In this article, we’ll explore some of the more recent wisdom from experts around the web on the benefits, pitfalls, and future of online reputation management as it relates to your business.
The connection between online reputation and brand journalism
We’ll start out with a TED talk by Zoltan Tundik. He makes a number of good points in this talk regarding what should be done to improve online reputations, and why it’s important.
One of the least known points is that a series of press releases which also includes branding messages is good for building online reputations. We couldn’t agree more. In fact, instead of press releases, we now call it brand journalism. Syndicating these articles also carries authority backlinks to the company’s website, helping drive local search rankings.
Brand journalism consists of 4-6 articles syndicated to authority websites that have interesting or useful (to the reader) information and a light brand message and/or contact information.
I found it best to skip the beginning corny joke and proceed to the 4 minute, and then 8-minute marks. You’ll get the most benefit there.
What’s the future of Online Reputation Management (ORM)?
Next, we’ll hear from three experts in the field of SEO and online reputation management, discussing some of the trends and challenges with ORM. This is followed by a transcribed Q&A session for some really good general insights (how do you get online reviews if you’re a funeral home?).
Jason Brown: “I think there will be a bigger crackdown on fake review networks, and unscrupulous companies that sell snake oil reviews. I’ve got a funny feeling that the space is going to change, and a lot of people will have their butts handed to them. And this will be a big win for consumers.”
Joel Headley: “Reputation products are really becoming a commodity in the market. Just like how citations used to provide a huge jump in ranking and SEO benefit to a local listing, that was the case early on for reviews too. This will become less true, but only because it will become a baseline of what everybody needs to do. If you’re not doing it you’re going to be left behind, but if you just do that one thing, you won’t get a huge boost. In terms of local search performance, it will be a must do, but won’t differentiate you from competitors.”
Garrett Sussman: “I don’t think it’s apocalyptic for review platforms. I’m optimistic that the powers that be will become better at discerning the fake and bought reviews, and allowing for authentic reviews. I think it will be interesting with Google and Facebook. As Google better hones their skills over making sure skills are authentic I think they’ll grow in value. For Facebook, it’s cool to see what they could do when people make a recommendation. I think there’s a lot of social potential here. We’ll also see local networks like Patch and Nextdoor start to mature and provide even more competition in terms of what’s happening locally.”
“In terms of local search performance, I see online reviews becoming a ‘must-do’. Just making an effort in this space isn’t going to be the differentiator it currently is, as everyone will be doing it because of reputation management tools.” – @headley #ReputationWebinar
— BrightLocal (@bright_local) August 29, 2018
The future of ORM Q&A
Q. How do you get reviews addressed or removed when someone is not your customer? I see PI Attorneys get negative reviews after a free consultation and when the client is not a good fit, they complain. Why wouldn’t that be as bad as a fake review? To tell a client it’s not a fit and have to deal with negative reviews online.
A. A review on Google doesn’t need to be from a paying customer. As long as someone has an experience with the business they are eligible to write a review. If the review seems off-topic you can try flagging them for review by Google. – Colan Nielsen
Q. Regarding medical reviews on social platforms, do you find it difficult for your clients to respond beyond a simple ‘Like’ due to HIPAA regulations?
A. It’s an interesting one, for more sensitive industries like healthcare I’d also look to see if you can solve the issue privately i.e by emailing or calling the customer that has left a review and try and solve off public spaces. If that’s not an option then there’s a good guide you can follow here.
Q. When you manage a practice’s reviews and reputation is it typical to have the client respond that review, or does the client dictate how you should respond to a positive or negative review?
A. It doesn’t really matter who responds. However, we always suggest that the business owner (or Doctor) isn’t the one to reply if it is negative. Too many emotions are involved. So take the time to let the emotions pass, write a draft response and let your marketing agency review it. What is important is that HIPAA rules are taken into consideration. – Colan Nielsen
Q. Speaking of industries, how would you approach getting reviews for a funeral home?
A. This is a very sensitive industry so I would tread very carefully. This I feel needs to be controlled by somebody in the business who has spent time with the customer: the last thing you want to do is ask an overwhelmed grieving family member to leave a review, that lacks real class and will backfire. Unless the customer has expressed happiness with the service though I would tread very carefully. Less direct approaches such as a link to review in an email signature might be another option to consider. Sensitive industries will never receive as many reviews as hospitality businesses, so try to benchmark your review number against competitors only. After all, they’ll be facing the same challenges. – Matt Coghlan
Q. What are your best methods for getting negative reviews removed on Google Maps?
A. The first thing you always do is flag the review from within your GMB dashboard. If the review is still live after three days, contact GMB support on Twitter. – Colan Nielsen
Q. How would you recommend responding to things that are out of your control? (E.g. wait time is lengthy.)
A. There’s always going to be instances where something out of the business’s control causes a negative experience. In your response, explain in detail: 1. All of the factors that contribute to the issue 2. What you’re doing to improve this in the future 3. Express a genuine apology and potentially offer them an incentive to return. What’s important is to educate potential customers in your response to the circumstances and how you operate as a business. – Matt Coghlan
Q. Should we respond to reviews that have no text?
A. Yes. It’s an opportunity to show your personality as a business owner to future customers. – Colan Nielsen
Q. How important are doc sites like HealthGrades and Vitals in healthcare?
A. Very important. 3rd party websites such as those are just as important to get reviews on as Google. They are typically marked up with review schema so you get the review snippets in the organic results, and they get pulled into the businesses knowledge panel. Google also pays close attention to the sentiment in 3rd party reviews. – Colan Nielsen
Q. How do you deal with legal issues in reviews? That is, someone who the company has a lawsuit leaving negative reviews? Do you respond?
A. I’d most likely avoid responding if it’s an active lawsuit. I’m no legal expert but that’s my gut feeling. Great question. – Colan Nielsen
A bad review isn’t always bad for your business (hint: a 5-Star reputation is not advisable!)
Got bad reviews? – most businesses have a few, If not, they soon will have them. Negative reviews (as long as you have many more positive reviews than negative ones) are a golden opportunity to build relationships with customers and prospects.
The cardinal rule is to respond publically, sincerely, and professionally to both negative and positive reviews.
The other cardinal rule is to keep improving your products and services.
Here are some other useful insights:
Most business owners assume that it’s best if their business has 100-percent positive reviews. This actually couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Think about how you evaluate businesses and products when you read reviews online. If you’re like most shoppers, you likely have a bit of distrust for anything that has all positive reviews.
When something has all positive reviews, the typical shopper will either assume that these reviews aren’t legitimate, or that the company has found ways to bury negative reviews. Shoppers know that no company is perfect, and they don’t expect yours to be. When they see the occasional bad review, that makes them trust the positive reviews more.
It’s important to realize that a shopper isn’t going to see a negative review for your company and automatically decide not to choose you, especially if you have quite a few positive reviews that more than makeup for it. Instead, they’ll read the content of that negative review to see what the problem was. If the critique isn’t a deal breaker for them, then they may still choose your service. They’ll also be looking to see how you handled the negative review and if you rectified the situation.
Of course, there are certain types of bad reviews that don’t benefit you at all and can do serious damage to your business.
Reviews build business
Here’s another article from brightpast.com. A well managed reputation strategy helps local and large businesses to grow their revenue by marketing their review success.
By now you already know your online reputation is your most valuable marketing asset. Having a stellar reputation is crucial to growing your business.
That’s because 97% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase decision. And 85% of those consumers trust a review as much as a personal recommendation.
But did you know that many companies are now using reviews as a sales tool?
You can send an online review portfolio of your team member to your customer before an appointment. This helps to establish your team member as a trusted advisor and makes it easier for them to close deals.
Because when the time comes for your team to recommend a particular piece of equipment or service, your customer will know they’re credible and trustworthy based on all the great reviews they’ve earned.
Reviews mean revenue. In fact, according to one study by Moz, 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. And one negative review could cost you nearly a quarter of all potential customers who began researching your brand.
What does this mean for you? Looking good online is essential to bringing in new business.
What other ideas do you have about growing a business through ORM?
Photo By Keenan Pepper
Photo By FindYourSearch