Promote Your Business Online – Get a Handle on Online Reviews

Word of mouth used to be one of the most reliable ways to build a business reputation. Satisfied customers recommended businesses to their neighbors and relatives, building long-term loyalty amongst the local population. With the growth of the internet however, all that has changed. Most promotion now takes place online and companies serve a wide geographical area.

Online reviews have largely taken the place of personal word of mouth recommendations. The internet is both a more powerful and a more dangerous medium. Once posted, a written review will be hard to erase and it will be visible to anyone researching your business – even if they are on the other side of the planet. It’s also easy for consumers to post an anonymous review without having to be held accountable for exaggerated or angry comments.

Online reviews can have a big effect on a business’s reputation, both positively and negatively. This is especially true for small companies, who may not have a large online profile to counter the effect of several negative reviews. ReputationDefender is a leader in global online reputation management services, helping business clients generate positive content and construct a resilient brand name. Our experts can help turn online reviews into an asset rather than a threat to your brand’s image.

The Importance of Online Reviews

If you doubt the power of online reviews, look at the following 8 statistics from a cross-section of different studies.

  • 80 percent of customers say they have decided not to purchase a product or service after reading a negative review.
  • 90 percent say reading positive reviews has impacted their decision to buy certain products.
  • 45 percent say they trust online reviews the most when decision making.
  • 92 percent say they’ve made some buying decisions based on online reviews.
  • 67 percent of customers read less than six reviews before making a decision.
  • A three-star versus a four-star rating on Yelp can drop a restaurant’s revenue by 9 percent.
  • 72 percent of internet users believe online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • Online review content carries about 10 percent weight with Google search page rankings.

Figures can vary somewhat from survey to survey and amongst different industries but it’s easy to see that both positive and negative reviews can have a huge impact on your business.

How to Handle Negative Reviews

Every company will face a negative comment at some point. Businesses can often find this frustrating, especially since one upset customer who had a bad experience is more likely to leave a review than one hundred people who had good service and have nothing to complain about.  A desire to withdraw from the situation is natural but unfortunately it is not the best strategy.

Monitoring reviews and responding appropriately will help to diminish their impact more than pretending they do not exist. A simple Google alert can help by letting you know when a new comment about your business is posted. You can also buy or download more complicated software. It is a good idea to follow your competitor’s reviews as well as your own. If a similar business in your area is getting positive reviews, it is going to undercut your clients.

Responding to reviews is generally a good idea, whether they are positive or negative and any justified complaint definitely deserves an explanation. Avoid being defensive; instead accept the comment as constructive criticism. Take responsibility for the problem, explain what went wrong and how you plan to fix the issue in the future. This helps to show you take your clients’ opinions seriously and want to do the best you can. Even if your response doesn’t change the opinion of the original client, others who read the review later will respect your conscientious attitude. Keep your tone professional and avoid getting into an angry back and forth, however the client responds.

Creating more Positive Reviews

Counterintuitively, the best solution to an online review problem is to get more reviews. If everyone leaves a comment, most will be positive, however, when only those who have a negative experience write a review, well, we know what happens. Here are a few suggestions to encourage positive testimonials from your clients:

  • Automatic survey – A short multiple choice survey followed by a comment section is easy to answer and the results will be private to start with. You can post positive statistics from the survey on your website. If customers leave personal feedback make sure you ask for permission before sharing it as a review.
  • Send an Automatic Review Reminder – This is another good way to let clients know you care about their opinions. Automatic review requests will up your overall review numbers so one or two negative comments will be less likely to affect your average.
  • Create an incentive – Organize a contest for clients who respond to your request for a testimonial. You can ask for a short description or a picture of how they use your product and what your business means to them. Give away free or discounted services as a prize and encourage participants to follow you and learn the results on social media. This will help you gain followers, as well as give you more genuine positive comments to use on your website and review pages. Make sure to ask for permission before publishing anything, especially an image or video.

Remember there is no way to create a positive online reputation overnight. It is something that can only be built slowly over time. But actively promoting positive comments, whilst at the same time developing a good sense of how to respond to negative ones, will get your business off to a good start.

Click here for more information on how to turn negative reviews into an asset.

ORM for Small Businesses – 6 Tips to Improve Internet Marketing

Small businesses are more likely to fall short when it comes to internet marketing than their large corporate counterparts. Traditionally, a hometown company is based on personal interaction. Local owners feel they are more likely to meet their customers on the street than they are online.

Yet the virtual world is everywhere these days. Anyone interested in a new business will first run a Google search to see what it’s all about. If potential customers can’t find your business online they’ll likely turn elsewhere. Some may even question you’re legitimacy. At ReputationDefender we work with individuals and businesses to make sure they’re using the most sophisticated online marketing techniques to promote their brand.

A good website is key

Even the smallest local startup can broaden its appeal with a professional website. Small businesses that do have an online site often lack good user experience (UX) design and streamlined click-to-action buttons. It pays to work with a professional who can create a website that is easy to use and draws in customers.

Promoting your small business online

Today’s internet users are more sophisticated than ever. They will be looking past your website to see what other customers think of you and how you rank with competitors throughout your industry. Fortunately there are low-cost ways to promote your brand which can really make a difference. Here are six important tips to help you market your business online:

  • Claim your brand name – It is important to ensure that you control the social media and other web profiles that cover your brand. Otherwise content may be created that you have no control over.
  • Publish professional content – Go on to create your own content with well written articles or blog posts that mention your company. These will help to fill search engine results.
  • Make a video about your product – It is now easy for anyone to make a video and promote it on YouTube. Make sure you link the video to your website and include your keyword in the description so that it ranks higher in search pages.
  • Ask for reviews – Don’t be shy about asking for reviews. Research shows that if every customer reviews your brand, the majority will be good, whereas if you leave it up to chance you are likely to only get a comment from that one angry customer who had a bad experience. Responding politely to negative reviews is also vital. If possible, briefly demonstrate what you have done to fix the issue so that it won’t happen again. Avoid sounding angry or defensive at all costs.
  • Update social media pages – This is the place to share the positive content you’ve created, whether it be articles or reviews. Interested customers will follow your page and may even re-share articles they like, widening your client base exponentially.
  • Get listed in a local business directory – This will give your brand more authority, especially when combined with a wide range of content you have created yourself.

If you make sure you cover these six areas, you will be off to a good start with promoting your brand. For more information and advice, talk to our experts at ReputationDefender.

You can now also read Reputation Defender’s new blog on Marketing and Cybersecurity to learn more on how internet privacy measures can help promotional activity.

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Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

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Tel: (888) 851-9609

Beyond SEO – New Brand Management Strategies for 2016

In the constantly evolving world of the internet, it’s not enough to find one brand management strategy that works. Anyone who wants to stay at the cutting edge of online marketing will find they have to update their strategy on a yearly basis. A fresh approach will give your company the oomph it needs to outrank competitors and create brands that resonates with consumers.

In the past, improving search rankings through SEO tactics has been one of the most important elements of online reputation and brand management. It still is one of the major elements we stress at ReputationDefender. Nothing is worse for a brand than having a customer search your name and see a page full of negative reviews or a defamatory articles. However, in order to create a really positive image you’ll need to do more than have a professional-looking search page for your brand. Customers are increasingly finding more sophisticated ways to conduct research on the internet. They’ll want to get to know you on a personal level as well as find out exactly what past clients think of their experience with your company.

4 Ways to bring your brand management ORM up-to-date

  • Social Media – long seen as a way for friends to interact online, in the past few years social media sites have also become an important platform for clients to learn more about the business and services they use. To make the most of this opportunity, you’ll need to maintain an active profile on major sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others. Regularly posting updates and reactions can help to create positive group energy and make your clients feel connected, with you and with other customers. A large following on these sites will help to reduce the impact of any negative comments that may appear.
  • Mentions – smaller businesses sometimes struggle to get a detailed article in a major publication. A two-line tweet from a well-known brand can accomplish the same goal with a lot less work. It will help define your brand as an authority in the field.
  • Reviews – research shows that 67 percent of consumers choose goods and services based on online reviews. This can sometimes be problematic for businesses since most people don’t think to leave a review until they’ve had a negative experience. Fake reviews are easy to spot and often do more damage than good. On the other hand, it’s OK to ask your customers to write genuine reviews as long as it’s done tactfully. Add a one line tag on the end of a blog post or send out a direct request linked to a form that’s easy to fill out in a few minutes. People who are really happy with your services will be eager to promote you.
  • User generated contact – once you’ve created a good profile, you can go beyond reviews to find even more fun and interesting ways to create user generated content. Use your social media pages to encourage users to post pictures and testimonials about how they use your product. Choose a winner and send out prizes to make it more interesting. The more positive content you have that is really user generated, the more credible and trustworthy your brand will appear to new clients and potential customers.

Want to learn more? Contact us today to find out how our ReputationDefender Kickstarter package can get your new business off to the right start:

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Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

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Tel: (888) 851-9609

6 Ways to Reduce Negative Comments About Your Business

Public relations crises happen. It’s not possible to please everyone all the time and every business will eventually face someone who is unhappy. Unfortunately many disgruntled customers voice their feelings in a manner that can threaten to damage the company’s reputation permanently, including publishing negative comments online.

There are ways to reduce the number of dissatisfied clients and negative comments in any business. Basically, providing good service will make your customers happy and keep negative publicity from becoming an endemic problem. Additionally, how you respond to criticism can decide whether it turns into a major or a minor issue. This isn’t a substitute for the kind of online reputation management we do at ReputationDefender ®, but it will make it much easier to get your online publicity back on track with minimal effort.

Here are six specific ways to increase client satisfaction.

  • Respond in a timely manner

    The majority of customer complaints are due to slow response times. If a client sends an email and three days later they haven’t heard from you, they’re likely to take to the internet in frustration. You can avoid this by setting clear guidelines for response times. 24-48 hours is appropriate depending on your email volume, but make sure this is clearly indicated next to your contact information. A simple response indicating the email is being processed can help let customers know they are a priority. On social media, customers expect an even quicker answer. 1 hour to be exact.

  • Practice good communication

    Responding to your customer’s needs will facilitate every type of interaction. This includes effective communication, whether it’s online or in person. Good listening is a skill that is typically thought of in terms or personal relationships, but it’s just as necessary in a business setting. Active listening will help to build trust by making the client feel you care. You’ll also be able to tailor your services more specifically to their needs. Building a strong communication platform at the beginning of the relationship will make it easier to handle difficult issues as the work progresses.

  • Use every day language

    The client enlisted your services in a specialist area because they lack this expertise themselves. If you use jargon and acronyms specific to your field, they’ll likely feel confused about what you really mean. Speaking plain English whenever possible will help the client understand what you are doing. It’s important to sound knowledgeable, but avoid talking down to a client. Remember they are also an expert in their own field.

  • Meet deadlines

    There’s really no good reason for missing a deadline after the fact. If the timeline for resolving an issue becomes impossible, this should be communicated to a client well beforehand. Describe what happened that made the work take longer and set a more reasonable deadline.

  • Take responsibility

    Blaming a specific employee or team won’t clear your company’s reputation since you hired and trained these people. It’s better to present a united front and let the company as a whole take responsibility for the issue. A general statement indicating that internal changes are being made to address the issue is appropriate, but clients don’t need to know the specifics of who’s at fault.

  • Don’t get angry at negative comments

    Your business is personal but keeping a cool head is essential. If a customer is posting negative comments to simply antagonise you, it is better to not take the bait. Social media fails and wins have massive potential to go viral so proceed carefully. If you have done all you can and feel that you aren’t getting anywhere in your attempts to make amends, avoid escalation by disengaging from the argument.

    You can now read Reputation Defender’s new blog post on the importance of online reviews and learn how positive online feedback can help to promote your business.

In the middle of a reputation crisis? Call us:

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Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

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Tel: (888) 851-9609

What is the difference between ORM and SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Reputation Management (ORM) are often confused, with many people thinking that they are the same thing. However, while there is some cross over, the two have entirely different focuses and actually yield very different results. In this article we explore a little more about their origins and uses.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization has been employed by content providers and webmasters since the mid-1990s to promote the visibility of their web content by improving its ranking in search results. Early webmasters just needed to submit the address of their webpage (URL) to the search engines which would send a spider to crawl it. The spider would extract links and index the page according to the information it contained. The webpage would be downloaded to the search engine’s own server and stored, where an indexer would extract information such as keywords and their location.

Webmasters soon caught on to the value of having well-ranking pages which were visible in search engine results. Danny Sullivan, an internet specialist, cites the phrase “search engine optimization” as coming into use in or around 1997. Early search engines worked via a series of algorithms which could be manipulated through several factors, including keyword patterning and the appropriate use of Meta tags. Early search engines were ripe for ranking abuses through keyword patterning and keyword stuffing.

Over the course of the next two decades, the algorithms of search engines such as Google have become significantly more sophisticated, for a time factoring heavily on the strength of inbound and outbound links. Nevertheless, as web content creators grew wise to the potential for manipulation of search engine algorithms to help their websites to rank more highly in search results, Google began to develop more and more highly-developed algorithms to stop webmasters from cheating the system and provide searchers with relevant, quality content.

Online Reputation Management (ORM)

Online reputation management specialists like ReputationDefender help individuals and businesses to control their online reputation. Search results play an important factor in this. While online reputation managers will often utilize search optimization techniques to help their clients’ web content to rank well, they will offer a wealth of other services to build a complete positive profile: view our recent post on the subject to find out more.

Academic studies have identified online reputation management as a driving force behind corporate PR in Fortune 500 companies since the start of the 21st Century. In a digital age where the life history of a business is available in just a few keystrokes, it’s imperative that the first page of Google yields positive results. The principle extends not only to companies, but to private individuals: negative online information can have a serious impact on employability or in our personal lives. A study of US adults revealed that 75% has searched their own name in a search engine; of those, 48% had come across results they weren’t happy with. Some 42% of US adults admitted to conducting an online search against someone they were thinking of doing business with; of those almost half admitted to pulling out of the deal because of something they had read on the internet. 70% of employers admitted to rejecting candidates on the basis of their online reputation, according to a poll conducted by Microsoft in 2010.

The Online Reputation Management Association promotes ethical best practice. Google, who support online reputation management, introduced a tool-set to enable users to monitor their online reputation in 2011, helping them to identify and request the removal of content they were unhappy with.

SEO ORM Google Search Results
Image courtesy of Simon at Pixabay

Landscaping Your Entire Google Front Page

In essence, whilst search engine optimization focuses on helping your web content to rank highly, online reputation management concentrates on landscaping your entire search engine front page. ReputationDefender help customers to manage their entire online reputation management (ORM) strategy, helping companies and individuals paint a truer picture of themselves online. As well as being a reactive service, ORM can be proactive; ORM is a type of insurance to protect against the potentially toxic impact of negative press. By helping customers to build a strong online presence before the event, they are far better placed to deal with any bad publicity. To put it in simple terms, consider the following two scenarios:

Company A has devoted the time and resources to building a strong online presence. It receives some misleading and inaccurate press, with a negative blog post appearing about it. With a large number of search results linked to Company A’s name, the post is virtually lost on the 5th page of Google.

Company B has zero online presence bar a website. It receives some misleading and inaccurate press, with a negative blog post appearing about it. Focusing their resources solely on SEO, the company’s website features prominently. However, the negative post is still very visible and remains one of the first things that customers will see.

Which company would you want to be?

ReputationDefender help millions of users all over the world to build and manage their online reputations, setting them in good stead in case the worst should happen and they should receive criticism online. We recommend that our clients take a pro-active approach – whether you’re a private individual or a multi-national corporation: your online reputation matters. By taking the time to build an online presence ahead of the game you’re limiting the potential impact of any online negativity, pushing it down in Google’s rankings where it’s far less likely to be seen.