How to Understand Reputation Management, Reviews, and Citations
It’s easy to think that website marketing and search engine optimization are complicated. But marketing a local business online is not any different in principle to the old, traditional forms of marketing. It is about building up your reputation (reputation management), getting your name out there (citations), and treating your customers well (reviews and advocates).
Reputation Management (and Reviews)
Some people think reputation management is something that you do when things go wrong. Things like a series of negative reviews or an attack by a disgruntled employee are examples. If this ever happens, you might need to bring in professional help.
But there is more to reputation management than this.
- Getting Respect – It’s about getting the respect of your customers and peers. Examples of how to do this include blogging and building an active presence on social media.
- Handling Complaints – Reputation management involves dealing with complaints quickly and professionally.
- Use Negative Comments – It also involves turning a negative into a positive. Negative comments can be difficult to read. But they are also a source of information that you can use to make your product or service better.
There are two final things you can foster to help build your online reputation. The first is customer reviews – one or two bad reviews will not be a big problem if they are sitting alongside 40 or 50 good ones.
The second thing is communicating with brand advocates. You’ll usually find them on social media and they’re the people who support you. Engage regularly with your advocates – both online and off.
Citations are listings for your business on websites that can loosely be described as information aggregators. The listing is simple – it includes you name, your address, and your phone number (some people abbreviate this to NAP).
This is important because it helps Google search, as well as other search engines to feel confident about your business.
Start on the Small Screen
As an example, imagine a young actress looking to get a start in the movies. In order to become a star and get roles on the big screen, the actress has to start with lots of smaller parts, and work on jobs she may not like. But her name and face start to become familiar to casting agencies and producers. If she doesn’t do this, the VIP’s of the industry will never learn that she’s talented, and won’t give her a chance.
Every citation that Google finds about your business is another marker that you are who you say you are – or rather, that your business is who you say it is. This gives Google greater confidence and as a result, it will list you higher in search results.
It is important to understand that this is not about links. Some citations will give you links but that is not relevant. You should even take it a step further and avoid directories and websites whose primary purpose appears to be giving you a link. The only thing that is important in a citation is your name, address and phone number.
But there are downsides to citations. Google and other search engines do not like when citations are different. So you might get penalized if your business is on Main Street, but one of your citations has it listed as Main St.
So here are some tips to manage citations:
- Make sure you are listed on all of the big ones, starting with Google+, Yahoo and Bing Local
- Search the internet for citations that already exist and if they are incorrect, ask for them to be fixed
- Look for other places to get your business listed that are relevant to your locality or your industry
- Join local groups like your chamber of commerce or business networking organizations
Local Business Online
Running a business on the Internet is like running a local business in a small town. When you focus on building a community around your website, you’ll make a greater impact with your business. Get involved by looking at local newspapers and listings. Meet other community members to connect with and build relationships. Make your business an engaging, fun place both online and off.
Your online business will enjoy more success if you manage and build your reputation while getting your essential contact details published. Start small and slowly build your brand. Every little bit goes a long way with making your mark to the VIPs on the Internet.