Nobody’s perfect. That being said, online reputation mistake can and will happen. The question is, how can you catch these mistakes before they happen?
Whether you are a business that is just starting or a long-time business, growing your business can be quite challenging. Add the internet age to the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster. However, we do have an advantage over businesses in the past because we can send our message around the world.
On the other hand, with that much reach, it doesn’t take long for a reputation to topple if an error in judgment is made. Angering a group of people can quickly turn a mountain out of a molehill.
Online reputation is something that must always be managed by you and other business leaders. The best thing about online status is that you have the power to keep it clean just by following some basic rules. Let’s take a look at some common mistakes made by businesses and how to avoid them.
A single negative review is not as bad as you may think. While some say that for every negative review, there must be at least ten people that didn’t bother to write a review that had a similar experience, that may be true, but the truth of the matter is, even that won’t hurt your business to the degree you are thinking. What hurts more than one negative review is more than one negative review about the same thing. Even worse than that is getting angry and firing back at the person that wrote a negative review. Take the time to collect your thoughts and reply to the customer in a way you would like to be addressed if you had a similar experience to the one they are describing.
I think it is important to pause here and let you know that a five-star review history looks terrible on your company. There have been many studies that show a five-star review is almost just as bad as a one-star review. The reason is, when people see that you have thousands of reviews and still have a five-star rating, they get the impression that you are buying reviews. You can kind of see their point. There is virtually no way that thousands of customers have that great of an experience and nothing wrong to say. There is always room for improvement. It is why I rarely give a five-star review. I feel that there is something the company could do to make my experience better. I may not be able to put my finger on it, but certainly, they can think of a few things.
Listing & Profiles
I can’t believe the number of businesses that have not claimed their pages. Simply put, these are missed opportunities that the business could use to get better. Claiming these sites allows you to keep in touch with your customers. Some customers are wary of giving feedback in person. Many businesses do have a suggestion box. That is fine for older generations. However, younger generations do things online. Providing them with ways to get in touch with you is imperative.
It is not good enough to only claim your Google My Business, Yelp, and Yellow Pages pages. You need to go the extra mile and claim all of your other profiles as well. There are a lot of pages that allow customers to comment and share their experience of a business. It might be going too far to say they create the profile for you, but mostly that is what they do. If they want to review your company and it is not on the page, the website will create a profile for others to post on. Of course, you will have to claim your site.
The reason is, if someone else claims your site, they can do a lot of harm to your company. When Wendy’s Twitter account first started insulting tweets, a lot of people thought they had been hacked. This was not the case. What began as a firestorm, has now gained a lot of traction in the foodservice industry. But think if you did not want to respond that way to your customers. It could look horrible for you and your company.
I have said it once, and I will repeat it, buying fake reviews is terrible. At some point, you are going to get caught, and your Google rating will take a significant hit. So, while you may think you are doing a good thing by having excellent ratings, it will not be worth it in the end. You will have to spend years trying to repair the black mark put on by Google.
The other thing is people can tell when you are buying reviews. When there is nothing significant in the review about a product or service that you provide, it is the telltale sign; it is not real. So, whether or not you get caught, your customers are going to know anyhow.
In case you don’t know what negative SEO is, that is where you use SEO strategies to damage the reputation of another business. Much like fake reviews, you are bound to get caught. Google is pretty knowledgeable in the practices of other companies and can tell when you are trying to impact your competitor.
I am going to refrain from listing a bunch of ways that you could negatively impact your competition, but I will tell you that one common thing is spam links. Businesses will go on and put links to their competitor in inappropriate places in hopes that Google will downgrade their rating.
Online reputation is the currency in today’s age. You must take the steps necessary to grow your business without making any mistakes. When and if you do make a mistake, don’t be afraid to own it. Customers are likely to overlook mistakes if they know you are genuinely remorseful of your actions.