For Small Businesses, Online Reputation Is More than Just ReviewsShashi Bellamkonda
For most small business owners, the best way to get good reviews is often a question that is top of mind. As author Mark. G Richardson says in his podcast Remodeling Mastery, today customers know more about the business than the business owners themselves.
However, a customer’s or prospect’s perception of a business is not formed by reviews alone. Customers do research and find information about the business not only on the business website but also in local directories, social media, review sites, forum discussions, maps, check-ins and more.
Here are 5 things about your web presence that will affect your online reputation
1. Outdated Web Presence
If you are still in business but your website has not been updated in years, to customers that is like a restaurant that has not been painted in years; imagine cobwebs all over your website. An outdated website signals a bad reputation and drives prospective customers away. You probably even hate seeing the website yourself everyday. Now is the time to make updating your website a priority.
If you have created a good web footprint, including social, set expectations about where you will engage with customers. Using the social media profile or pinned updates, let your audience know how often you expect to update or where they can get a response. If you have a blog that has not been updated in years, it may lead to people wondering if you are still in business. It’s time to update that too. [starlist]
- Action: This could be a huge task and to make it simpler, focus on the places that get the most traffic or appear high in a search for your brand or business name. Check your website for typos using a tool like Respelt that can tell you if the page has typos. Use new and updated pictures of your business, and update that blog. [/starlist]
2. Consistency of Information
Over the years, you tweaked your brand, changed your logo, moved location or changed your phone number but neglected to ensure that your entire web presence was updated. Inconsistency of data across the web confuses not only your customers and prospects but also search engines and data sources that could provide valuable citations to ensure that your website is categorized accurately. In fact you may be losing a lot of customers who are calling the wrong number. [starlist]
- Action: Use a local directory tool to check for consistency of your business information across the web and make changes as needed. [/starlist]
3. Broken Websites
Websites with broken images or links give customers a signal that your business does not care about their user experience. [starlist]
- Action: There are tools available online to identify and fix broken links. My favorite is a downloadable program called XENU but you’ll need some slight tech knowledge to use it . W3c.org also has a tool that you can use to check your website. [/starlist]
4. No Reviews for Your Business
If you are a thriving business, you should have a fair share of reviews. According to a June 2014 survey, “88% Have Read Reviews To Determine The Quality Of A Local Business.” The ideal place for reviews is your website and the next best places are review sites in your niche with a highly engaged audience. [starlist]
- Action: Have a plan to get feedback and testimonials from your customers. Be very fair and include both good and bad reviews. The more reviews you get, the better the ratio of positive reviews to negative ones will be, as long as your product or service is of excellent quality. [/starlist]
5. Unanswered Reviews:
Both good and bad reviews need a response and the quicker the response the better. Responses to reviews not only address the reviewer; they also impact prospective customers who will be happy to see that the business has responded when they find the review later. [starlist]
- Action: Monitor your brand and create a well-defined response plan. At a very basic level, a small business owner should set-up Google Alerts for their business or product names to get alerted on the conversation about the business across the web. Other tools to consider are Mention, Social Mention, and SimplyMeasured. When you find new reviews, make sure you have a plan for responding. Include in the plan a way to thank and wow people who may be reviewing your business on their websites or blogs as well. A review response signals to your customers that you care. [/starlist]
These action plans show that your online reputation is much more than just reviews and the number of stars you get in a rating. Follow these tips to improve your online reputation and boost your business’s web presence.