Do you have an Online Reputation Management (ORM) strategy for your local business?
Do you wait for a crisis to unfurl and then take action or are you proactive about managing the online reputation of your cleaning services business?
These are important questions for any business owner who wants to establish his brand within hyper-competitive local markets. Your brand credibility is among the top factors that will impact not only how users view and engage with your brand, but also impacts your ranking in SERPs.
So if you haven’t already set in motion a strategy to build a better online reputation, then you should start now.
This article will cover three top strategies to build a robust ORM strategy for your local business.
The number one thing you want to know about online reputation management is that it is always better to be proactive about building a better online reputation instead of waiting for a crisis to blow up in your face.
And even if your business does face a crisis, with a strong ORM strategy in place, you will be able to mitigate most of the damage.
The fact is in today’s highly connected business environment, all it takes is a couple of bad reviews or negative customer testimonials to deliver a blow to a brand’s credibility. And unless the business is ready with a counter strategy to mitigate the damage, recovering from the damage can be extremely challenging.
To prevent your local business from experiencing such a crisis, here are three important ORM strategies that you can follow to protect your brand’s online reputation.
1. Claim your Brand Name and Own It
Let’s start at the beginning – before potential customers get to know you, you need to ensure that search engines know your business and what your business has to offer. So you need to amplify the right signals that let search engines recognize you as a brand entity.
Most businesses use organization schema to let search engines gain access to pertinent information such as name, address, link to logo, and links to social sites. And it’s always a good idea to claim your brand regardless of whether or not you use a social channel – at least it will prevent others from misusing your brand name.
You will also want to own your primary website’s .com, .net and .org versions.
2. Create more Positive Content
Your website content can be one of your strongest weapons in fighting negative publicity. Positive content can potentially help in limiting the damage from any negative content that may be posted online about your brand.
So what does more positive content mean?
Positive content here simply means high-quality content that you can create and use to populate your website, your social accounts, and other online real estates that you own. Positive content can also include positive reviews and customer testimonials. If this content can rank in branded searches, it can help in controlling the impact of the influence of negative content.
So focus on creating quality content that can rank high in branded searches. Any negative content that does come up will be pushed down by your positive content in SERPs – once it is off page 1, chances of it making much impact are minimal.
3. Respond to All Reviews
Reviews can be a lifeblood source for local businesses that want to stay competitive in a tight market. Your customers and search engines such as Google take reviews very seriously. So you have to have a plan when it comes to dealing with reviews – all kinds of reviews.
The number one rule with reviews is that you respond to them regardless of whether they are positive or negative.
The positive reviews you can afford to be slightly casual with – so a simple “thank you” or “we appreciate your time” are all fine. You can of course go deeper and elaborate on your responses if you have the time. However, negative reviews are dicey and you want to spend more time when dealing when them.
A simple apology followed by a solution or an offer to correct the wrong can easily diffuse the situation – provided you do it in time and with sincerity. The last thing you should do is to get angry or act defensive or give excuses – that’s just opening the doorway to disaster.
But here’s the thing, no matter how good you are, or how hard you try, there will always be someone who might now be happy with your services or products. So you really cannot avoid an unhappy or disgruntled customer forever. Having said this, the best option for any business is to have a ready template on how you are going to respond to a negative review or unhappy customer. You will want to share this template with everyone and anyone who is client-facing or even perhaps with your entire team. So a critical aspect of your ORM strategy will involve having a plan to deal with a crisis as and when it occurs.
Here’s a simple guideline to follow;
- Set up a plan of how to respond to negative reviews and unhappy
- Monitor your reviews.
- Set up a chain or reporting.
- Appoint a person/staff who should be contacted when a crisis occurs and
who can respond to the crisis.
- Run simulations of such crisis – identify loopholes or issues/situations that
you could potentially face in the future.
Continuing with Reviews
Receiving negative reviews or a bad customer testimonial does not always have to be a bad thing. You can take a negative thing like a bad review and use it to improve your service offering. Of course, you cannot act on all negative reviews – but the ones that offer some constructive ideas or open up opportunities for you to improve can be a boon for your business.
If you have had an opportunity to use a negative review to improve the service offering of your business in any way, use it to build positive content and better brand credibility.
Do a blog post or a video or even a social post about how a negative review helped you correct a wrong and improve your business. Such a story can leave positive vibes about your brand among customers as it shows you care!
Managing your online brand reputation is an ongoing process. And the best way forward is to get proactive about it. So start today.