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There are more than 100 million websites besides your company’s site – chances are that at least one of them mentions your business, positively or negatively. But what can you do about it? Fortunately, much of the time you can do something about it – so here are some recommendations on how to manage your business’s online reputation.
How would you know what people were saying about you if you weren’t listening? Time to turn on your ears!
Many people use a number of different reviewing sites for their digital ranting and raving. Thankfully, these sites also offer business owners the ability to claim listings, ensure details are accurate, and sometimes even respond to reviewers! And they might even have your business listed already. If you’re not sure where to check, look up your business name on these sites:
- Google Places / Google Hotpot
- Urbanspoon (restaurants)
- Merchant Circle
- Yellow Pages
- Dex Knows
Yes, that’s a lot – and it’s just the tip of the iceburg! Which of these is most relevant for you? Simple: Google yourself! Search for your company name on several search engines, and then claim the listings that appear highest first. After all, half of your SEO is already done for you!
These sites tend to make it easy to claim listings – look for links that say “Claim this listing,” “Do you own this business?” or “Make updates.” After that, add photos, hours, and other details that customers would want to know. The more information the better! Some of the sites above even allow you to add news items, coupons, or other deals to attract more customers to your store.
Respond to It
You won’t be the only one adding information about your business to these sites – user reviews are an essential part, too. Though reviews can be scary and even negative, remember that a range of authentic reviews is more valuable than several identical positive ratings.
However, sometimes there are negative reviews that are illegitimate, whether they were written by a competitor or by someone who did not actually have an experience at your business. If they are over-the-top abusive, that is also inappropriate, and can often be reported to the website.
For the most part, negative reviews come from your customers, and you need to listen to and learn from them. Yelp has a number of good recommendations when it comes to responding to reviews. Above all, don’t offer anything more than human contact and an understanding attitude – customers do not want to be offered coupons, e-mail list subscriptions, or requests to tell their friends, even if they wrote a good review about your business.
When responding to criticism, take a deep breath and stay away from anything that would sound rude, insincere, or could be seen as a threat or a bribe. And try to stay human – using a profile picture often seems kinder than a logo, and shy away from sarcasm or anything that could be hurtful if taken literally.
These companies are all hard at work on their own SEO – and as they improve their rankings, your page will also rise. Plus, search engines are focusing more and more on high-quality local search – Google Hotpot, in particular, will help your business pop out as a suggested business to relevant Google users. As Google is rolling out Hotpot worldwide, in 38 languages and at least that many countries, local search has nowhere to go but up. Make sure your company is going up with it!