- Trust Marketing Platform
How to get more Google reviews, improve your reputation online, and set up a long-term strategy for online business reputation management.
Managing your business’ reputation is, in essence, managing how you’re perceived by customers and prospects. Your reputation management strategy is inexorably linked to the customer experience. At scale, many customers thinking and speaking highly of you = a great reputation.
You’d think that to improve your reputation you must simply improve the customer experience. That is certainly important—vital, even—but these days it’s not enough.
Managing your business’ online reputation requires numerous strategies to help boost your business’ image online. Not only should you focus on improving the customer experience, but you should employ robust online reputation management techniques that all work together to improve your overall reputation.
What is reputation management?
Reputation management is the strategic discipline of monitoring, generating, and responding to customer engagement across multiple review sites to improve your brand’s image.
Here are 12 strategies for local online reputation management that we think every business should adopt, broken down into four categories: Monitoring, Generating, Engaging, and Maintaining. After that, check out our tips for implementing these strategies in a 6-month timeline!
Keeping a close eye on your review platforms (Google, Facebook, and industry-specific sites) is key to managing your online reputation. Your reputation lives on these platforms. Your prospects form opinions of your store as they browse review platforms online. It’s important to know what your customers are saying about you.
For any business, and especially multi-location ones, monitoring online feedback is a cumbersome task which eats up precious internal resources. Luckily, you have a few options when deciding how you will efficiently monitor review platforms and customer feedback.
If you have the capacity for it, using an in-house team to look over online feedback may be a viable option. However, this requires dedicating a lot of time. If it’s not their primary job function, review management may subtract from their performance in other areas of the business.
Nowadays, it is also easy to outsource and hire a managed service to monitor and engage with your review content. Your business doesn’t have to put in the time or get distracted by review management, you just reap the rewards. A good outsourced service can get you reviews, respond to reviews, and keep your team in the loop about trends within customer feedback.
Setting up Google Alerts for your business and your industry is a useful tool, as you’ll receive notifications whenever your business is mentioned in the news or other places online. This makes reputation monitoring easier.
Often this is helpful for businesses receiving negative press. By getting alerts whenever your business is mentioned, your team will be able to immediately form a plan on how to react rather than be caught on your heels.
We’ve noticed a trend in this era of cancel culture where bad press articles will spur a barrage of negative reviews from customers and non-customers alike, united against you and your team. Receiving a Google alert before the wave arrives will help your team formulate a better response.
Not only can you more easily monitor for bad press, but this tool allows you to stay on top of industry-related trends to inform your marketing strategies.
It’s important to keep an eye on where and how your company or products are being talked about on blogs, social media, user forums and anywhere else related discussions may occur. This will help you stay ahead of the game in terms of damage control, sentiment awareness and finding new engagement opportunities. This list of our favorites includes a variety of free and subscription options, so take the time to review their functionality in hopes of finding the best option for your unique business:
Trend monitoring tools
It’s a smart idea to periodically review how search terms related to your business are trending up or down in terms of usage frequency. If a subject your potential customers may be interested in is blowing up in terms of online interest, that may inform your content strategy for the short or long term. Here are some options to consider and get acquainted with:
Backlink monitoring tools:
Did you know that one-way incoming links to your site from authoritative external sources is one of the top signals Google’s algorithm considers when ranking sites organically? There are other reasons to keep track of who is linking to you and your competitors too, including: replicating links your rivals have, finding opportunities to correct or expand anything written about you, forming relationships with linkers and many more. Here are a few tools/suites Widewail uses to monitor our always important backlink profile:
Local business listing management tools:
If you're a business owner, it's important to make sure your location's information is accurate across all local directories and listings sites. If your information is outdated you may miss out on valuable leads. And it’s not just about serving the people in your local area with the best set of results, either - accurate listings are also a critical component of organic “local” SEO efforts. If this sounds like a time-consuming process, that's because it is. Thankfully, there are options which can expedite their creation/curation and assist with your business listings management strategy.
Every six months or so, take the time to review your business’ Google Business Profile and its information. Perform a GBP audit. Are your business’ hours up to date? What about for the upcoming holiday? Is the phone number listed correctly? Do the photos shown accurately represent your business? Is your business accurately listed as a service area vs. brick-and-mortar?
Accurate and relevant information on your GBP is essential to building trust and eventually making customers happy.
Getting more reviews is a direct solution to increasing your Google star rating. Without a
review generation strategy, many of your happy customers will go unheard. By directly asking for a review from all your customers, you will increase the number of happy customers leaving positive reviews. In turn, your star rating will increase.
Ask for reviews across multiple platforms: Google, Facebook, and industry-specific sites. No matter where on the internet your prospects come across your business, you want to have high ratings across the board.
For best results, we recommend automating the process of review solicitation and asking via SMS.
Get many reviews, frequently. The amount of reviews you need to be competitive in your
local market is different for every business category and for every town/city/region.
Do some competitive analysis when determining your volume goal. In short, your ideal review volume should be more than your competitors.
In addition to volume, focus on review frequency. Reviews are a depreciating asset. A high frequency of reviews month-in and month-out tells Google you have great transaction volume. In other words, your business is popular amongst locals. We’ve found that businesses tend to get reviews from 20% of their customers–if they ask everyone for a review.
The value of reviews is that they’re offering an objective view of your business. Despite this objectivity, there’s an opportunity to shape the narrative about your business.
In your request for reviews, personalize the language to inform the reviews customers leave (We recommend soliciting requests via SMS, btw. Automate the process for best results). The goal: guide the customer feedback towards the message that is most impactful for your business.
What value does your company bring? Ask your customers specific questions that will have them sharing what you want your prospects to hear. For example, if promoting your business as having the “best selection,” ask customers directly about their thoughts on your selection.
See more tips on tailoring the messaging in your review generation campaigns here.
Video content is the way of the future. However, testimonials about your business can typically be expensive and time-consuming to produce. Focusing on gathering User Generated Content through automated software is your best bet. Here are 51 tips to get you started.
Widewail’s Invite Video makes video collection seamless for local businesses. The prompt text is customizable to get the specific feedback you want. As your arsenal of videos fills up, post the best content on your social media and use it in your advertising.
Take it a step further and try running a video collection event.
Reviews are essentially feedback about your business, and, when un-replied to, the reviews seemingly hang in the void, unheard. Responding to all your reviews ensures that your customers are acknowledged.
Our view is that responses to reviews have two audiences. The first, naturally, is the reviewer. A reply to a positive review is a statement of gratitude, while a response to a negative review is an apology, an attempt at a resolution. The positive reviewer, when responded to, feels satisfied they left their positive feedback and are willing to do business with you again. The giver-of-negative feedback will feel heard and acknowledged with a response. “At least my feedback was heard and maybe the business will improve.” They may forgive and forget, or choose to work with you on finding a compromise to make things right.
The second audience, on the other hand, is the wide pool of prospective customers– searching, skeptical, and considering whether or not they want to become a customer. Quite simply, responding to your reviews looks good to your prospective customers. It shows you’re engaged, helpful, and willing to make amends if anything goes awry.
Without a doubt, your business's social media accounts contribute to your online reputation just as well. It’s important to manage them to improve your overall public image. While not all social media platforms act as a review site specifically, customers and prospects still peruse your pages and may be wary of any feedback that goes unaddressed.
On Facebook, customers can either “recommend” or “not recommend” your business, and this leads to an aggregate rating out of 5. In addition to the “Review” section of a business’ Facebook page, individuals can write a post or comment for your business and share their positive (or negative) feedback. While Instagram doesn’t function as a review platform as Facebook does, public comments on your business’ posts can similarly influence how prospective customers see your business.
At a minimum, respond to all Facebook reviews. Then, consider treating all comments containing feedback like mini-reviews and reply to each one.
Maintain your review volume by automating the review solicitation process. Reputation management software like Invite is an effective tool to get more reviews, more frequently. Any good automated review solicitation software will make your in-house team’s life easier and will allow them to prioritize the most important tasks.
Take those online reputation management skills to the next level by using a combination of free and paid tools to make the best use of internal resources and your precious time. Bear in mind that while smaller, specialized options exist, many of the “super” digital marketing suites (SEMRush, Moz, Conductor, Ahrefs, etc.) include collections of multiple tools all in one place. In the interest of length, we’ve kept our lists simple but you can click for more information on any of these top tools our team at Widewail recommends.
Free/paid keyword research tools:
When creating content for both your website and social media platforms, you’ll want to ensure you’re casting the widest net in terms of both transactional bottom-funnel phrases and research mode top-funnel examples. Most of the paid options have scaled back “free” versions or trial periods, and many useful free tools have more robust paid options available - so we’ve combined both into a single list. Some even have helpful browser extensions to make your activities more efficient and customizable. Familiarizing yourself with a variety of offerings can make it easier to decide which are the best fit for your individual needs, as they all have their differences and idiosyncrasies.
Today’s world of reviews teaches us that trust is built through peers, not through institutions. Why? When considering buying from a new company, shoppers tend to trust the words of past customers more than a business’ advertisements.
Embracing this world where customers primarily trust reviews, trust marketing is the process of capturing and distributing customer feedback to positively shape the broader message around your company through the words of your customers.
The next-level strategy for managing your reputation is to Capture, Distribute, and Shape.
Capture feedback about your business that aligns with your value proposition. Distribute that feedback across to your audience, building trust between past customers and prospects. Shape the narrative about your business across multiple review platforms.
Take a look at our trust marketing suite for more tips.
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I’m a writer, philosopher, climber, mountain biker, and a fried-egg enthusiast. Before joining Widewail as a Review Response Specialist, I attended Middlebury College and studied Philosophy and Art History. I grew up in Michigan, but I fell in love with Vermont while in school.
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