These days, a business’s online reputation is everything. Because many consumers use the opinions of others – rather than advertisements – to make purchasing decisions, building and keeping a great reputation for your business online is absolutely essential. Wondering how you can keep a great online reputation or improve a not so great one? Here’s how:
Reach Out to Negative Reviewers
A Wall Street Journal article on online reputation management for businesses lists this as the single most important thing businesses can do to boost their online reputation. Find negative reviews on review sites and in social media, and reach out to the reviewers. Find out what made them give a negative review, and fix it if you can. At the very least, apologize for the mistake or situation that caused them to leave a negative review. On many of these sites, reviewers can change their ratings after they have a better encounter with a business, so this can be helpful.
Reach Out to Positive Reviewers, Too
Reaching out to positive reviewers is only slightly less important than reaching out to negative ones. Find the people who have left your business positive reviews, and thank them! You might get even more positive comments out of the deal, but at the very least, you’ll build customer loyalty.
Use Social Media and Press Releases to your Advantage
Another way to control your online reputation is to flood your business’s online name with good and neutral information that outweighs the bad. Obviously you can’t control what others are saying about your business, but you can use Facebook, Twitter, and press releases to flood search engines with good and neutral information about your business. This will make the negative information and comments seem less common, and it will make those marks against your business less likely to show up high in the Google rankings.
Stay On Top of It
Even if you have a great reputation online today, that could change in the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s so important that small businesses stay on top of their online reputations. There are some great, affordable tracking tools online these days. If you can’t afford tracking tools at the moment, it might be worth checking out a business credit card to help you foot the bill for a few months, as building a good online reputation can bring the business flooding in. Some cards have good business credit card rewards, as well, that can give you some perks for your business as you use the card to help pay for even a basic level of online reputation monitoring.
Be a Helpful Member of the Community
Giving out helpful information is one of the best ways to help build a great reputation online. Of course, you don’t want to give it all away, but you do want to be seen as a helpful and contributing member of the online community. This might mean giving tips in your niche on your Facebook page, or writing guest blog posts for blogs that work in your general area. Offering people helpful information nets you more customers in the long run because it tells people that you actually care about them and want to help them build better lives for themselves. That, more than anything, will gain you more customers.
Building a better online reputation for your business isn’t rocket science, but it does take planning and diligence. The best place to start is by running a search to assess your current online reputation, and to make a plan that will help you build the sterling reputation you want to have.