The reputation of your company can make or break you, especially online. When a customer searches for your business name, its usually because they want to know more about you and the experience that others have had using your service. This is why encouraging your frequent and loyal customers to leave reviews is so important. Having excellent reviews can sway a new customer’s decision in using your service as opposed to your competitors. Many business owners ask, “I have excellent testimonials on my site! Why do I need reviews?” While many companies have testimonials on their own websites from happy customers, they are not as trust-worthy as reviews on a third party site because the company chooses what is written and published.
The first step in reputation management is finding out what your reputation really is. Business owners may be delusional or in denial of what others think of their business. A quick search for your business name on Google will tell you exactly what the public thinks of you. Normally, you’ll see the results show your website, social media pages like Twitter and Facebook and popular review sites like Yelp or BBB. If there are negative reviews, you can immediately tell by the star rating on Yelp, the grade on BBB or or results from sites like ripoffreport.com.
If your business does have negative reviews, it WILL be a challenge to suppress those. To be successful, you must create or build pages that are more authoritative in rank than the negative listings. This can be difficult because popular review sites have a lot of authority. You can start by building links to a positive news story, review or blog posts about your company. Publishing optimized press releases or blog posts on a regular basis will also help dilute the amount of negative reviews that show up on the first page. This is why having a blog on your website is so important.
In addition to pushing out positive content, you can respond to the negative reviews. Be wary of doing this as you do not want to come off as defensive or condescending. If you respond thoughtfully and take the customer’s frustrations into consideration, you may be able to convince them to update their review or remove it altogether.
So how long does it take? The bad news is it can take a year or more to “bury” bad reviews. In many cases, these efforts will eventually work but an ongoing effort will be needed to see the effects lasts. But sometimes, if you have too many negative reviews, they can be too strong to overcome permanently and they will continue to creep their way up, regardless of how much effort you put in.
Don’t let a bad reputation ruin your business, especially in our modern age where information is at a customer’s fingertips and anybody can post anything on the internet. My tip for business owners is to deal with unhappy customers immediately before they have a chance to post about it on review sites for everyone to see.