In my post about SEO for local search engine results, you might recall that my search resulted in the Google 3-Pack showing a few Little Rock dermatologists. When you go back and look at the image in that post, you’ll notice that not one of the doctors in the 3-Pack has a single review. When people search for a business, Google understands that, very often, proximity is more important than popularity. But that’s not the whole enchilada.
It’s important that you don’t think that, just because your name pops up in the 3-Pack box, you’re a shoe-in for the searcher’s business. Popularity (or lack thereof) counts for a lot when someone’s looking for your business.
Search engines and searchers see positive customer reviews as “yes votes” for your business.
What others think about you (and your business) matters. According to Pew Research Center, 82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items or services for the first time, and 40% say they always or almost always do. business.
And, when it comes to the tone of those reviews, more people reported being influenced by highly negative reviews rather than being influenced by highly positive ones. Fifty-four percent of Americans who read online reviews said that they pay more attention to extremely negative reviews when trying to make decisions, while 43% pay more attention to extremely positive ones. So, proactively working to manage your reputation online can yield incredible results in search marketing.
Make no mistake: Your customers are talking to their friends and strangers about your business. They’re tweeting about a bad service experience, leaving a positive comment on your blog, posting a Facebook update about your new product, and more. You need to take the reins and control the flow of these reviews. Here are a few ideas to help pave the way to a successful reputation management program:
You can easily find review software services that can be programmed to send post-sale emails to customers asking what they thought of your product or service.
Make sure they’re available in the most relevant channels for your business – Facebook, Yelp, Google+, or specialty sites like Houzz, HealthGrades, etc. And don’t forget publishing them to your website! These reviews help improve search results, traffic from search, and referrals from existing customers.
You absolutely need to respond to negative feedback, but don’t be defensive or aggressive; that’s a recipe for a public relations disaster. Just ask the owners of the infamous Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro, which was featured on an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares.” Work to address legitimate issues in your business when they are raised and then outpace negative feedback with a far greater quantity of positive reviews.
Social media monitoring can be both DIY (Google Alert is an example of a free web monitoring tool accessible to anyone) and conducted by a professional monitoring company, depending on the size of the business involved.
The ultimate tool to get positive reviews is to deliver great products and services to customers.
No amount of proactive reputation management, as helpful as it is, can fix poor products and services.
But once you have it right, Reputation Management is a key ingredient to improved search engine rankings, more leads through digital referrals and overall growth of your local business.