Building a strong reputation is essential

Do you have a great product or a great service? That’s wonderful. But it’s not enough. Do your customers know your products and services are great? More and more, people only will buy — and sometimes even shop — from highly rated companies and organizations with good reputations. A recent survey of online shoppers showed that 78% of people say it is very important to look up a business online before deciding to interact or do business with them. A study by the Etail Group shows that 92% of users read internet reviews, and a Cone Inc. shows that 89% of users trust online reviews. So positive reviews and a good reputation are critical and they can have a significant impact on your Search Engine Marketing efforts (including Paid Search and SEO). How?

Put simply, when customers search for something online, they are looking for the best solution to their issue. Sounds obvious but let’s think about two key words here: “best” and “solution” and what they mean. Most prospects start by searching for a solution. That also happens to be where most marketers doing Search Engine Marketing focus all their attention. They ask, “What words will prospects search for when they are in need of the products or services we sell?” It’s a fair enough question but whether it’s spelled out in a search query or not, most consumers are performing a two-part search. Part one is the outward question that presents itself as a search query, “Who has what I need?” but the second question that often goes unstated but is equally important is, “Who’s got the best of what I need or who will best solve my problem?” This is where reputation in the form of reviews and ratings is critical… your reputation is usually sitting right there at the top of the screen or within one click. In most industries, people choose to work with the best. Is your online reputation better than your competition? Will prospective customers and clients choose you over other options they see on the Search Engine Results Page? If not, how do you build a reputation for your company that will have you shining above your competition and will make you the most attractive choice?

Reputation management essentially is managing how people perceive your brand or company. To improve this perception, you need to create strong content and monitor and interact with others regarding conversations about your products and services, and your brand. The following steps can help you to build and maintain a strong reputation:

1. Create positive content. A steady flow of positive pages and search results can help set you apart as an expert and can cover over or reduce the impact of any negative content. One way to achieve this is with a blog. Illustrate your expertise in your field – include interesting and insightful information so people will actually read it.

2. Be meaningful. Be valuable to your readers. Answer their questions (stated or unstated) and give them information that is helpful to them. If you can benefit your readers, they’re more likely to talk about your post and share it with their friends and followers, which will spread your words much farther.

3. Be honest. Honesty can help you build a reputation as an expert. If you get caught in a lie, the hit to your reputation could be severe.

4. Limit the self-promotion. People don’t want to listen to a constant sales pitch. If you provide useful information to your readers, you will promote your broader message and brand. But if you focus only on yourself, you’ll turn away your audience. Keep in mind what’s in it for them. How do people benefit from visiting your site?

5. Be social. While a strong blog can set you as an expert, it’s not helpful if no one sees it. Being active on social media can help build followers and direct traffic to your site. Different social media channels and platforms have different audiences. Know where your audience is and how to interact with them.

6. Respond quickly and often. Social media is supposed to be social. Draw out your readers with questions and challenges. Encourage them to interact, and respond when they do.

7. Give back. When people interact with your blog and social media, post to theirs.

8. Get good pub. Gain publicity by writing articles for other blogs, buying web advertising and looking for other ways to ethically promote your brand or company as much as possible.

9. Respond properly to negative reviews. If you catch and address negative reviews quickly, you are much more likely to convince the reviewer to provide a better review. If the reviewer is unwilling to change the review, you may be able to post information that addresses, corrects or provides additional information about the negative post. But don’t get into a fight with people looking to cause trouble. And don’t make personal attacks.

10. Encourage reviews. Since you’re looking to improve your reputation, make sure to ask only happy customers to rate you and leave you a review. Don’t ask all customers to post reviews and don’t make the mistake of publishing links to your Google page or Yelp for this purpose. Doing so invites reviews from both happy and unhappy customers, and possibly even competitors. A good online reputation builder service will do all the hard work for you, communicating directly with customers and separating the happy from the not so happy. Happy customers are encouraged to leave reviews and unhappy customers get a feedback form that goes to their account manager or service department. A good reputation builder program can improve your online reputation quickly.

If you want to generate business from your Search Engine Marketing effort (whether paid or organic), make sure to 1) Show up in the Search Engine Results Page when prospects search for the products or services you sell and 2) have a great reputation in the form of positive reviews and ratings that illustrate you clearly as the best choice. If you have any questions about your online reputation or need some words of advice, feel free to give us a call at 203-836-8390 or shoot us a note.  All AdEdge clients get our Reputation Builder service free of charge for six months. If you’re not a client, feel free to schedule a 15-minute demo of our affordable and highly effective AdEdge Reputation Builder service. And do sign up for our newsletter to get monthly digital marketing tips delivered straight to your inbox.