As a small business owner there are many things competing for your attention at once. Daily operations of your business, planning marketing campaigns to achieve your goals, and keeping track of your competitors are just a few common concerns vying for your time. Unfortunately, as the world becomes more technology savvy and internet access becomes mainstream for your customers there is one more very important activity you need to add to that long list and that is monitoring your online reputation.
The reputation of your business can mean a lot in terms of attracting new customers and keeping existing ones. Modern consumers take a lot more time to research their options before deciding where to spend their money on a product or service. Throughout history the most trusted form of marketing is word of mouth marketing, because it is seen as non-biased, honest, and not influenced by the company. Mentions of your business can be very positive for your small business or very negative depending on what has been said in terms of service and product performance.
For this reason, you need to pay attention to what’s happening around your online business reputation. What are your customers saying about their experience? Are there any questions about your business being neglected? How are you rated online? Do you have a high search engine ranking or not? It’s time to consider your online reputation management practices.
MAINTAINING A GREAT ONLINE BUSINESS REPUTATION
What does it take in order to keep your online reputation from hurting your business? The most important part about this business activity is to make sure you are aware of your online presence and that you are continually working to improve it. Here are some simple questions to ask yourself to find out if you’re up-to-date on your online reputation:
1. How do you find out about significant online mentions?
It’s vital that you stay on top of local gossip pertaining to your business. When something significant is said about your local shop, do you know about it immediately or do you only hear about it when someone else points it out to you? Google Alerts is a great way to track online mentions of your business with keyword tracking.
2. Are people talking about you on top social media platforms?
If you’re not on the major social media sites, you should consider it. This way, people can tag you in their postings, send comments or messages with their compliments and concerns, retweet, like, or whatever else with your full knowledge. If you’re not on these platforms, it’s possible your business is either not being talked about or is missing out on the conversation. It is also one of the best ways to interact with your customers and get to know their likes and dislikes. A great learning opportunity for your brand and what actions you can take to turn things around quickly as they are being said publicly.
3. Can you find yourself in a local search?
Without managing your online reputation, you will not end up with good search engine ranking, meaning it will be difficult for people to find you through an online search if you don’t have listed citations in local directories. This is also a quick way for businesses that don’t have a website to be found in local search queries. Check it out for yourself from time to time to see where you are currently ranking and then find out how you can improve it. You goal is to be in the snack pack or 3 pack as Google no longer uses the 7-pack for local searches. I think Google is looking to generate more revenue through ad words so businesses will have to pay for an ad in order to be seen on the first page unless your website or local citations are optimized.
4. Do you have reviews on major online pages?
Are you staying aware of new reviews being posted about your business? Keeping up with major online review sites allows you to respond to both good and bad reviews in a timely manner. This is also a great way to optimize your local listings. When customers are reading reviews they are at the purchasing stage of the buying process and these reviews carry a lot of weight when making a decision to call/contact your local business.
ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT: AREAS OF FOCUS
What can you do about improving your online reputation? If it’s already good, you want to go even further and get more people to add their review of your business. You can optimize your citations with images and video to be found easier with search engines. Make sure your keywords are optimized for your niche market. If it’s bad, you need to do damage control and find a way to turn the negative image into a positive. There are several ways you can achieve this by pushing down the negative reviews with positive ones. You can post a blog on a sub-domain; start a testimonial page on your own site. Speak with customers direct and try to work out the issue and ask to retract the review.
Here is a quick break down of the areas you need to focus in order to practice effective online reputation management:
-Search engine results
Look online for free keyword alerts or invest in a paid subscription to a service that will alert you whenever keywords about you, your business, or your products/services are found through a specific search engine. This helps you to keep up with the online conversation so you don’t miss something important. Try Google alerts- https://www.google.co.uk/alerts
-Major review sites
Even if you don’t have any reviews posted yet, it’s good to claim your name and have your business listed on review sites. This gives people the chance to find you more easily and post on your official page. It also means you can manage the posts and respond to negative reviews to try and resolve the issues to regain your customers.
When someone performs a local search on Google, such as “milkshakes in chicago”, a short list of between 3 and 7 of the best rated, more important results will be displayed immediately before other results. Type in a few local keywords for your business and see if you made the cut. If not, you will need to work on your online reputation.
-SEO on page/off page
Even though some marketers might argue that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is becoming too complicated for the average user, the truth is that it still works well for basic users locally. If you’re not doing anything related to SEO, consider outlining a strategy that will get your business name seen locally on the web. Industry-related content, link building, keyword optimization, video and other related activities will all work towards improving your SEO.
Active social media accounts can start conversations about your brand. They can also help you get your name out there in the way you want it. Showing your own perspectives and building your brand personality is easier when you can directly communicate with your customers.
Do you want to take advantage of word of mouth advertising? Contact bloggers and affiliate marketers in your industry. Having your business mentioned by bloggers with a large following can really increase website traffic. Offering samples of a product or a free service to the writer in exchange for an honest review might help you to get a good word in from someone else that people already trust.
Stay Focused and be proactive
Online reputation management is an area that many small businesses do not pay enough attention to. If you’re willing to put in the effort or else hire someone for this make or break a business task, you could find your phone ringing a lot more and your customer base expanding with a solid online reputation. Don’t underestimate the importance consumers place on the opinions of others when making their buying decision. Make sure you know what the general online opinion of your business is so you can proactively improving it! Remember this is not a seasonal task you must stay focused and maintain your listings. Call us for a no obligation consultation to see how together we can improve your online reputation. Click Here Because Your Online Reputation Matters