2021 Guide to Online Business Reputation Management

Reputation management involves responding to online comments, reviews, and discussions about your business

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If you’ve ever read through Amazon reviews or looked up a business’ Facebook and Instagram pages before deciding to use their services. You’re one of the 75% of consumers who rely on reviews to make purchase decisions. That’s why online reputation management (ORM) is increasingly vital for a business. You can offer an amazing product or service, but your business can suffer from negative online reviews or a lack of reviews which can affect the trust that consumers have in your business.

However, online reputation management isn’t only used when there’s a crisis. It is a continuous process to help build a strong reputation online and maintain it at all times. A good reputation doesn’t just happen, and if you don’t manage your reputation online, consumers and competitors will.

By actively managing your online reputation, you can reduce negative customer feedback and maintain a strong online presence. Here’s what you need to know about online business reputation management.

Reach New Customers & Strengthen Your Relationship With Existing Ones

When people search for your company on search engines like Google, they might find reviews from past customers or even an article comparing you with your competitors. If all or most of the research results and reviews are positive, then it will be easier to convert your potential customers into buyers and build long-term relationships with existing ones.

Reputation management involves responding to online comments, reviews, and discussions about your business
Reputation management involves responding to online comments, reviews, and discussions about your business

How does Online Reputation Management work?

Online reputation management requires the use of several strategies, including keyword protection, reputation monitoring, review responses, and onsite feedback.

There are some uncontrollable elements since a customer can post anything they want. This is why reputation management focuses on how companies respond to online discussions surrounding their businesses.

Who reads online reviews?

Online reviews play a crucial role in making your brand look trustworthy, both in the eyes of consumers and search engines.

Studies show that 91% of people occasionally or regularly read reviews on the internet, while 84% trust them. Negative reviews tend to have more impact than positive customer reviews. Average person is willing to spend 31 percent more on sellers with positive reviews.

The higher the star rating, the more effective your marketing efforts will be. They can improve your search rankings, increase your website page views, convert prospects fast, and increase your sales. However, you do need a certain number of reviews before you start to build credibility. It has been estimated that customers need at least 40 reviews on a website before they can trust its average star rating.

If you have negative reviews or no reviews at all, you might have some trouble generating business online. When potential customers do a quick search online and find that you have a lot of positive customer reviews on your website, they will naturally trust your brand more and this can strengthen your reputation. A good online reputation is so important that more and more businesses are reviewing their online reputation management strategy.

What is the purpose of an online review?

Studies show that 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. 94% say bad online reviews have persuaded them no to do business with a company again.

The inclusion of reviews on your website (both positive and negative) will allow you to collect customer feedback so that you can provide better products services to your customers. Moreover, reviews give potential customers an idea about the experience they can expect from your company.

Online reviews can help your business get noticed, boost Google rankings, inform your marketing strategy, and convince potential customers to contact you. Therefore, it’s extremely important to pay attention to your online reviews.

What are the four elements of reputation management?

A proper reputation management strategy should include the following key elements:

  • Visibility: Your company should have a strong web presence to ensure potential customers can easily find your products or services.
  • Transparency: When you get negative press or negative reviews, silence is not always golden. In some cases, it’s about being transparent, admitting what has happened, and showing how your business is going to mitigate the situation.
  • Authority: This is about building authority and respect for the business online and within your industry.
  • Consumer reputation: When people find you and interact with you, they often share their experiences with other users. A proper reputation management strategy should build trust with consumers.

What are the three phases of reputation management?

The three phases of reputation management are:

  • Reputation building
  • Monitoring Reputation
  • Reputation repair

Reputation building is a proactive approach where your business creates content that aligns with the brand in order to build reputation, forms partnerships or collaborations with reputable firms, or reach out to individuals or influencers.

Monitoring reputation is about monitoring social media networks, news platforms, and online search results to determine the action plan to build a business reputation and to manage any reputation risks.

Reputation repair is about suppressing the negative impact of negative press or negative reviews. This can involve responding to negative reviews, making a statement, or even pushing down search results that portray your business in a negative light.

Why are reviews important?

Online reviews play a vital role in the success of any online business. Studies show that 89% of potential customers read businesses’ responses to online reviews to determine what to purchase, which places to visit, and where to live or stay. This means consumers are watching how you respond.

Reviews can also influence Google rankings. According to a recent Moz study, review signals account for around 15% of ranking factors. The more positive reviews you get, the higher up your company will appear on the local search results.

Social proof increases sales and builds trust. In fact, 94% of customers say a high star rating makes them trust a company more.

How do I ensure my online reviews get me business?

By focusing on getting more positive customer reviews, you can increase your business’s profitability and growth without breaking the bank. A strategy for ensuring that you’re leveraging online reviews to get more business may include a program to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews, featuring the best reviews on your website and on your social media platforms, and even asking loyal customers to do video testimonials for you.

Who’s in control of your reputation?

A company or individual can’t control what others think. However, they can have some control over what users see and shape perceptions in that way.

You can be in control of your reputation. You can build it up to strengthen the trust that consumers have in your business and increase referral traffic. And take action to mitigate the negative impact of any bad reviews or negative media events.

What can I control about my reputation?

You can develop partnerships and collaborations with well-known local businesses so that you can be associated with them, increasing your trust and credibility in the eyes of consumers. Your branding can be cohesive across your social media channels and any touchpoints that you have with consumers. You can ask your best customers to leave positive customer reviews and video testimonials, which you can then use in your marketing efforts.

If you detect negative sentiment online, your brand can reach out to consumers for service recovery and mitigate the situation. If there has been a negative media event, making a statement can help you share “your side of the story” and exert some control over the narrative.

What can and can’t you control about your reputation?

The reality is that you can’t control what others think about you. Some people might think that you have total control because your business reputation depends on your behavior, and that’s true to a certain degree. However, you can’t have full control over how people perceive you.

Some people may admire you for a certain thing while others may dislike you for the same thing. Your company’s reputation may be distorted no matter how successful you are.

However, you can take a proactive approach to express your brand, promote positive reviews, and suppress negative reviews so that you can shape consumer perceptions of your business.

Niche Online Review Sites

While My Google Pages, Facebook, and Yelp are essential review sites that most businesses need to look at, don’t forget about niche online review sites like AVVO and Houzz for your local business. Reviews on these niche online review sites can help to supplement and improve your online reputation.

How can I monitor my reputation online?

There are several online channels to consider and several ways to stay on top of them. These include:

  • Monitoring review sites
  • Setting up Google Alerts
  • Monitoring the social media accounts of your business and your competitors
  • Monitoring your blog content and address any negative reviews

Using Search Engine Optimization To Influence Your Online Reputation

SEO is important for increasing your brand’s online presence, but it can also help build your online reputation. By ensuring good reviews rank higher than bad reviews, you can reduce the impact of bad reviews.

SEO includes various practices, including social media SEO, creating positive content, creating your business directory listings, and building high-quality backlinks to your online sites.

Social Proof Drives Business Online

Good reviews help build trust and can convince consumers to choose your products and services. According to a recent BrightLocal survey, 84% of potential customers regularly read online reviews to get the latest information about local businesses.

Social proof is commonly used by digital marketers to increase sales for their businesses. This leverages the tendency of people to look to the behavior of others when they are uncertain about something. Social proof can take various forms, including celebrity endorsements and customer testimonials. Personal testimonials and reviews from individual customers are equally important compared to endorsements from social media influencers or celebrities, as most people are savvy enough to know that influencers or celebrities are likely paid to promote a business.

Reviews and Listings Provide Great Search Engine Ranking

Online reviews are positive ranking signals that Google considers. You might have seen reviews and star ratings attached to Google search ads, and even been influenced to click a particular ad as a result.

By gathering more reviews on third-party sites and listings, you can bolster your Google search engine rankings and increase visibility for your business.

Where Should I List My Business Online?

If possible, you should have a listing on all the major review sites. Being on Facebook, Yelp, and Google My Business is almost essential in this day and age because these platforms have large user bases who write and read reviews regularly.

Once you’ve created your listing, you can then start to collect reviews and list out important details about your website. Increased consumer engagement with your business listing can be a sign to the review platforms that your listing is highly relevant and useful to users, which can result in more visibility and better rankings.

Here are the most popular online review sites.

Facebook Reviews

With Facebook Reviews, Facebook users can leave reviews about your business which are then visible to everyone. The trust associated with these reviews is high since users can see the personal profile of the reviewer, so positive reviews here can have a significant impact. There are also integrations available so that positive reviews on your website will also be posted on Facebook.

Yelp Business Reviews

Yelp has over 135 million users. Statistics show that a one-star increase on this platform results in a 5-9% increase in a company’s revenue. You can create your Yelp account, claim your listing, and place Yelp stickers in a prominent location in your offline location. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews for you on Yelp which will greatly improve your visibility as a local business.

Google My Business

Google uses location and distance ranking to provide optimized results. It allows users to find nearby businesses and provides reviews and rankings to help users make an informed decision.

Getting your company’s website optimized for search is a great way to attract more customers without spending more money on marketing campaigns. An increasing number of search results also feature Google My Business listings very prominently, sometimes even above paid advertisements.

Experts believe that the best time to ask for business reviews is after doing business with a customer.
Experts believe that the best time to ask for business reviews is after doing business with a customer.

Asking for Quality Online Reviews

In most cases, online reviews come naturally over time, but that doesn’t mean you should wait. You can ask your customers to leave reviews since they influence sales.

Identify keywords for your products and services.

By reading online reviews, you can identify keywords and keyword phrases that are commonly used by online searchers. You can then use those terms in your SEO campaigns.

When is the right time to ask for a business review?

Getting the timing right is often challenging, and you may risk making a bad impression by asking for reviews at the wrong time.

Generally, you should ask for reviews when consumers would generally be in the mood to provide them. This could be the time when they have just received delivery of their product and are excited to unbox. For other businesses, it could be when they have just finished a satisfying meal. Follow up with consumers with a thank you note and a polite request to leave a review.

Should You Worry About Negative Reviews?

Many companies may want to disallow consumers from writing reviews on social media platforms or refuse to create listings on review websites due to concerns about getting negative reviews.

However, a negative review is not always bad for business. This is because:

  • Bad reviews can help you identify your weaknesses and help consumers make an informed decision, which can reduce instances of mismatched expectations.
  • Many consumers don’t believe that a company with 100 percent positive feedback is genuine.
  • Some studies even suggest that the inclusion of a few bad reviews may actually be beneficial.

What if what I find is bad? How can I improve my online reputation?

Companies can change public perception by responding to bad reviews. You can turn bad reviews into an opportunity if you show users that you actually enjoy interacting with them and are keen to make their experiences more enjoyable.

Do not maintain radio silence, as not responding to negative reviews can damage your online reputation. By monitoring your listings, you can show your customers how you successfully handle bad situations and that you truly care about what they think. Take the time to read and understand their complaints, apologize for the issue, and provide a pleasant solution.

Track New Business From Reviews and Listings

What isn’t measured isn’t managed. While you might know that reviews are important for word-of-mouth marketing, you might not truly understand their impact on your business. There are lots of software tools that can allow you to place tracking links on third-party review sites to track clicks that originate there. You can also use website heatmaps to understand how users engage with website pages that contain reviews.

Bottom Line

Reviews are an important part of customer engagement and building a brand, and businesses can no longer refuse to monitor and manage the customer reviews they are getting. Nobody likes to see bad reviews, but by showing that you take mistakes seriously and respond quickly, you can show that your business is truly here to serve customers.

Not sure how to go about managing your online reputation? A public relations consultant like Murnahan Public Relations is fully trained with the depth of experience to help you manage your reputation online across the phases of reputation building, monitoring and repair. We can provide media training and provide hard-won secrets to fixing bad online reputations so that your business can rise above.

Contact us today for a consultation.

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