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From The Queen of Local SEO, Bernadette Coleman

Local Search Made Easy: Reputation Management and Reviews

How’s business? After all, the reason technologies like Advice Local exist, and the reason we provide this blog as a resource is for you to grow your business. I hope you’ve been able to implement some of these practical tips from my back to basics look at local search and SEO. Let’s dive back in, shall we?

It’s said that the internet is written in ink; once you put information out there, it lives on forever. You don’t have to look too far for recent examples of flubs, written and verbal, which landed people, brands and businesses in hot water.

Despite the best of intentions, there is usually distance between standards and actual implementation. Whether an issue starts at home, within the brand, or comes from reviews posted online, it is the responsibility of the brand to own their reputation.

A Business’s Reputation Can Make or Break It

Did you know 88 percent of consumers read reviews to help them make decisions about the quality of a local business? Very few will do business with a brand who doesn’t rate well online. Only 13 percent are willing to consider using a business with a one- or two-star rating.

Customers review your company’s products and services on sites such as Google, Bing, Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Trip Advisor, Zagat, Zomato and many, many more. Multiple controllable factors determine the ratings received; but individual opinion cannot be contained. It’s of vital importance to monitor these comments and encourage satisfied customers to leave their thoughts on their site of choice.

Three Steps to Succeeding in the Wild West of Online Reviews

1. Identify the Why

After determining the veracity of the review, ask yourself what caused the customer to leave the review. If it’s a glowing review, great service or a stellar experience probably led the customer to gush about the business. However, for negative reviews, you’ll want to identify factual reasons, not just opinions for the complaint. This keeps things professional as you address it. Here’s more on responding to negative reviews.

2. Respond with Class

Be sure to thank those customers who leave positive reviews, but that’s not really difficult, is it? You’ll also want to thank and address those who leave critical, even scathing reviews. Be brief, but sincere in your public response and let the customer know you want to take care of the issue. Invite them to discuss it with you offline. Do what you can to diffuse the situation, remembering to focus on the facts, keeping customer satisfaction top of mind. Sometimes customers who originally have a complaint will go back and update a review to let others know the situation was resolved.

3. Promote Positive Reviews

This is where it’s OK to toot your own horn! If your business has a number of positive reviews, especially across multiple sites, shout it out on social media and your website. This is also a great way to overcome negative reviews. Encourage customers to leave reviews by including “Please Review Us On…” on your marketing materials. Address issues, so that behavior changes or look into policies that may need to change to be more consumer-friendly. Resist the temptation to create false positive reviews or to delete negative reviews as both of these affect your company’s integrity and will cause you to lose trust. Here’s more on asking for reviews.

Taking care of customers on site and online will help you manage your reputation from the outset. Carefully monitor your brand’s response, take care of what you can, but remember, some things are outside of your control.

Do you have any great review stories you’d like to share? Tell me about it in the comments!

Be sure to come back and learn from the #QueenofLocalSEO each week.

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