The manner in which customers find and select a business has changed dramatically in recent years. About 30 years ago, consumers would need to talk to family and friends to find a company that fits best for them. When search engines came into the picture, it was much easier to find businesses in your area. Now, there is much more than this. Consumers that are looking to check out your online reputation can go to any of the above as well as social media sites, review sites, city guides, and use mobile apps.
This may seem daunting, at first, but trust me when I tell you it can be a good thing for your brand. Having this many ways for customers to find your business out of the hundreds like it is a blessing. It also gives you countless different ways to interact with your customers and get them into your store or office. The only downside is that you will have more and more work to do in order to be present on all the different platforms.
I am going to assume that you have your Google My Business page optimized to the way you want it. If you don’t, now is the time to make that happen. Doing this will make this guide much more comfortable to navigate. By having your Google My Business page ready to go, you will have the ability to manage many of your online business listings across the web. It sure beats having to go to multiple platforms to keep everything up to date. Below you will find several different ways to take control of your online reputation.
Identify Your Hotspots
There are thousands of places that your business can be listed on the internet. It would be an egregious waste of time to maintain all of them. You would need a team of professionals to manage all the different sites. And new ones are popping up all the time. Instead, you should identify the websites that are likely to be attractive to the majority of your customer base.
I would suggest that you start with the top 10 or 15 websites. This will be known as your primary list. If you are in the dark as to where to start, look at your competitors and find out where they are listed. Make sure that you don’t just sit on your laurels once you have completed the list. As I said before, new websites pop up all the time. When a better platform is released, consumers will make the switch. You must anticipate this and make the switch with them.
Claim Your Listings
Once you have decided on your primary list, it is time to start claiming your business. If you have the ability to claim the company, then you should not hesitate. This will give you the opportunity to fill in some vital information. It will also allow you to interact with your customers. Make sure that you upload photos of your business, including your company logo. Brand recognition is vital in these situations.
Optimize Your Website
Now that you have identified the websites and claimed the listings where you can, it is time to get serious. There never should be a time that any of the information on your main business website is ever inaccurate. This is where all the significant directories pull their data. Just a few of these directories are Google, UrbanSpoon, and TripAdvisor. If the information on your website is incorrect, then it will be wrong on their websites as well. That is a lot of false information about your company.
Something that is becoming increasingly more important is optimization. To be listed high on a Google SERP, you need to take many different steps. You have to have an adequate number of pages, with a set number of words on each. The list does not stop there. Your website needs to be optimized for speed and mobile searches. Recently, they have started giving bonus rankings to websites that are voice search-friendly. Believe me, when I tell you, this is not a set it and forget it situation. Stay on top of trends, and you will be rewarded.
While it is in your best interest to protect certain aspects of your business, your name, address, phone number, working hours, website, and offerings should be accessible to all that search your name. In fact, you should blast it across the internet to the best of your ability.
One way to accomplish this is by aggregators. Aggregators are companies that you pay to provide your business information to several different directories. The company will collect all the relevant information from you and then send that to the appropriate lists on your behalf. It may sound complicated and unnecessary, but I assure you it is not.
Update and Document Listings
Taking the paid route is not always necessary. If you are looking to save a few bucks, then you can do most of what aggregators do by yourself. Of course, you will not have access to the paid options that they do. Most directories do have a payment option, but your listing can be placed on their site for free. You might not have as many options as paid accounts, though.
Whenever you do make changes to a listing, make sure you document what you changed and when. This will be very important in the months and years to come. Never go more than six months without verifying or updating your business listing. It not only serves as a way to make sure your customers have the right information; it also ensures to the directories that you are still relevant.
Online reputation is so much more than interacting with your customers on Facebook or other social media platforms. There is a lot of work that goes on in the background. As you can see from the above list, you will have your work cut out for you. Take your time and do it properly. Your time and patience will be rewarded.