Whether your business promises top notch cuisine, the perfect pair of jeans or unique tourist experiences, building a strong brand and a positive reputation online is more important than ever. Now that most customer experiences begin with a search engine like Google, your reputation as a business will almost always precede you. In fact, a whopping 76% of people trust reviews just as much as personal recommendations. While reviews and conversations surrounding your brand may feel out of your control, there are certain tactics that will help you build trust with customers, influence sentiment and stand out from the crowd.
Read on to learn more about how to build a better reputation online.
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1. First things first: show up and show out
When customers begin their search, discoverability is critical for your business’s credibility. Creating a free Google My Business (GMB) account is an easy way to increase visibility in local search results, gain reviews and provide more context for potential customers. According to Google, businesses with descriptive GMB listing are 2.7x more likely to be considered reputable.
Another indication of a reputable business is a high ranking in search results. According to HubSpot, 75% of users don’t scroll past the first page of results so businesses that appear on that coveted first page have a competitive edge. Fortunately, with a detailed GMB listing, your business will appear more frequently and higher up in relevant search results. Plus, your full listing will appear on the right side of the results or at the very top on mobile devices.
While GMB will most likely be the first touch point for your customers, 70% of consumers look at multiple review sites when choosing a local business. Claim and customize your business pages on review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook and other niche, industry-specific review sites to cover all your bases.
2. There’s strength in numbers
Not only is Google where most customer journeys start, it’s also the fastest growing online review platform out there. In addition to 63% of consumers reading reviews on Google before visiting a business, nearly 58% of all online reviews are left through GMB listings.
The link between search results ranking and Google reviews proves that there’s strength in numbers. The top three listings in Google’s local search results have an average of 472% more reviews than listings four through six. And those numbers matter to more than just Google’s SEO ranking algorithm. Other than recency and overall star rating, consumers pay attention to the quantity of reviews more than anything else when judging a local business on reviews alone.
3. Reach for the stars
Consumers want to feel confident about where and how they’re spending their money, so it should come as no surprise that positive reviews make them more likely to choose a business. Reviews are more than a star rating, but those stars are critical in determining what consumers consider “positive.” Only 53% of people say they would consider using a business with less than 4 stars. If your business is struggling to reach that ideal rating, it’s time to start reaching for the stars (literally).
The first step to getting more positive customer reviews is simple. Give customers a five-star experience that translates to a five-star review. If you know you’ve got that perfected but still aren’t seeing the reviews roll in, be proactive. Ask your customers for reviews. There’s no shame in that game. In fact, 77% of consumers are willing to leave an online review if asked.
Try to reach out after positive moments along the customer journey and ask open-ended questions with genuine interest. That way you can gauge how satisfied they are as a customer before you ask for a review. As an added benefit to this approach, you’ll receive real customer feedback you can use to improve your business—yielding more positive reviews in the future.
4. Engage with the good, the bad and the ugly
Consumers aren’t just reading reviews, 89% of them also read businesses’ responses to reviews. So make sure you join the conversation and engage with the good, the bad and the ugly. According to a Google study, consumers said that businesses that respond to reviews are 1.7x more trustworthy than businesses who don’t. Additionally, Google has confirmed that response rate is just one more factor that affects the all-important search ranking.
In a perfect world, you’d only have glowing, rave reviews about how your business is the best of the best. In reality, you’re bound to come across at least one negative Nancy. Fear not! You can’t control what reviewers say, but you can control how and when you respond. Depending on the content, there may be opportunities to address inaccurate or misleading information and demonstrate your company’s values. If necessary, take accountability, make it right with your customer and help them make the best decision for themselves. Showing that you care in an authentic, personable way goes a long way. A recent study found that of customers who received a response to their negative review, 33 percent changed their review to be more positive, while another 34 percent deleted their negative review.
5. Unify social media and review management with Sprout Social
With Sprout’s Reviews tool, you can easily monitor, manage and respond to reviews for all your business locations across Facebook, Google My Business and Trip Advisor from one centralized stream. When you integrate social media and reviews in one platform, you can save valuable time, easily analyze what your business is doing well or where there’s room for improvement and build a more cohesive and efficient review management strategy.
Stay focused by organizing reviews by date, message status, rating and profile across networks and locations. Based on your business’s needs, you may also want to use specific filter sets to create custom views. For instance, if you’re working on surpassing four stars, consider creating a view of reviews with three stars or lower. This will help you narrow in on any pain points that come up and focus on customer care where it’s needed most.
If you notice recurring keywords, sentiment or themes in your reviews, consider using Sprout’s Listening tool to continue monitoring those trends and gain insights that will help you make better marketing decisions.
Interested in building better connections with Google My Business? Click here. To get started with Reviews, connect your profiles for Facebook, GMB or TripAdvisor in Sprout today—or click here to begin your free trial.
A guide by Google and Sprout Social