Technology October 21, 2016 Last updated October 19th, 2016 1,198 Reads share

Winning with Online Reviews: 3 Ways to Build Your Online Reputation Today

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Obtaining a large number of online reviews is crucial for excelling in your digital marketing. In particular, making sure that the balance of those reviews is positive will increase your conversion rate significantly. As a business owner, you can’t afford to neglect the cultivation of online reviews. They can mean the difference between being among the top few Google results, being on the first page, and dropping off the first page to obscurity. In this post, we will examine three specific steps you can take for reputation management to bring you more traffic and more customers.

#1. Get Onto Review Sites

Especially for local search, having a presence on relevant ratings sites is one of the most important ways you can appear higher on searches. First of all, you need to create an account for yourself on the Google My Business service. This will let Google users leave you reviews, put you on Google Map results, give your business its own panel with the name, address, and phone number, and generally place much more information in front of searchers. Being on Google My Business is also a big boost to your ranking, and you don’t even need a website to do it.

Aside from Google My Business, you need to find out which are the best and most relevant review sites for your industry. For example, if you are a restaurant, then you have to get on Yelp. It’s the leading platform for reviews and most people’s first stop when they are looking for a place to eat. It’s critical that you build up a long history of reviews and information that potential customers can access. If you are operating a hotel, the primary review site to focus on is TripAdvisor. For just about every business, Google reviews should be a top priority as well.

Not only do places like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google give customers information, they also give you a massive SEO boost. When you do a local search for a restaurant, it is very common for the entire first page of results to consist of Yelp pages. These often take precedence even over the official websites of the business.

Don’t neglect Facebook, either. It’s a venue for online reviews and information just like any other site, and any business can have their own Facebook page. Facebook is massively popular and accessible. That makes it an easy way to acquire lots of reviews, feedback, and social engagement while improving your SEO position and online reputation.

#2. Gather As Many Online Reviews As Possible

One of the biggest problems that businesses face is that they just cannot accumulate many reviews on their chosen platforms. They are present, but the lack of information gives users and Google’s ranking algorithm little to work with. Even if the reviews are not as positive as you might like, it is important to get that feedback so you know how to improve and your visitors have the information to decide whether to visit you.

There’s a few things you can do to get more online reviews, but a lot of it depends on your industry and audience. For example, younger customers tend to dislike being asked to leave feedback, so you can’t be too forward about asking them for reviews.

Try to leverage email subscribers, Facebook followers, and any other social connections you have to reach out and ask for feedback. Those customers are more likely to respond because they are already connected to you on some level, so they are more invested in your brand. This is a good group to offer incentives, as well, because it is logistically easy to do and has a good chance of garnering feedback.

However, be very careful about how you offer incentives. While its ok to make a small offer to collect private feedback, you should never incentivize for reviews. This is a practice that is generally frowned upon and has gotten some businesses bad publicity.

#3. Get Good Reviews

Once you are ready to get reviews on good platforms and you can start generating lots of reviews, you’ll need to do your best to make sure that you get good reviews. Part of that comes down to responding to feedback and improving your quality. Another part of that is trying to influence who leaves online reviews to make sure you get the most positive feedback.

For the first point, it is very tempting to respond directly to negative reviews. This is almost always a bad idea. It makes your business look petty and defensive, discourages other people from leaving reviews, and gives customers the impression that you don’t care about their impressions. The only kind of response you should leave is a simple and professional statement about a specific way you have improved your business to respond to a customer’s specific complaint. Even that is not strictly necessary.

When you see a certain complaint, you need to put your ego and emotions aside and think about whether you need to make a change. This is especially true when something comes up in multiple reviews, because it means that it bothers a lot of people. Don’t be resistant to change when the customers want it, but don’t give in to every suggestion you see, either. It takes balance to maintain your online reputation.

There is lots of valuable in feedback in your positive reviews as well. If you see a trend in your positive reviews, try and maximize the opportunities and scale up on what is working. This can help to improve your overall customer experience, which can then help to increase your sales and bring in even more reviews.

Lastly, while ethically you can’t request good online reviews or otherwise affect what a customer will say, you can ask customers who like your brand to review it. Going back to the restaurant example, approach repeat customers or those who are clearly having a good time and offer them a discount or coupon to leave you online reviews. It’s likely to be positive and you’ll bring them back for another meal.

The bottom line is that reviews are so important for your success that you need to invest time and effort into getting as much feedback as possible. Remember that this is not just for digital marketing. Online reviews can provide you with valuable feedback about how your business is performing.

Image: Review Assessment Auditing Evaluate Concept

Eric Welke

Eric Welke

I built my first website in 2005. While working towards my MBA, I launched a digital agency in 2010. In 2016, I cofounded a technology startup that is now my primary focus. Over the years as a marketing consultant and online entrepreneur, I have become an expert on many aspects of the digital world. I am an accomplished brand strategist, SEO, web designer and marketer, and a burgeoning PHP developer.

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