When people look for you online, how do they see you? Are the reviews negative or positive? Does that one frivolous lawsuit stand out above all the positive comments? Today, your online reputation is one of the most important aspects of your business. With 97% of people looking at local reviews before visiting an establishment and 93% of consumers saying online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, it’s essential to manage your online reputation.

In this post, we’ll give you strategies for managing your online reputation this year, so you can gain new customers.

Monitor your online reviews on major platforms

While this sounds simple, many companies don’t monitor or respond to their online reviews at all. Every business should have an optimized listing on Google, as reviews on Google My Business are the most searched for reviews on the web. Facebook and Amazon also have strong search volume, so if your product or service is relevant to those platforms, you should also be engaging customers and responding to reviews there.

In addition to the more generalist review sites, it’s almost more important to have reviews on review sites specific to your industry. For instance, if a potential customer is in a new area and looking for an Italian restaurant, two establishments may have identical menus, but they’re most likely to choose the one with better Yelp reviews.

Here’s some of the most popular review sites to consider:

  • Angie’s List — service-related
  • Healthgrades — healthcare
  • Yelp — restaurants
  • Zagat — restaurants
  • TripAdvisor — travel
  • G2 Crowd — software
  • Glassdoor — anyone looking to hire employees
  • Home Advisor — service-related
  • OpenTable — restaurants

Drive happy customers toward review sites, and unhappy customers toward customer service

You don’t want to ask everyone to leave a review because some might be negative and it’s better to address those privately. When a customer takes a survey, you can ask them an NPS question like, “would you recommend this product or service to a friend?” or a CSAT question like, “one a scale of 1-5, how satisfied are you with this product or service?” If their answer indicates they would leave a positive review (say they are classified as a ‘promoter’ for  example), you can then direct them to review platforms to share their feedback publicly. If the feedback is negative, it’s best to direct them to your customer service team ad close the loop with them privately without them spreading negative comments around the internet.

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Utilize your PR department

Not only can your PR department help manage a bad situation, they can also help disseminate positive information and position you as a thought-leader in the media. This proactive approach can help offset bad reviews or media because consumers already trust your brand. PR departments can improve your brand perception and inform consumers of the truth.

Establish a taskforce and process for addressing negative reviews

When it comes to online reviews, no response is still a response. It says you don’t care about your customer enough to acknowledge their pain and fix a bad situation. Not only will this make things right for the customer, but it will show other consumers that your customers are important to you, and help to build trust in your brand. Make sure there’s a clear responsibility for who will own followup, and always take the conversation offline after responding to the comment.

Encourage positive reviews

If your customers aren’t leaving reviews, it’s probably because you’re not asking them to. 77% of people would leave a review if asked. If your sales team works closely with your customers, you can ask them to personally ask for reviews, or send an automated email asking for a review after a purchase. People also don’t submit reviews if the process is difficult, so post support tips to help them through the process and let consumers know exactly which sites you want them to post reviews on.

Highlight customer reviews on your website

Customer reviews create social proof and, with the customer’s permission, you can highlight relevant reviews on your homepage or testimonials page. You can also highlight awards you have won from sites like G2 crowd or Forrester Wave, or aggregate reviews from platforms, such as “4.8 stars out of 1929 reviews on Yelp.”

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Use SEO to push good stories to the stop and bad reviews to the bottom

While this is actually harder than it sounds, it’s not impossible to push negative stories and reviews down search engine results pages (SERPs ) over time. The first five search results get 75% of clicks, so if you can push it past the fifth result you’ll be better off. You can do this by keeping an active digital and social media presence, and promoting positive content to get more views. Your PR team can help promote the positive story to a popular news outlet to help outrank the negative content.

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