When users type in keywords pertaining to your business on a search engine, the internet responds with anything remotely connected with those keywords. Thus, your business, your business rivals, any press releases or any reviews on Yelp or Angie’s List – all these end up, merely a click away. With smartphones making access to the internet even easier, prospective customers now have the resources available to pick and choose, weigh the pros and cons, before opting to do business with you. The choice could well rest on the fact that you had only 1 Yelp review which was negative while your competitor had 3 reviews of which 1 was negative. Building a reputation was difficult anyway; building a digital reputation is even more cumbersome.
With reviews on the internet accessible to users all over the world, erasing the negative reviews is almost impossible; handling the negative reviewer and convincing them takes time and effort and ascertaining the credibility of the source where it came from becomes immaterial. The fact remains that whatever has been written is out there on the internet, open and accessible to all. Therefore, keeping a close vigil on what is being spoken or written about your business on the internet – is a constant effort.
Cases have emerged where lawsuits have been used to fight back bad reviews, but these are expensive and do not guarantee the undoing of damage. Therefore, the only weapon with which one can ensure a strong online presence and, in turn, a good digital reputation, comes from implementing a strategy that can keep you ahead of the competition. A few steps to take to ensure this are:
- Manage online content for your business and ensue that the latest and most accurate information – from your products and services to your contact numbers – is listed correctly online.
- Use SEO to improve your rankings on the search engines so that prospective customers see you before they spot the competition.
- Use Twitter and Facebook regularly, to stay in touch with patrons who could well, lead others to you.
- Enhance your website so as to ensure that the message of your brand and values remains clear from those of your rival. If your customers can think of your company’s name before the keywords associated with your business come to mind, you have succeeded.
- Monitor the review sites like Yelp, Google etc. to ensure that your reviews are positive and fair. If you come across any negative reviews, try and put out the fire as soon as you can so that customers doing an internet search on you, see you as being concerned, proactive and solution-oriented.