When it comes to purchasing decisions it used to start with asking a friend or family member, now it usually starts with a search. More and more people are turning to the online community for advice before they buy a product or service.
There are lots of places these questions are answered, whether it’s social media, forums, or a blog post you can usually find out exactly what you need to know before you bite the bullet and make a purchase.
As a business owner, this is something that you need to be aware of, if people aren’t talking about your product or service in a positive way it can have huge implications for your bottom line.
I mean put yourselves in the shoes of the consumer, it shouldn’t be hard, you probably do it yourself. When you’re about to go on holiday and you want to find a nice restaurant for your last night you would be unlikely to go to a place which has a 2* rating and bad coverage when you search for their brand online. So why would you expect someone to make an exception for your business?
We often hear clients when they first reach out to us at Reputica we often hear that the bad coverage is all biased or competitors trying to ruin them. Which it might well be – but you wouldn’t give that restaurant the benefit of the doubt in the scenario above. So whether it’s true or not you should really be paying attention to it.
So we’re going to give you some actionable tips to help keep your online reputation intact and ensure that when customers search your brand terms it’s a billboard for your company and not a liability.
Tip 1: You First Have To Be Aware – Review Your Current Online Reputation
You can only change what you are aware of, there’s probably some stuff out there about your business that you’re not aware of so the first thing you should do is uncover it.
You might be asking yourself, how can I do that?
It’s relatively simple, I like to start by looking at the businesses Google Search Console and seeing what searches led to the customers reaching their site. But you don’t want to look for the main keywords you want to look for the variations where the customer is asking a question they need to be answered. If you’re a building contractor these searches might be something like:
- Best builder in location
- Is company legit
- Is the company a scam
- Review of company
- Customer review of the company
- Is the company the best builder in the location
The reason this is so powerful is that these are searches that actually led to your website therefore it means real people are searching for it.
From here I take these terms along with any branded terms such as:
- Company builder
- Company building contractor
- Company building services
And search it in google from an incognito window. The reason we use an incognito window is that your search results are influenced by your cookies and previous search history and using incognito helps to avoid this.
Just take a look at the first page when you search these queries and see whether it’s a billboard for your company or a liability. If it’s a billboard you’re all good and don’t have to worry too much about it (although later in the article we’re going to give away something super helpful just for you).
If when you search you find yourself looking at lots of liabilities then you really need to consider your online reputation management strategy.
Tip 2: Analyse The Liabilities
Closing the search and not looking isn’t going to get rid of these liabilities so you need to begin to analyse them and see what you can do about them.
If for example when you search there’s a popular review platform like TripAdvisor, Yellow Pages, Google Reviews and it’s got a low star rating the approach is going to be different to if the search results page is filled with negative reviews on blog posts.
While this is a very brief overview of the analysis stage there are too many caveats and it would turn to an article in itself.
But here are some basic rules, if it’s a review platform with low star ratings your strategy has to revolve around getting more reviews to that platform from your happy customers. If it’s blog posts you need to either get them taken down which can sometimes be done through a lawyer or you need to find more powerful websites that can outrank these pages and push them off of the first page. The reason you need more powerful websites is that Google heavily relies on the strength of a website for its ranking algorithm. A popular measure for website power is Moz’s DA, but this measurement isn’t without its flaws.
Tip 3: Don’t Be Afraid To Admit Your Were Wrong
When it comes to negative reviews we often see that clients ignore them and they don’t want to try to resolve the issue or even worse they go on the offensive. There is nothing wrong with admitting you made a mistake and trying to right the issue, especially in a public forum where everyone can see that you’re trying to do the right thing. While this isn’t going to save your star rating on review platforms if people decide to take a look and see this they are more likely to feel empathy towards you and your business trying to correct the situation.
Using communication effectively holds true for fake reviews as well. If your business is actually being attacked by fake reviews we recommend commenting on the reviews that your business has no history of working with the customer name left for the review but you are happy to look into it if they can provide details of the order. Again, if people are looking at the reviews and they see this they might empathise with the fact you are being hammered by fake reviews and look past the star rating that is being displayed.
Unfortunately, this is a minority of customers that will take the time to do so, so the issue still needs to be resolved.
Tip 4: Building The Boat Before The Flood
This is the tip that I mentioned earlier would be useful for you even if your online reputation is squeaky clean at the moment. While your reputation might be fine now that isn’t to say that it won’t have issues in the future, one of the things we recommend to everyone who is a business owner is to build the boat before the flood comes.
So how do you do this?
There are many ways that you can do this, the first is one that most business owners know and that is to collect reviews from happy customers. Create a system that allows you to have a steady flow of these reviews coming in. The exact method of doing this will vary from business to business, if you’re an eCommerce site selling products it might be done via automated email flows, if you’re a local service business it might be done on your final meeting with the client.
The second is one that most business owners aren’t aware of, that is you should be looking to get high powered websites posting positively about your business as early as possible. The reason for this is because firstly it creates a barrier to entry for a new website that might create a negative blog post about your business. What I mean by this is if there are already 10 really positive articles about your business they will have to knock one down to get onto the first page of Google’s search results.Secondly, the age of the page in Google is a ranking factor so it’s harder for these new, negative blog posts to knock down ones that have been there for a long time.
Having these posts as a fortress gives you some time to react as if when you’re analysing your reputation management you notice one the 2nd page of Google a new article that is going to be a liability you can start to use some more advanced reputation management strategies to keep it on the second page. There’s a reason people joke that they wish they could hide a dead body on the 2nd page of Google. It’s because barely anyone reaches the 2nd page – think back to when the last time you went to the 2nd page it was probably a very long time ago.
We really hope that this article helps to provide some clarity to the world of online reputation management to business owners and if you need a hand with it for your business we’re happy to have one of our team members talk with you and see if you’re a good fit to work with Reputica.
This article Reputica’s Top Tips To Keep Your Online Reputation Intact appeared first on Entrepreneurship In A Box by Dragan Sutevski
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