Small Businesses and Online Reputation Management
Date : Jun 09, 2020
Author : Isaac Addo
Categories : Business Tips
You own a bakery in Liverpool in the UK. Things are going well – customers love you, and there is a steady profit throughout the year. But there’s a catch. Only a handful of customers who live nearby, know your bakery.
A quick Google search one beautiful day shows you that your competitors are promoting their businesses online. “It’s called online reputation management”.You should do it too,” some well-wisher educates you on the importance of online reputation management. But this leaves you hanging.
• What is online reputation management?
• How do I get my business in on this?
• What benefits does it offer?
• Is it going to be expensive?
Well, if these were your initial thoughts, you are not alone. There are so many individual contractors and small business owners like you who are unsure and unaware of the importance of online reputation (ORM).
Simply put, ORM is branding your business online on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook to drive more footfall to your offline store. With this definitive guide, you will learn all about online reputation management.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation is how customers see you when they look up your business online. Online reputation management is taking control of this and incorporating strategies and techniques to ensure that your customers land on the right materials when they search for your business on the internet.
What is the Importance of Online Reputation?
How potential customers view a brand is the only thing that separates successful businesses from unsuccessful ones. Building a positive brand image is in your hands, and you can achieve it step-by-step through online reputation management.
How to Fix Your Online Reputation?
Online reputation can be categorically placed in two cycles – the Vicious Cycle and the Virtuous Cycle.
Online Reputation Management through the Vicious Cycle
Your business is negatively affected by a vicious cycle. It happens when you ignore your brand information online. The sequence progresses like this:
1. Your online business space features poor, misleading, and sub-standard content.
2. People naturally tend to click on links with scandalous content.
3. Search engines use this engagement and continue featuring them.
4. Social media further amplifies this.
5. The follow-up commentary and afterthoughts create more traffic that validates this negative image.
You have to find experts who know how to fix your online reputation. This is an expensive and time-consuming effort.
Online Reputation Management through the Virtuous Cycle
If you pay heed to your online reputation since the beginning, you create a positive cycle of quality and premium informative content that reflects well on your business. The sequence progresses like this:
1. Up to date, good-quality, and accurate content gets ranked higher on search engines.
2. When people look you up, they click on relevant results about your business, products or services.
3. Search engines continue promoting these links because users favour them.
4. Social media comes into play and amplifies these results.
5. The follow-up content, media coverage, and positive brand building generate more links and relevant traffic that validates your business.
Prevention is better than cure, and if you take control of managing your reputation online since the beginning, your business will continue being in the good books of your customers.
Online Reputation Management for Small Businesses Involves Two Main Things:
1. Identification of online resources (such as a business review directory online) that customers might turn to, to learn more about your business; and,
2. Taking steps to ensure that these resources showcase your business in a positive light.
If a potential customer searches for you online and comes up with information about your competitors instead, it will not bode well for your business. The underlying goal of any business is the growth of the customer base and increasing the revenue. However, you don’t have to invest all your hard-earned money to achieve this. If you’re savvy, you can manage your online reputation without burning a hole in your pocket. The four practices discussed below will teach you how to protect your reputation online or build one from scratch.
How to Protect your Reputation Online in 4 Simple Ways:
1. Google My Business
2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
3. Business review directory online
There are several other techniques such as social media monitoring and slander investigations, but they’re for larger enterprises and global businesses. For small and medium companies, sticking to essentials is the best practice.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a free tool that connects potential customers with your business on Google Maps and Google search results. Creating a business profile here is free. Just head on over to Google My Business Website to get started.
Add as much information as you can to your profile. Include hours of operation, services and products that you offer, industry vertical and category for your business, a well-detailed description, videos and photos that showcase your business, team, and customers, link to the appointment page, and your social media profiles.
One of the salient features of your Google My Business profile is the reviews section. Your customers have the option of leaving reviews and assessing your business on a scale of one-to-five.
So, how does online reputation management work on Google My Business?
You can begin by encouraging your customers to review your business. BrightLocal reports that nearly 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as they believe the traditional recommendations.
Next, respond to these reviews. The same study by BrighLocal says that 97% of customers who read online reviews also go through replies left by businesses. A crucial part of online reputation management is to respond to every review thoughtfully – whether good, bad, or average.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO today has become so comprehensive that it needs several dedicated posts even to get started.
It’s getting featured on the first few results when someone searches for your business, products, or services. For a small business, getting featured on the first page’s top results happens through its website or its social media profiles.
For websites to take the top position, they must be:
• Indexed – ensuring that the search engine stores your website in its digital library.
• Provided with a sitemap – this is a roadmap for all your site’s pages so that search engines index every page.
• Content-centric – the website must contain all the right keywords that lead potential customers to your site. “Best bakery in Liverpool”, or “top bakery shops in Liverpool” are few examples.
As far as social media profiles go, you can link them to the footer of your site. This will direct search engines to endorse those pages and help your business rank better.
Business Review Directory
Business directories are a critical step in online reputation management cycle.
Listing your business on a reputed business review directory online helps bring relevant customers to your store. Prime examples of this are RateUsOnline, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. Just like Google My Business, you can add the necessary details of your business and let customers voice their honest opinions and share their experiences.
But Why do you need a Business Directory when there’s Google My Business?
A study performed by Burke reports that 8 out of 10 people look up products or companies in print or online directories. The same study also points out that 8 out of 10 people locate businesses with the intent of purchasing from them. Business review directory online is a handy format of targeted advertising. The advantage being –the customer, already requires a product or service that you provide.
SEO is an expensive affair. Not every small business has a big budget to go overboard with AdWords campaigns, hiring in-house digital marketers, and churning out content daily. A business review directory online brings customers directly to your business listing, without rummaging through a sea of information.
RateUsOnline has an effortless onboarding and listing process.
Just click on “Add business” on the home page to get started.
The final step in your online reputation management cycle is Facebook. Square’s recent survey shows that around 52% of 1,800 customers have discovered a new business on Facebook. This goes on to explain that businesses have incredible potential for growth on social media.
However, whether your business benefits from this or not depends on how much effort you put into your Facebook page.
For this, head over to the Creation Centre and fill in:
• Name of your business
• Profile picture
• Operational hours
• Contact details
• Cover photo – choose wisely, it’s the first thing people notice when they land on your page
Next, set up the reviews section and share it with your existing customers for adding reviews, and don’t forget to respond to each review individually. Keep sharing exciting tit-bits, trivia, deals, content pieces to keep the engagement up.
So, there you go. Online reputation management made easy in 4 simple steps. Hopefully, this will help your business gain exposure and traction in the future.