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More than ever, customers and potential customers are turning to the Internet to find businesses and services they’re interested in, but more importantly to leave reviews after they’ve visited your business. This can be great news if your business has received positive reviews, but not so great if you’ve received negative reviews from unsatisfied customers. If you aren’t actively managing your small business reputation online, you could be putting yourself at risk by allowing your unsatisfied customers to take over the digital spaces of your business without any way to counteract their statements or highlight the positive reviews left by happy customers.

Where do you start to manage your online reputation?

First, understand that there are three main types of information that influence your online reputation: reviews and testimonials, social media activity, and organic results from search engines. If you’re looking to maintain a positive reputation, it’s important to know what factors are contributing to it—and how you can modify them for better results. So let’s look at each type of content in turn.

Managing reviews and testimonials

While you can’t control what your customers say about you online, it’s important to manage these conversations and make sure they don’t get out of hand. If a customer is angry, act quickly by resolving their issue and publicly apologizing on behalf of your company.  This will help protect your reputation by demonstrating that you are focused on providing exceptional service. And when it comes to managing positive reviews, be sure to thank reviewers and respond politely to any questions or compliments they may have. The more responsive you are, the less likely potential customers will be to leave one-star reviews after having a great experience with your business.

How does social media activity affect your online reputation?

It’s easy to ignore your business’s online reputation, particularly if you don’t have a social media presence. But it’s crucial that you’re always monitoring what people are saying about your company. Here’s how to use social media as a tool for reputation management.   Social media is not just one-way communication: If there’s anything we’ve learned from major companies’ recent PR disasters, it’s that ignoring customers on social media can (and will) come back to haunt you. People want two-way interaction: We all know by now that interacting with customers on social sites is a great way to develop relationships with your customers and turn them into fans.

How does your online reputation impact your search engine rankings?

While your offline reputation may impact your search engine rankings, your online reputation is a much more important factor. Google or Bing will look at what other people are saying about you online before determining where to place you on their rankings page. This means it’s vital that you maintain a positive and professional presence across social media platforms and as many websites that display reviews. 

As a small business, how do you maintain or improve your online reputation?

As a small business, it’s important to protect your online reputation. If you neglect to build positive relationships on social media and review sites, you risk your customers taking their business elsewhere.  To help improve your reputation management, try some of these tips for addressing negative comments, encouraging users to post positive comments and providing great customer service.

#1: Provide Great Customer Service!

Make sure customers are satisfied with their experience at your business by providing fast and friendly service. Communicate with clients regularly if they take longer than normal to complete a project so they don’t feel forgotten! You may even consider offering incentives for positive reviews or testimonials from satisfied customers on your website, as these also factor into rankings.

#2: Respond to Negative Comments Promptly, Professionally and Calmly

If a client does have an issue with your services, it’s important to respond quickly and professionally and try to take the conversation offline. Doing so will help maintain trust between yourself and your customers while also protecting your business reputation. You want to avoid losing customers through poor communication because dissatisfied customers are more likely to post negative reviews than they are positive ones!

#3: Encourage Customers to Post Positive Comments and Testimonials on Social Media and Review Sites

Instead of waiting for customers to leave reviews, you can also encourage them by providing a link or form they can access easily, such as sending an email with a personalized link to post on their favorite social media site. These testimonials are excellent marketing tools that can further enhance your online reputation.

Reputation management can be time consuming if you try to do it on your own. Keeping track of all the places negative reviews might show up can be intimidating, and paying someone to do it for you can be expensive, but with the right tools, you can easily and effectively not only manage your reputation, you can improve it. Equip Arizona’s EAZ Digital Toolkit Pro will not only allow you to polish up your online reputation, but improve other aspects of you online presence as well. Learn more about EAZ Digital Toolkit Pro.