Women In Business

A positive business reputation = profit instead of bankruptcy

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Think about what you do before engaging in business with a company. If you are like most people, the journey starts on the Internet, glancing at a company’s search engine results and social media posts. If half of the results list negative feedback, would you do business with them or immediately place them on the blacklist and take a look at one of their competitors?

What are your potential customers seeing when they type your business name into the search engine? Go ahead and look for yourself. Based on what you are seeing, would you do business with your company? Are these results positive or contrary to the message you are trying to portray?

If everything looks good, focus on being proactive, protecting your reputation like your life depends on it. If your company’s search results aren’t so positive, it’s time to kick it into high gear and repair the damage. The good news is, your business reputation can be improved, if you are willing to put in the work.

Focus on your search engine results page (SERP)

In order to stand out from the competition and convince potential customers to choose your business, it is imperative to dominate your search engine results page (SERP), as the information that appears on there is truly the face of the company as others see it. A business that has anything negative in the top 10 search results are going to suffer the consequences. If this is the case for you, it must be dealt with head on.

In order to take control of your company’s SERP, focus on providing high-quality content through blog posts, press releases, videos, and through social media engagement, while responding to any comments daily. The goals is for this new and interactive content to appear on the first page of your SERP, pushing old links of a negative nature down in ranking. While this won’t happen overnight, consistent efforts will eventually translate into results.

Ideally, put together a public relations campaign to not only attract customers, but provide plenty of positive links on your company’s SERP. This will make a company look reputable from the get-go and bring in more customers when combined with SEO practices.

My business already has negative search results – What do i do?

Even though the damage is already done, it is possible to repair the issue. When there are links to reputation damaging information on the first couple pages of a company’s SERP, it is important to find out why. Is there any truth to these negative claims? Can these issues be cleared up by simply contacting the individual that wrote them? Can you directly respond to these posts via comment? Can you make amends if necessary?

In general, the best way to handle negative feedback is to first learn from it, respond to it, apologize if necessary, and fix the issue. In any case, approach any negative feedback with a high level of professionalism that is expected from a company owner. By simply responding politely to a disgruntled customer, a business owner can salvage their reputation by demonstrating that they are concerned with the issue and listening to public feedback.

Maintain a positive reputation on social media

After looking at search engine results, many potential customers will then look up a company on social media websites. This is why it is important to maintain a consistent presence on websites like Facebook and Twitter. Not only will potential customers submit questions, they will also post feedback or reviews that should be responded to immediately. Since customer feedback will often be shared, in some cases virally across the Internet, it must be dealt with swiftly, as negative posts can lead to a wildfire that can burn down any business.

In order to properly respond to anything on social media regarding your company, consider social media listening services. These applications will alert you when anyone mentions your company name or any other keywords requested. As soon as company feedback is posted, motivated business owners should remain proactive by responding promptly, supporting their positive reputation.

Not only are your business social media handles important to maintain and nurture, but your personal accounts should also focus on maintaining a high standard. Since business owners are associated directly with their business, anything they post on their personal accounts can affect their business reputation. Ideally, keep it classy and allow your personal reputation to positively affect your business.

Businesses that only plan to use a few different social media outlets should still register on all of the popular social media websites in order to avoid account hijacking. If an unscrupulous individual purposely registers an account that appears to be related to your business, they can wreak havoc on your reputation and confuse customers. At the very least, create an account on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, SlideShare, and Pinterest, while linking all of these accounts together.

Keep an eye on company review websites

Disgruntled customers will often flock to review websites to give their opinion. This has the potential to be catastrophic for any business owner, as many potential customers will check out these websites before engaging in business. It has been stated that businesses lose 10% of their customers for every one star drop in rating. As such, a business that has a 3 out of 5 star rating will not connect with at least 20% of potential customers.

In order to improve ratings on websites like Yelp or TripAdviser, encourage loyal customers to provide their reviews. When customers provide low rated reviews, look at the feedback honestly and go out of your way to repair the issue. Customers providing feedback on websites like these expect the owner to respond within 48 hours so set up alerts or visit the popular review websites daily in order to thank those who leave positive reviews and make amends with those who leave negative reviews.

In some cases, an individual who leaves a negative review will delete their post if a business owner goes out of their way to correct any problems. Some business owners even offer a full refund and an apology, while focusing on providing better service in the future.

Treat employees with the utmost respect

In addition, businesses who employ others need to focus on maintaining a healthy relationship with them, as angry employees often leave negative feedback on websites like Glassdoor. If a business has a low rating on a website like this, many potential employees will look the other way. This will restrict a business’ potential, as high quality employees are hard to find.

Daily reputation management

Reputation management shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it is a necessary part of the workday. Ideally, set aside one hour a day to maintaining or improving a business’ reputation, as consistent efforts in this department pay off long-term.

Are there reputation management companies?

There is a whole industry based on protecting and improving business reputation. Online reputation management (ORM) companies are often the go to option for companies that have serious reputation issues. While these companies aren’t cheap, their services are often effective, improving both SERP results and social media reputation.

Warren Buffet famously stated, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Keep this in mind and go out of your way to improve or maintain a positive business reputation, as the results will appear in the bottom line.

About Tabitha Jean Naylor

Tabitha Jean Naylor is the owner of TabithaNaylor.com and a certified Inbound Marketing Consultant with close to a decade of experience in both B2B and B2C markets. A self-described digital marketing machine, she prides herself in her ability to craft text that generates action. Her intimate knowledge of how sales and marketing go hand-in-hand has resulted in a variety of successful campaigns for start-ups through NASDAQ traded companies.  Connect with her on Twitter @TabithaNaylor or visit TabithaNaylor.com.

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