I think most business owners try their hardest to provide a good experience for their customers. What you might not realize is no matter the goodness of your intentions, you must manage your reputation online and offline. Coming from a place of integrity your reputation is one of your most valuable assets when it comes to marketing.
When I talk about marketing, I break it into three parts, Free, Cheap, and Expensive. Reputation Management can fall into 2 parts, Free and Cheap. It should not be overlooked or underestimated. Your in-person reputation comes from treating others with respect, living up to your commitments, and dealing with people honestly. Your online reputation is primarily focused on two aspects, your reviews and your technical SEO setup which is what it takes to get the search engines to trust and refer your website.
The point of today's article is to give you the tools to manage your online reputation. Here are some stats to show you the value of managing your online reputation.
Online Reputation Stats
90% of consumers say they look at online reviews before making a purchasing decision
73% of all reviews in the world are on Google
35% of local business occurs in the map pack (top 3)
The map pack is when you search for something local, like restaurants or shops, you will see Google Maps pop up in regular search results.
Nearly 60% of consumers say they will drive further and pay more for a company with better reviews
46% of all Google searches have local intent
78% of searches result in an offline purchase
62% of customers will ignore a business if they can’t be found online
As you can see, your online reputation is very valuable. Let's talk about managing it so your business can get more customers based on your reputation.
First, I recommend setting up a Google Business Profile and a Facebook Business Page. These are the two largest platforms most customers will be familiar with. To set up your Google business platform, visit: https://www.google.com/business/
You can set up either a location or a service-specific profile, which means instead of people coming to your location, you go to their location. This setting is useful f if you are a home-based business or a service provider that operates in a large geographical area.
This will take some time to get approved because you will have to verify your information. Google does this to cut down on fraudulent companies listed in their search results. It may take some work, but going through the process will benefit you in the long run.
You can also set up a Facebook Business profile by visiting Facebook, clicking the profile picture in the top right corner, and then clicking “switch.” Once you click that, it will allow you to click “Create new profile”. Follow the prompts to create a business profile.
Once you have your Google Business Profile or your Facebook Business Page set up, you should nurture the profiles. Here are 5 simple steps to manage your profiles, and how to get more clients from them.
5 Steps to Managing Online Reviews to Get More Business
1. Send a Request to EVERY Customer
You probably have more happy customers than unhappy customers.
Reviews don’t always show that because negative reviews come from emotionally charged customers.
Get more positive reviews to combat negative reviews by asking for them.
Harvard Business survey found that by just emailing every customer asking for a review increased reviews by 8%. Texting takes that percentage even higher.
It is free to do this on your own. If you want to automate it, we have plans for that, which I will cover in a bit.
2. Make it Easy
It takes 7 steps for someone to leave you a review.
Remember to do it. Open Browser. Google your business. Find the right option. Click the reviews. Click leave a review, and then write the actual review. It's a lot of effort to ask people to make on your behalf. Unhappy customers will do it but it is tricky for others to do it unless you make it easy.
You can make this easier by breaking this down into 3 steps using Reputation Management (Birdeye by Connection Media Co.) software. You can also text or email them a direct link requesting a review.
Click the link. Click the platform they choose (Google or Facebook). Leave the review.
3. Address Negative Reviews Head-on
Don’t hide with your head in the sand
Hiding makes it look like you don’t care. People who don’t care are likely guilty of the terrible things people say about them.
Value the feedback
If you screwed up, admit it, and learn to be better in the future.
Often disputes come from a difference of opinion. I recommend looking at resolutions as marketing dollars. For example, if I can make someone happy, and it costs me money, it’s as good as money spent on advertising if I can get them to change their review, or not leave it in the first place.
Respond to the next person
Often there won’t be an easy way out of the situation, or no reasonable resolution will be possible. In these cases, respond maturely and think about what you would say to the person who is reading it later, deciding if you are trustworthy.
Keep a cool head
Do not get into a fight online. Everything is permanent once it's posted. Do your best to correct what you can and respond in kind, then move on. Stop thinking about it and remember what your mom likely told you: “You can’t please all of the people, all of the time.”
If you are at fault, do your best to rectify the problem, and you might get a revised review
People have been found to remove or correct bad reviews when a company corrects its errors. It won’t be everyone, but some might change their review, so it’s worth the effort.
4. Give Customers a Chance to Contact You Directly
It can also help if your review requesting process includes an option for people to reach you directly. Because sometimes, they will do that before leaving a bad review so that they can get the help they need.
By giving them a direct contact option, you can avoid many poor reviews because customers appreciate your willingness to hear them out
This also gives them a chance to speak their mind while not being public.
Once a review is posted, it’s no longer private and it is permanent.
5. Monitor Trends
This becomes especially important when you are expanding into multiple locations. Making sure your standards of service are upheld at each location, and that your vision is consistent. Reviews will help you be consistent.
Understand how your customers feel about your business.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Ensure consistency at every location.
There is one more very effective piece to this: Local Map Pack SEO. If you have a brick-and-mortar location you want people to visit, and you have a decent number of your competitors near you, the Local Map Pack might be the place to focus. Not only does it get you more reviews, but it also ensures you show up on maps when people are looking for your service.
Online, this is prime real estate for a local business. When we search for something we need Google’s goal is to show us the most accurate and relevant information. A Google Map Pack shows up on any local Google searches looking like this:
Typically 3 Locations
Most relevant results are shown in the top 3, and others are only seen by clicking “See More.”
42% are no-click interactions which are when people click your phone number, get directions, or just read the reviews about your company, but never click through to your website. People use Google to see if they want to trust a company.
Google Looks at 3 Distinct Things for Ranking on the Map
Google wants to make sure that your info is correct but, remember it is not humans who are looking at the millions of listings, it is their trained computer programs that verify these things—and these computer programs look for exactness. They want to know you are actually who you say you are. That means if your listing on Google Business says Suite 2-B, but on Facebook it says Suite 2B, Google will look down on this. Part of our Reputation Management system checks and corrects this across at least 30 directories to make sure you are 100% accurate across all platforms.
Backlinks and Listings
Backlinks are when other websites refer back to your website. This gives the computers at Google the sense that you are a reliable and authoritative business in your field in your area.
When our program sets up your listing and review system, we will set up at least 30 backlinks for your site. We can do more if we help you with our Map Pack SEO package, which puts a high-level focus on making sure your business can show up in the top 3.
Website is Helpful
In 2023 Google introduced a Helpful Content update, where Google changed the qualifications of what they like to see on your website. Here is Google’s summary of what this update does:
Google Search is always working to better connect people to helpful information. To this end, we're launching what we're calling the “helpful content update” as part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.
They want real content, not keyword-heavy content written for computers. We have all seen websites like that before. Make your website real and have good content that helps people know what you do and why you do it. We can help you with this too, if you need it. See more here.
It is also good to add supporting material to your profiles on either Google or Facebook. Our Google Maps SEO includes posting to your Google Profile to ensure your profile shows your authority and expertise. This is also considered helpful and will increase your ranking.
Here are Some Other Things Google Considers Important
Quality: 38% of customers require 4 stars or higher. Because this is important to customers, Google wants this too. That means they will show higher review scores more frequently and closer to the top of search results.
Quantity: 31% of consumers read more than 10 reviews. Google looks for the number of reviews as an indicator of the business's authority and legitimacy.
Recentness (Google calls this Velocity): 85% of Consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are irrelevant. Newer reviews are more important now than the number of reviews. If a business has 300 old reviews and a competitor comes in and gets a bunch of new reviews, this will score better than the larger number of older reviews.
Things Google Doesn’t Like:
Fake or purchased reviews.
Missing or outdated info (e.g., addresses or services you no longer offer).
Keyword stuffing, e.g., “Justin’s Pizza Joint in Ogden” isn’t necessary because Google already knows where you are, and they don’t like people trying to game the system.
Make Your Profile Appealing With:
100 photos or more.
Being 100% accurate.
Click through to Correct Info, if someone sees your listing and clicks on services, it shouldn’t go to your homepage, and it should also show up directly on your services page.
As I said before, you can do much of this for free. Do what you can while you are starting and don’t have the budget to spend on having it done for you. When you are ready to have some help in this regard, here are the details of the system we offer.
Connection Media Co. is an authorized Birdeye reseller, one of the top reputation management companies in the world. There are quite a few offerings as part of the Birdeye service, but to start, we recommend the Reviews and Listings plan.
Starting at $300/month, we will set up a program to help you get more reviews and identical listings across at least 30 directories. We will also automate the process so that every one of your customers gets a review request along with a reminder, so they remember to do it. This will increase reviews significantly. It will also help you get your listings across directories in exactly the same way. Directories are things like Google Business Profile, Facebook Business Page, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Dex, Apple Maps, etc.
Our Local Maps SEO is much more involved, allowing us to help rank you up in increasing circles of radius around your location. It starts at $1100/month, which includes 3 keywords, profile management, and reviews. This can be very powerful for the right kind of local brick-and-mortar business.
As always, we customize marketing recommendations for every company we work with, so if you aren’t sure what you need, please ask, or set up a time for a free consultation.
When you don’t have the money, make sure to spend your time managing this yourself, and then, as you get busier, spend some of your marketing budget on reputation management, it is worth it. You can read more about our reputation management service here. You will also be able to run a free reputation scan with our free tool through Birdeye.