Online reviews are indispensable in modern business. Many consumers place a high level of value on what reviewers tend to say about your brand. But unfortunately using online reviews isn’t always as easy as placing a few flattering testimonials on your website. The internet is a vast place, and consumers can research your product or service on websites other than yours.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management is a multifaceted thing nowadays. With the rise of social media, your customers and clients are able to communicate both their positive and negative experiences with your business. Part of online reputation management is insuring that you respond to any complaints in a way that will establish your business as one that deals with negative feedback in a professional manner.
But another important part of online reputation management that shouldn’t be overlooked, has to do with what potential customers would find if they were to do an internet search of your business’s name. Whether you like it or not, unsatisfied customers can easily publish negative comments about your company online, regardless of whether or not it’s reasonable. Trying to stop people from saying what they like about you, would be about as fruitful as trying to stop the sun from setting – it simply can’t be done.
To insure potential customers don’t stumble upon negative feedback when searching for your business, it’s essential to develop an online reputation management strategy so that your website, social media profiles and other positive content will show up first in search results.
Apart from social media and trying to highlight more positive web content surrounding your business, reputation management also deals with showing up higher in search results than your competitors, this is only possible if you have a strategical plan in place regarding the search engine optimization of your business.
Search engine optimization is a part of online reputation management that establishes your website as a good source of information that search engines are willing to recommend. Proper search engine optimization will help a business rank higher in relevant search results.
Transparency And Online Reputation
The internet used to be a one-way street. When people were looking for a business offering a certain product or service, they could simply do an internet search specifying their location and the product and service they needed. This was likely to lead them to a relevant business’s website, where they would find all the information they needed to contact the business. Unsatisfied customers and clients had no means of broadcasting their complaints to a wide audience, and the online reputation of businesses tended to go unharmed, even if they were dealing unprofessionally.
In more recent years, however, the internet has become a crowded place. Not only has transparency become a given – with many websites practically dedicated only to offering unsatisfied consumers a place to complain – clients are unlikely to trust a business that doesn’t offer enough transparency.
This means that consumers are expecting that businesses voluntarily won’t withhold negative criticism. In most cases this won’t be a problem, most businesses value their customers enough to offer great service and they’re willing to respond to criticism professionally. But it would still be good if you could leverage the power of positive feedback to flaunt your strengths.
Using Online Reviews
Research has showed that consumers tend to value on a business’s online reviews above many other things when making a decision of how they’ll spend. This is a very important thing to note, as better online reviews could lead to more business for you, even if your competitors are ranking higher in search result related to your industry.
Another positive thing that’s been noted, is that consumers don’t always read through reviews one-by-one. It would seem that most people are too busy to critically pick apart the good and bad experiences other consumers have had with a business, instead, prospective customers tend to judge a business on star rating. In other words, your business’s rating out of five stars is what customers seem to consider most.
Overall, if your business can get good reviews and your star rating is 4 to 4½ out of five, you’re likely to attract new customers via search engine results. The effect of a positive overall star rating is also likely to dramatically increase if your positive star rating is displayed under your website name in search results.
But a good star rating won’t always do the trick. Many potential customers prefer to read about what your previous customers have said about your business before making a purchase decision, in those cases, it’s essential to have your good reviews outweigh the bad ones, as too many negative reviews would create the impression of a business that delivers poorly. For the sake of good quality control, it’s important to have more positive than negative feedback from customers.
Unfortunately, people are more likely to complain about a negative experience than they are to compliment a positive one. This is especially the case with online review websites, where malicious unsatisfied customers often tend to harm your business reputation as a means of revenge.
Quality Control And Online Reviews
To manage a positive online reputation, you should be aiming to keep a good balance in online reviews. But as has already been stated above, this isn’t always very easy, especially not with dissatisfied customers being more likely to leave reviews than the ones who enjoyed a good customer experience.
Taking that into consideration, online reputation management might seem like an incredibly daunting task. If your business seems to be suffering as a result of poor online reputation management, you might want to consider hiring a company that specializes in the area. Quality control online and reputation management tend to be very complex nowadays, and experts will be able to offer you reputation management services online, so that you can work to keep your customers happy offline.