I just got a call this morning from one of my clients, telling me he had a funny story to share. A prospect had found his website using a Google search, read his blog post (which I wrote on his behalf), read reviews on the web and mentioned ones she saw on Angie’s List. The prospect, being a business owner herself, chuckled about the few bad reviews on Angie’s List where no work was performed.
In particular the most recent review which criticized a high bid/quote. My client’s reply to this review was that he felt it was rather strange to get such a review when he did not supply a quote and suggested this individual contact another business that would be better suited to perform the work requested. In essence, he said it was not the type of work he would do and did not quote the work.
Reputation Management 101
First, put into place a Listening Program.
This entails creating things like a Google alert on your business name or products. This way you can receive an email when someone posts something about your business online. Do a Google Search on your business name or brands, see where you turn up. Add the word “Reviews” to your search and you can see where you already have some reviews posted online. Most common places are like Google, Yahoo/Bing, Yelp, Facebook, and a variety of places that might be important to your business. Here is a partial list and be sure to include the common ones:
|Restaurants||Urban Spoon, zagat, opentable|
|Hotels, motels||Trip Advisor, Fodors, Oyster, zagat, Travel sites themselves|
|Construction||Angie’s List, BuildZoom, Houzz|
|Healthcare providers||Healthgrades, Ratemds, webmd, vitals, doctorscorecard, everyday health, DRscore|
Manage your Online Reputation
Be sure to take ownership of the major online directories. This means managing the content on the directory, placing keyword rich information, photos, contact information, and proper links back to your website. Then you should receive alerts if anyone posts a review on this site. Pay particular attention to how many review there are on this site for your competitors.
Answer All Reviews and Don’t Take it Personal
I have said that good customer service is expected, outstand and negative gets reviewed. Your job as a business owner is to reply to all reviews both good and bad. You humbly thank people that posted a good review, and answer in a positive manner a negative review. Remember not to take it personal, I know that is hard to do. Step back let it rest over night and then write a thoughtful reply, thanking the person for their comments and something to turn the antagonist into an advocate. This is not always easy nor is it 100% possible, but by making the attempt, others that read your reply, will think more highly of you than the person that created the negative review. Be sure to be prompt in any reply, don’t wait weeks to reply, it should be within days of the review posting.
Just as in the case of my client, his prospect told him that she had read the reviews which helped her make a decision to buy from him.
Ask for Reviews and Recommendations
Be open and provide your customers an easy way to find places where you would like them to leave an comments. You want to know, both good or bad what your customers think. This gives you an opportunity to look more human and not appear as a non-caring inanimate business.
Reputation Management and SEO
And that brings me to why managing your online reputation is so important and should be embraced by you…SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Search Engines do count reviews very highly in ranking your online presence. This touches your Off-Page SEO and not your website or On-Page SEO. Reviews on Google My Business in particular will boost your Local Search Optimization.
Word of Mouth Marketing Still Matters
People are reading reviews to make purchase decisions. Things have not really changed that much; “Word of Mouth,” or what people say and think about your business, has not changed since the beginning of time. The only thing that has changed is that now they can say things about your business online for everyone to find. Better to be proactive, listen and engage is those conversations online that are already talking about you.