If someone you don’t know so well recommended a restaurant to you, would you eat there before you Googled it?
Today, where information is accessible in just a few clicks, running background checks on service providers is already second nature to us. As a small business owner, you need to think about your online reputation as the first thing that’s killing or winning you sales. To a great extent, it is up to you to manage, control and optimize the things people see when they look for you online.
Take Preventive Measures
Building a positive online reputation takes time and effort. Get started now, so that if something negative does come along, it can be balanced against plenty of good reviews.
Here are some things you can get started with today:
- Establish and publish your commitment to service and quality, and making sure your team knows these are core values for your business.
- Make feedback a central part of your customer experience, so that clients will be more likely to come to you before badmouthing you online. The OwnerListens app, available at the Wix App market, is perfect for this.
- Add testimonials and ratings on a dedicated page of your own website. Apps that can be help you with the setup are Testimonial Builder, RatingWidget and Testimonials – all of which come in free versions.
- Publish blog posts on your site often to help Google recognize you as an authoritative publication.
- Google your company in Chrome’s Incognito mode (explained nicely here) to see what info pops us on your business. Then create content on your site that links to positive results about you – this will boost the rankings of those pages.
- Go through all of the top local business directories to see where you’re already listed and where you need to get listed (Getlisted is a superb search engine that specializes in this).
- Use the “Claim this Business” tool on local directories to register as the owner. This will allow you to respond to reviews publicly, using your brand name.
- Publish badges and widgets from top user review directories like Yelp and TripAdvisor on your site, building trust with your audience and showing that you’re proud of your reputation.
Build a Social Media Presence
Did you know that content you publish to social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook) ranks high on Google? Engaging with clients on social media is a good idea anyway, but the search juice you get from it may just be the incentive you need. Do some research to see which social channels work best for your business and set up a presence there. In order for people to see your content on search engines, you’ll need to publish regularly to your business pages / accounts. This is a long term commitment, but your business will benefit in many ways: you’ll be able to establish yourself as an expert, enjoy increased exposure, build relationships with clients and become more personal with them.
Dos and Don’ts when Responding to Negative Reviews
Getting an occasional bad review is almost inevitable and happens to most businesses. The first rule to remember is don’t panic. Responding impulsively and emotionally is a recipe for disaster – just see what happened with Amy’s Baking Company.
Negative feedback can actually be a great opportunity to fix problems and make clients happy. If someone complains with a justified bad review, own up to your shortcomings, apologize sincerely and offer a free gift as a gesture of goodwill. Most complainers will be so impressed that they’ll feel the need to share the positive experience you ultimately gave them. And even if they don’t, your honesty, generosity and dedication to clients will make you look good to the general public.
However, if someone is lying or making unfounded allegations against you, do consider taking action to get the review taken down. The well-known small business directories care very much about their own platforms’ credibility and are likely to support your efforts to set things right.