How to Protect Your Small Business’s Online Reputation

A great online reputation is one of the best assets a small business can have. Information online tells potential customers and business partners whether they can trust your company. When people can’t find information — or they don’t like what they find — it hurts your business.

In a 2017 survey conducted by BrightLocal, 97 percent of customers reported they look online to find information about local businesses. When what they find is positive, 73 percent trust that local business more. In fact, 85 percent of consumers report they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

This is information small business owners can’t afford to ignore. If you want a strong online reputation for your business, these are the steps to take.

Build Your Online Presence

Every business needs an online presence that makes them easy to find and communicate with online. These are the most important places to establish your online presence:

  • Search engine listings: Online listings provide customers basic information about your business, like your website, address, and hours. Google My Business is the most important place to list your business, but not the only one. VerticalResponse lists six more listings that are essential for local businesses.
  • Your website: A website is an important platform for customer engagement and support. Website builders make it possible for anyone to create a basic website, but hire a professional if you want a specific look.
  • Social media: Your business doesn’t need to be on every social media platform. Choose the platforms where your target demographic is most active. It’s better to have a strong brand presence on a select few platforms than a widespread, but content-poor presence.

Cultivate Positive Reviews

Customers are on the lookout for positive, authentic reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. They’re also paying attention to how you respond to negative reviews. But you can’t spend all day watching for incoming reviews. These tips help your business manage reviews efficiently:

  • Use a review management platform: Review management tools instantly notify you of new reviews and increase the visibility of positive reviews so customers get a positive impression of your business. Business owners can also generate reports on review trends in order to identify what’s working and what’s not.
  • Encourage positive reviews: Many customers don’t leave a review until something goes wrong. To get more positive reviews, business owners must be proactive. When you know you’ve provided a great customer experience, request a review. Marketing Land says face-to-face requests are best, followed by email.
  • Improve the customer experience: The most tried-and-true way to improve online reviews is by delivering a superior customer experience. If you run a medical office, use tools to shorten patient wait times and make payment processing seamless. If you’re selling a product or service, get feedback through customer surveys. And for any business, fix problems when they happen so customers don’t walk away unhappy.

Know When People are Talking About Your Business

Not all chatter related to your business happens on review sites or your company’s social media page. Here’s how you can keep track of what customers are saying around the web:

  • Create Google Alerts: Google Alerts informs you when your business is mentioned online. All business owners have to do is set up Google Alerts with keywords specific to their business.
  • Use social media monitoring: Google Alerts doesn’t monitor social media mentions. To know when people are talking about your business on social media and respond quickly, you need a social media monitoring tool. Social Media Today lists the best monitoring tools on the market.

Staying on top of your online reputation is a lot of work. As a small business owner, the last thing you want is another task on your schedule. But with the right tools, you can leverage your online reputation into a tool that grows your business.

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