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Local Reputation Management Tips for Small Businesses

October 7, 2019 • Marketing tips • Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
Construction workers shaking hands with customer

About 90% of consumers read online reviews at some point in their purchase journey, according to Forbes. That means your business reputation matters. If you think that your business is too small for your online reputation to matter, think again.

Today, customers search for small businesses on Google to learn about their products or services. You risk losing 22% of your business if a potential customer comes across a negative article on the first page of a Google search. 

How can you manage your brand reputation? Here are a few online reputation management tips for building an authentic, credible small business presence:

Create an SEO friendly website

Ensuring your site follows search engine optimization best practices helps people find your local business.

Focus on creating a user-friendly site, from having it load fast to using an easily navigable layout. Also, use a responsive design so it loads on all devices. You can always use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see whether your site is mobile friendly. 

Ideally, your website should contain all the necessary information about your business, from your contact info to a description of the people behind it. Use your business’ name consistently in headlines and copy. As long as it is SEO friendly, it will give your business a professional appeal. Use your ‘About Us’ and ‘Home’ pages to attract customers and spread your branding message. Highlight great reviews and testimonials.

Manage your business’ online listings and citations

Search engines gather information about your business from online listings like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. Even if you have a website, there is still a chance that customers will only visit such sites to access your business listing information. Some of these sites contain contact information, like your phone number, and business address details.

Your customers could get confused if your business’ details differ between the different listings. Take your time to update the information in each of these listings manually. Alternatively, you can look for service providers who help manage these listings automatically. Accurate listings boost your local SEO—don’t ignore them.

Manage accounts on social media platforms

Social media platforms are an easy way to interact with your client base while building your reputation. Considering that millennials spend about 5.4 hours on social media daily, it’s worth your time to participate. Social media gives your business a human touch. Small interactions, such as sending candid tweets, can help customers get acquainted with you.

To make the most out of these sites, be sure to set up profiles on the social sites that have the biggest impact in your industry. Grow your brand presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Make your business more visible to potential customers in your specific neighborhood on Nextdoor by claiming your free Business page, which enables you to appear in front of verified residents that live nearby and also collect recommendations from your customers.

Consider also creating profiles on online review sites too, like Angie’s List and/or Google My Business. Remember, the more online presence you have, the easier it will be to build a strong reputation.

Ask for feedback and respond to online reviews

Negative customer reviews can hurt small business owners. Customers value the reviews they find online as much as a personal referral. Instead of waiting for such reviews to show up on the different review sites, gather customer feedback to solve any issue proactively. This gives you enough time to prevent any problems from affecting other customers.

Contact customers through emails, chatbots, online surveys, or comment cards to gather their feedback on your organization. If you find new reviews, replying promptly to them helps to portray your business attentive to the customer experience. Be polite, professional, and calm when responding to negative reviews. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

If a review points out an actual problem, be sure to address it as soon as possible. Consider responding to valid low-star ratings and bad reviews publicly and privately with the reviewer. Responding to such online reviews can easily diffuse potential PR nightmares.

Your employees’ online activities also matter

Poor employee reputations can reflect poorly on your business. An unflattering photo or negative comment online could easily make customers question your business and employees. Encourage positive content when discussing your business online.

To prevent public relation issues, be sure to create an online and social media policy that your employees have to follow. The policy should include the do’s and don’ts when working for your business.

An effective reputation management strategy should include review management practices, reputation monitoring, SEO, and social media management. Solidify the trust that your current customers have in your business while attracting new customers. 

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