Word-of-mouth is being replaced by online reviews and you need to be aware of what people are saying about your company. The great thing about the online reviews is that, unlike the over-the-fence gossip, you have the chance to publicly respond to what folks are saying about you. The Internet Reputation Package will help you be aware of comments being left about your store.
- Creation and profile set up on Yelp.com
- Creation and profile set up on InsiderPages.com
- Creation and profile set up on CitySearch.com
- Creation and set-up of and/or integration with a Google account
- Creation and set-up of Google Alerts related to your company name (up to ten search criteria)
- List of all websites, usernames and passwords for self-management after initial set-up
The Internet Reputation Package is simply a set-up program and does not include any monthly maintenance.
Why Is Your Internet Reputation Important?
Just as it is important to get a Google Places page created so that Google knows that your business exists, it is important to get your business information listed in as many different business listings, yellow page sites, etc. that you can. Many times these listings, due to the page rank that these sites have, show up as organic search results above other methods. In addition to the Google Places page, you should add your business listing to a wide range of local and national directories. Below is a short list that may help you get the greatest exposure for the least amount of work.
Localeze (www.Localeze.com) is a directory distribution service. By entering your business information into this site, it will help to populate and validate the information that is found in hundreds of local and national business listing/local search directories. Localeze identifies some of their content distribution partners as:
- Cox (Kudzu)
Other sites you should consider getting set up (due to their Page Rank and power within the search results), are:
- InsiderPages (www.InsiderPages.com)
- CitySearch (www.CitySearch.com)
- SuperPages (www.SuperPages.com) – at the bottom there is a link for ‘add or edit a business’
- Yellowbook (www.YellowBook.com) – you may have to request a “Free Consultation” where they will try to sell you an upgraded directory listing
- Local.com (www.Local.com) – do a search for your listing, then click the ‘claim this business’ link to edit the details, if necessary. You do not need to upgrade to their ‘premium’ listing.
The Internet is the new form of “word-of-mouth” advertising and you need to know what people are saying about you. However, unlike person-to-person conversations, there are ways that you can monitor your Internet reputation. It is critical to your business that you monitor, and encourage, reviews and comments about your store. Many of the business directory sites have online review functionality, allowing people to spread their “word-of-mouth” about their experience with your company.
If you use Google to search for an auto-repair shop and you get seven results, which one are you going to pick? If one of them has five reviews that are positive and the others have no reviews, you are going to be inclined to use the shop that has the reviews.
When is the last time you Googled yourself? Do it now – do it often.
As a business owner, you need to actively monitor your Internet reputation. If someone puts a review up that is negative, you need to respond to that immediately, and apologetically, and offer to make whatever it is right. They may take you up on the fix, they may not, but a new consumer looking through reviews will see that you actively and positively responded to it, so in their mind your customer service is good. It will have a “Yes, people screw up sometimes, but at least these guys are willing to work with you.” In fact, having a negative review that you can respond to quickly is sometimes a positive because folks can see that you are willing to make things right, and sometimes that is the biggest fear.
There are a number of review sites that people use to offer their thoughts on businesses. The most popular is Yelp (www.Yelp.com). Yelp has reviews on hundreds of thousands of businesses and has mobile apps and website access for users. It is very easy for someone to open the app and make a quick comment on your store.
Go to Yelp.com and set up an account. After you have your personal account set up, go to the bottom of the screen and click on ‘business support center’ link. Search for your company. If you are there, click the ‘claim this business’ link. If it is not there, click the ‘create my business on Yelp’ link and enter all the information about your company. Upload photos, and update your ‘about us’ section so that it really looks like you are engaging with the system. These keywords may also help with your search engine visibility. Once you ‘unlock’ or ‘create’ your business you will have to verify your e-mail address and then wait for Yelp to review the submission. Once they review the submission you can go in and edit further details on your business (full write-up, etc.).
InsiderPages.com & CitySearch.com
Two other main sites that tend to have a high ranking on Google for their reviews are InsiderPages.com (www.InsiderPages.com) and CitySearch.com (www.CitySearch.com). Repeat the process that you did with Yelp with these sites. Add photos and update the profile with your company info.
Part of the Google Places feature is the ability for someone to write a review about your company when they click on your Google Places page. Since this isn’t an easy destination, this type of review falls much lower on the priority list than Yelp, but it is important to know that if you have a Google Places account you can reply to reviews that are placed about your site.
Google shares some ideas about posting comments that are important to share:
- Be nice. This isn’t just a guideline — it’s also a good idea as a business owner. It’s difficult to win an argument with a frustrated customer, and you want to avoid burning bridges. Even customers who initially had a bad experience might come back! Keep your responses useful, readable, and courteous. In addition, responses should comply with our local content policy.
- Don’t get personal. Remember that you’re replying to feedback about an experience, not about you as a person. In addition, your response is public, and your business name will appear as the “Author” when you respond to the review. Reply in a way that addresses the overall experience, and remember that there’s a real person on the other end. If you believe the review violates the posting guidelines, please use the Flag as inappropriate link.
- Feedback is helpful. Both positive and negative feedback can be good for your business and help it grow (even though it’s sometimes hard to hear). A customer who has written a review has taken the time to invest in the success of your business. If you’ve made a business improvement based on a review, thank the user and share the change.
- Keep it short and sweet. Users are looking for useful and genuine responses, but they can easily be overwhelmed by a long response.
- Thank your reviewers. Respond to happy reviewers when you have new or relevant information to share. You don’t need to thank every reviewer publicly, since each response reaches lots of customers, not just one.
- Be a friend, not a salesperson. Your reviewers are already customers, so there’s no need to offer incentives or advertisements. Tell reviewers something new about your business. Share a tip or something they might not know from their first visit.
The best monitoring tool that I have found to see when and where your company name is showing up on the Internet is Google Alerts. This is another free Google tool that you can add to your account. Once you set up the back-end of Google Alerts, you can create a list of terms that you want to monitor. Every time that phrase shows up in the Google database you will receive a new notification. Be sure that you aren’t putting something generic like “jewelry in New Jersey” or you will get a huge number of alerts. Use your company name and be sure to use quotes around it. For example, if we listed [Dynamic Marketing Partners] we would get results that include ‘Dynamic’ ‘Marketing’ and ‘Partners’ and we would have thousands of results. If we list [“Dynamic Marketing Partners”] we get only results that have that complete phrase. We will use some variations with your company name to see what results come back. It may take a little bit of adjustment to get the right combination that pulls up just your company.
You can get the results of this provided to you either as an RSS feed or as an e-mail, and it can be delivered instantly or on a daily basis. The alerts provide a link that you can click so that you can see exactly what site listed your company name so that you can easily go to that site to read what was written and/or comment.