Whether you like it or not, your online reputation matters. If your business doesn’t have a local online reputation management strategy, chances are you are leaving a lot of money on the table in terms of lost sales.
Thankfully, if you want to take control and develop a positive online reputation, you can.
In this article, we’re going to look at methods that you can use to in order to establish a local reputation and super-charge your online presence over the coming year. By combining a killer online reputation strategy with an effective search engine optimization strategy, you will be able to attract more new customers than you ever thought possible.
1. Setup & Optimize a Google My Business Company Page
The first step towards developing or enhancing your online reputation is to set up a Google+ company page, now known as Google My Business.
Correctly setting up a Google+ company page will give your company a chance to appear in the organic map results section of Google search engine results. In terms of SEO, authentic G+ reviews are by far the best customer reviews you can get.
A verified Google+ company page will enable you to receive reviews. This makes it easy for people to get a quick snapshot of your business and its reputation.
In order to set up a Google+ company page, you need to go to this webpage.
NOTE: many people do not realize that you need to have a Google+ personal profile before making a Google My Business page. They incorrectly setup a personal page to look like a company page, and a personal G+ page cannot get customer reviews.
Setting up a Google+ page is not enough, however. You also need optimize it so that it performs to the highest level.
Optimizing a Google+ Company Page
Optimizing your Google+ company page the right way can mean the difference between hitting the top of Google, or tanking into the search engine abyss.
Here are some quick pointers on how to optimize effectively:
- Provide a complete and accurate address
- Mention opening hours
- Include a phone number
- Be specific when choosing the category for your business
- Create a custom banner for your page
- Add your company logo
- Link your page to your website
- Add your social media account links to the “About” tab on your Google My Business Page
- Include a 150-300 word company intro to your about page
- In this section, add 1-2 links to inner pages of your website
- Add pictures and relevant videos from your YouTube account
- Make sure that you do not have any duplicate listing on Google+. If so, contact a Google rep and get the duplicate listings deleted ASAP.
ANOTHER BIG NOTE: in some cases, you may need to verify your phone number, or be mailed a Google Postcard PIN number to activate, update or claim your listing.
2. Setup & Optimize Other Major Review Site Pages
Your Google+ company page will often include review you have received from other websites too.
Such websites might be Yelp, BBB, Angie’s List, Yahoo, Insider Pages, Thumbtack and CitySearch.
You need to make sure people can easily find you on these sites. If you don’t set up an account on each of these sites – or claim and existing listing – you’re limiting the number of reviews you can attain. That, of course, could impact your ability to fully maximize your online reputation.
Similar to the Google+ pages, you also need to make sure you’ve optimized your business pages on these sites.
Providing all the information that they ask for, is generally the best way to optimize such pages.
3. Add a Review Plugin to Your Site
One great way to help give you more control over reviews is to include a review submission feature right on your website. That way, you can drive all of your customer to your website first, as a way for your to filter reviews before they are posted on third party sites.
Yet, if you do not have a review submission feature installed on your site, it is going to be hard for them to leave you a review.
Installing a WordPress review plugin does not have to be challenging.
This page goes through some of the best review plugins out there.
If you feel uncomfortable installing it yourself, consider asking your web developer to help you.
Catching Bad Reviews
If you have a custom WordPress website, review plugins give you a chance to act quickly. If someone leaves a negative review on your site, you get a unique chance to communicate with the customer before the review get published to a third party site.
This can be your chance to rectify the situation, make the customer happy, and turn those lemons into lemonade.
Maximizing Positive Reviews
On the other hand, if someone leaves you a positive review, you could ask them to re-post the same review on a major review site. This will allow for more people to see it and will give you all kinds of additional SEO value.
4. Consider Using a Customer Review Service
Reputation management services, ironically, have a reputation of being poor. However, a few rotten apples don’t have to spoil the bunch.
Companies such as Grade.us and Get5Stars.com have a system in place for collecting reviews and testimonials.
In most cases the only thing you have to do is provide the company with customer email addresses. From there the reputation management company will conduct an outreach service, that aims to develop a set of positive reviews for your business.
5. Add Review Site Badges to Your Homepage
If you don’t want to host a reviews section on your own website, you can opt for ‘site badges’ instead. These badges will link to some of the major review sites out there. Repeat visitors to your website might take note of these badges and leave a positive review as a result.
As there are many review sites out there, you’ll want to rotate the badges around, as this spreads the reviews around. However, one badge that should never be missing from your site is the Google+ badge, also known as the G+ badge.
6. Be Proactive About Getting Reviews
Sometimes, your customers will need a little nudge when it comes to reviewing your business.
Now, let’s be clear here – you’re not soliciting reviews. That could do more damage than good, especially since review sites frown on the concept.
You can, however, ask for customer feedback whenever you get the chance. Obtaining emails might be a good idea, as you can later message them and ask them to visit a review site.
7. Don’t Fake It
Many people can’t resist the temptation to buy or get fake reviews. We all want these reviews, but let’s face it, they can be hard to get. But fake reviews are just not worth it. Your customers will be able to tell when some offshore or random person leaves a review that is not specific to the location or service perform. You lose credibility instantly.
Further, reviews are really coming under heavy scrutiny, and there is a chance that manipulated reviews could come back to haunt you. Google has been setting a strong precedent recently with people that manipulate their results with unnatural signal. Just look how hard Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates have hit various website over the last three years.
Reviews are one type of feedback that will be easy for them to find and penalize once this becomes a priority – its not a question of if, but when.
Are You Ready for the Next Level?
An effective local reputation management strategy can take your business to the next level. By implementing some of the strategies mentioned, you’ll develop one of the most powerful marketing assets available to you.
Some of these steps can be done independently, such as engaging a reputation management service. Combine everything into one strategy, however, and there’s no telling what’s possible. All you have to do is make reputation management a priority!