Your Online Reputation Can Make or Break Your Business

Make it easy for your customers to decide to do business with you by managing and nurturing your online reputation.

A Nightmare Started Here

Some time ago, a friend of mine called me in a panic. He had been in business for over 50 years (his grandfather started his business in the 1950s), and they have a great word-of-mouth reputation and are experts in their business. For whatever reason, he had a client relationship that went south. We’ve all had them, and it happens.

This client decided to take it out on him, and write a “review” about how no one should hire him. She copied this very long tirade onto every website she could find that would allow her to do so, starting with Yelp. He called because if you searched his company name on Google, guess what showed up right at the top? The Yelp page that said, “DO NOT HIRE THIS COMPANY…”

Yikes.

The biggest problem was that my friend hadn’t done anything to manage his online reputation.

So the only “review” he had was from this nutcase. It was hurting his business, and as I’ve said many times, “If people don’t trust you, they won’t give you their money.”

There are lots of ways to build trust, but one of the most important that many businesses overlook is your online reputation. You have MANY options to building your online reputation, but some are more effective and important than others.

Unfortunately, many business owners are afraid of getting a bad review on these review sites, so they sort of bury their heads in the sand and hope it doesn’t happen to them. Unfortunately, people are more likely to leave a negative review when they’re pissed off, than a positive review when they’ve had a great experience. It’s just the nature of the beast, because we expect great service. When it doesn’t happen, that’s when people will take it out on you.

How To Build an Online Reputation

If you have not done so already, please go out and create or claim your listing on Yelp. You may already have a business profile there. You must claim that listing and own it.

You want to be able to manage the content, address, photos, and other information on that listing. It won’t cost you anything to take over the listing, and I do not advocate spending advertising with Yelp ads (that’s a whole separate subject for another article some day).

Secondly, go set up a business listing on Google+ for your business. You have to have a personal account on Google+ to get started, and then you can set up your business listing.

Both of these systems, by far, are the most influential pages you can set up that will show up on the search engines, especially Google.

When people search for your type of business or even your business name, these two systems will show up more often than not in the search results. Google has changed the local listings now to a “3-pack” from the older “7-pack”. Once you’ve set these up, it’s very important that you start nurturing reviews on these two pages from your happy customers. It’s easy to do, and the more you do, the more likely you’ll show up in the 3-pack.

If someone tells you that they had a great experience with your company, say, “Hey, I really appreciate the feedback! Would you mind doing me a small favor and say something on our Yelp or Google+ page?” Most of them will say, “Sure!”

They probably just didn’t think about doing it, so a little nudge helps. Just ask the client once, and let them decide. Some will do it, some won’t. By the way, NEVER e-mail all your customers at once. You want to build your reviews SLOWLY over time. If you suddenly get 40 5-star reviews in a week, Yelp will probably just take your listing down. They only want “natural” reviews that show up over a long time.

What Happens If You Get a Bad Review?

This is the thing that scares most business owners. If you have one bad review and no other reviews, that looks really bad. Think about the products on Amazon.com. You read the reviews before you insert money, right? If a product has one bad review and nothing else, people will believe it, and won’t buy.

However, if you have 23 5-star reviews and get a bad review, people will dismiss the bad review as being from a “whiner”.

Even better, if you respond professionally to the bad review (Yelp lets you do that), and say something like, “Mrs. Smith, we’re sorry you had a bad experience. Please contact us for a full refund, or let us have the chance to make it right.” By doing that, you can turn a bad situation into a positive, or at least show people that you care.

This is why you need to start nurturing your reviews from your happy customers NOW before you do get that bad review.

This article originally appeared here: https://blog.bayareasearchengineacademy.org/tips/your-online-reputation-can-make-or-break-your-business/

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