You’ve most likely spent years building a good reputation for both yourself and your business. In today’s age of social media, online review platforms such as Yelp, Angie’s List and Trip Advisor, and sites like Ripoff Report, protecting your online reputation has become more challenging than ever. All it takes is one or two unhappy customers to go online and write a negative review to devastate what you’ve spent years creating. The information doesn’t even need to be true- many bad reviews I read seem exaggerated, and I’ve heard horror stories of businesses writing false negative reviews just to bruise the reputation of a competitor.
If one negative review is posted about your business online, it is likely that hundreds or even thousands of consumers will read it. That’s why it’s more important than ever to protect your online reputation. Even if you haven’t experienced any issues to date, it’s a good idea to take a proactive approach, rather than wait to take a reactive approach. If unprepared, a reactive approach is almost always more difficult.
Here are some steps that you can take to start actively protecting your online reputation today:
Encourage happy customers to write a positive review
When you know a customer is truly satisfied, encourage them to go online and write a positive review. Let them know that it means a lot to your business, and they will more than likely be willing to hook you up. Start with your network of family and friends who may also be clients, and branch out from there.
Monitor, monitor, monitor
It’s smart to take the time every week to monitor sites like Twitter, Yelp, and Facebook (or Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon, Trulia, Zillow, Houzz, etc. if they’re relevant to your business). Monitor daily, if possible. You’ll gain insight as to what people are saying about your business, and if there’s anything negative, you have the chance to respond and hopefully make it right. Address online complaints promptly. This shows the unhappy customer, as well as any other consumers that view the response, that you truly care. This can go a long way. Once the issue is resolved, encourage the user to edit their review or write a new, positive review.
Google Alerts is also a great free tool that can help you monitor your online reputation.
Own your company’s name in the SERP
Most users (about 75%) never click past the first page of search engine results, so it’s important to “own your name” on page one. This means that all of the 10 URLS on the first page are controlled by you. Here are some tips on how to do this::
• Be present on social media sites. The major social profiles that rank especially high in Google results include: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, SlideShare and Pinterest.
• Start a blog. Buy a domain that includes your company name, and post articles with unique content that will inform consumers about your company and it’s products and industry news and trends. Blogging regularly will help to establish you as an expert, and can help with SEO.