In previous blogs, we have focused on effective reputation management and how small businesses can prevent getting a bad reputation. This third installment on reputation management illustrates three ways small businesses can assess their online reputation to determine whether it is good or bad, keeping in mind that the absence of any web presence can be just as bad as a negative reputation. If your business has few or no search results, it can look like you’re hiding something, or that there is nothing positive to say about your business. Even worse, if your business gets a negative review, it will be right at the top when searched for, and your business could become synonymous with that single bad review.
Some small business owners pay no mind to their online reputation. They are therefore either ignorant of or unconcerned about what customers are saying about them, which is extremely detrimental as a business’ online reputation has the power to make or break said business. However, even those that occasionally search out online reviews to see what their customers are saying need to be aware that Google algorithm changes occur frequently, which translates to search engine results being in perpetual flux; i.e., positive or negative reviews that were once found way down the line might now be on the first page, and fresh content can always pop up.
It is imperative for small business owners to either enhance or fix their online reputation. In order to do this, however, they must first determine whether their online reputation is good or bad, which can be achieved by following three simple steps:
No. 1: Search your business’ name. Potential customers considering your business will usually research your rep online, which you should also do to assess your standing with customers. If your sales have been suffering and you’re wondering why, those answers can oftentimes be found online via customer reviews, especially if negative, as 83 percent of consumers read online reviews before making purchase decisions. Additionally, do not just limit the search for yourself to Google; make sure to also use other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo.
No. 2: Conduct outside searches. This means enlisting the help of family, friends and/or trusted colleagues to give you an honest assessment of your search results. As human beings, we often don’t agree with others’ assessments of us, which is why it is sometimes crucial to get the opinion of a neutral third party who will give you an unbiased, and perhaps brutally honest, viewpoint, which should not be taken lightly or personally or dismissed as they are trying to help you and your business.
No. 3: Keep going. When searching the name of your business online to assess your reputation, the information on the first search engine report page (SERP) typically tells you a lot about your business’ estimation. However, it behooves you to keep going because people researching your business usually will; in fact, three out of four users will click on results within the first three SERPs. If unconcerned about any info past page one, be aware that if your business’ top 10 search results are primarily negative, you have a bad online rep that needs improvement. If predominantly positive, your reputation is obviously good, but can always be better.