How Online Reviews Impact Your Brand's Image
Are you one of the 91 percent of consumers who search reviews online before making a purchase? According to BrightLocal, the number of people reading online reviews is on the rise. A recent 2016 survey revealed that 50 percent of respondents claimed that they regularly check reviews, 41 percent responded that they occasionally check reviews and only nine percent acknowledged that they never check reviews.
Reviews and Local SEO
MOZ states that SEO ranking is influenced, in part by review signals including quantity, velocity and diversity – and there are a number of online review platforms to be leveraged to that end. Review sites such as Google, Yelp, Facebook, Trust Pilot and more offer consumers the opportunity to share their experiences and offer businesses the opportunity to improve online visibility.
Google My Business
Businesses relying on local search should have an updated and properly optimized Google My Business profile. It’s free, and it can significantly improve local search visibility.
• Claim your Google My Business page
• Choose your categories – Google advises choosing the fewest number of categories required to adequately describe your business
• Add a clear and unique description
• Add hours
• Add business details such as phone number, website and physical address
• Add photos – interior, exterior, staff
• Make posts – Google now provides the ability to post updates directly to your profile. Google removes the posts from the default view after seven days to ensure that they are timely, so at the very least you will want to publish a new post each week.
• Remind your legitimate customers that they can review you on Google
• Update your listing often and monitor your reviews
It is a well-known fact that the best form of advertising is word of mouth. Before the digital age, we relied on our offline neighbors and friends to recommend restaurants, plumbers, accountants, doctors, home improvement contractors and more. While word of mouth is still the dominant resource for business recommendations, online review sites and Facebook have significantly altered the landscape.
At the end of March 2017, Facebook reported over 1.28 billion daily users and the use of reviews and recommendations on the site is growing. BrightLocal’s 2016 survey found that 47 percent of respondents said that they had used Facebook to recommend a local business to others within the previous 12 months. This percentage is up significantly in comparison to 30 percent in 2015 and 16 percent in 2013. In fact, behind word of mouth, Facebook was the largest review/recommendation site reported followed by Google with 25 percent.
Why Reputation Management
Acquiring and maintaining a positive online reputation is key to helping a brand succeed. There are many methods for businesses to utilize to manage the online review process and protect their reputation and bottom line. When dealing with the public and a diversity of personalities, it is inevitable that most businesses at some point will receive a negative online review. How a business approaches the challenge of the subpar review can greatly determine public perception. Addressing legitimate concerns with a solution and a follow up plan of action can help circumvent similar reviews cropping up.
The Good News
There are a significant number of review management systems available for businesses concerned about their online reputation. Many of these services/systems offer subscribers the ability to email or text customers after each interaction to inquire about their experience and solicit feedback. If the customer offers a positive response, they are provided with a review link and asked to leave their comments on review sites such as Google My Business. In cases where the customer renders a negative response, the recipient is given an opportunity to provide feedback relating to their experience via a simple form. This process can help businesses stay ahead of the review process and resolve issues to improve customer satisfaction and reduce the number of negative reviews.
Today, consumers are savvier and more informed than years past. With the world at our fingertips, we can research and gain a greater understanding of the purchasing process which influences our behavior.
Businesses that are looking to dominate their categories must be diligent and protect their greatest brand asset – their online reputation. I95
Sandra Rodenas is a marketing professional with over 26 years industry experience. Her education includes both an undergraduate (UNF) and an MBA (WU) in marketing (graduating with honors in both). She is owner of Your Own Marketing offering customized marketing services for businesses in Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.