to your business.
Need some assistance in monitoring or cleaning up your online image?
One of my specialities is in helping real estate agents (and other small businesses) connect with local consumers by establishing a strong online reputation. Leave a comment to get in touch with me for a free consultation.