It takes long to build a positive online reputation and an instant to destroy it. Reputation management ensures that a small business is exposed to people in a positive light to attract customers. It is a crucial part of digital marketing that should not be overlooked. To handle feedback, you cannot just remove negative reviews or post fake positive comments. This can be discovered and the repercussions can hurt your business very seriously. The best approach to feedback is to respond and tackle it head-on as most sites allow you to respond to comments. Small business reputation management involves identifying resources online that your potential customers use to learn more about your brand and taking actions to make sure those resources represent you positively. The primary goal is to grow your client base and boost your sales. It does not need to be expensive. The following are the essentials to managing online reputation for small businesses.
Optimizing your Website and Social Media Profiles
You want your brand to be on top results when someone searches it on search engines. Your website and social media profiles should be optimized to make them visible in search results. First off, you want your website to be stored in Google’s digital library which you can check on Google Search Console using your site’s exact URL. Verify your website’s ownership through your domain provider and check if your site is indexed by clicking on “URL Inspection” on the left menu.
You can request indexing if it is not indexed yet or if you have low unique web pages. It is also helpful to submit a sitemap or a roadmap of your web pages for your site to be easier to find. You can either build it manually or seek help from a third-party generator. Note that the key is to get your website indexed for landing on top search results. Link your social media profiles in your website’s homepage footer for Google to know and for you to rank better as needed.
Setting up Profiles on Review Sites and Google Alerts
Your reputation online mainly includes reviews about your business. If you have a physical store, your reviews could be on your Facebook page, Yelp, or Google My Business. If you have an eCommerce store, reviews may be on your website or online marketplaces. Your online reputation may not be limited to reviews. It may also include news articles, chatter in forums or social media, and blog posts about your business.
Remember that your reviews are a reflection of your brand. Small business reputation management is taking control of them so people would want to do business with you. Claim a URL that features the name of your brand on websites that allow this, such as Facebook Business. Contact information should be complete and up-to-date, with compelling, accurate and keyword-rich descriptions. The tool Google Alerts allows you to include keywords that relate to your business so that you see online news that comes up about your brand.
It is helpful to have a dedicated reputation manager to oversee your efforts. Many consumers expect an immediate response to complaints and not responding can hurt your business. Your manager should be actively checking your review sites and Google Alerts. There should be a standard in your responses as well.
Improving Online Reputation
A positive reputation is key for consumers to trust your brand. You want more people to review your site and improve your credibility, which also helps boost your search results. Both the quality and quantity of your reviews matter.
- Ask for reviews. To get more reviews, you can start by simply asking your customers to review your business. Reports say that 70% of happy customers would gladly share a good review when asked. You can mention that you are on some review sites and highly appreciate even a short review. Using email marketing or adding links to review sites on your social media page or site are some of the ways you can ask for reviews.
- Highlight the good ones. Ask for permission from a loyal customer to use his or her positive review in your marketing materials. These great reviews can be eye-catching testimonials that you can share on email or social media.
- Get positive mentions. Apart from reviews, you can put blog mentions to good use. Reach out to influencers around your industry for a free product or service for an honest review. Target those with an engaged audience. Start by building a relationship, making sure you provide helpful information about your business.
Dealing with Feedback
Small business reputation management means proper handling of feedback. Treat online reviews like how you treat outright comments from actual customers via phone or your physical store. You don’t just ignore them. Take this as a way to create relationships with them, regardless if the feedback is positive or negative. By responding, you make your customers feel valued.
Thank your customer for taking the time to review. If the feedback is unpleasant, address the issue and do not be defensive. Assure them you are handling the situation. Use details from the review or ask the customer for further information for a thorough investigation. On the other hand, if it is positive, reiterate the good point. You might need to chat with a customer who left a negative review privately so you won’t have to go public about it. The key is to make them feel you are resolving the issue and take an opportunity for them to try your business again. Some customers who are happy with the resolution to their complaint remove their negative review or update it with a more positive view.
What people say and think about your brand determines your business’ success. Be proactive in managing your reputation. Do not just act when your image is threatened. Start by offering outstanding customer support and a top-notch product. Strategize on how you can win the trust of customers and how you can get them to write something good about you.