In my first post I briefly described what Online Reputation Management ORM is. However, understanding why it is important to your company will give you further insight as to the depths that your online reputation can affect your business.
- Your customers or clients are looking for it.
- Your competition will use it against you.
- Google hints that, while social signals do not impact search results today, they could in the future. However, some folks already see a correlation between Google’s social site and higher rankings.
- Several studies have shown how positive and negative reviews are changing consumer perspective. This means the data is real and business owners need to embrace it.
- In most cases this digital publicity is FREE!
Your customers are looking at reviews, ratings and social media
As shown in several studies people are relying on other people’s opinions of a business before making a decision. Whether they are going to Yelp or Angie’s List or they are asking their friends about it on FaceBook or Twitter, people are doing their research. Back in the day traditional advertising and word-of-mouth referrals were the only ways to get business. You ran a commercial or posted an ad in the yellow pages and if your ad was interesting enough you prospective customer would call and you could give them the spiel. You were the salesman and, in most cases, their first form of contact with your company. This is not so any more. Now they will Google your name, your company name, your slogan, your phone number, etc. From those searches they can gather an enormous amount of information about you and most of that information is from other people – good or bad. Your future clients are looking, what does your online reputation say about you?
Your competition is using it against you
Have you searched for your company name on the internet recently? Even if you haven’t you can be sure your competition has, and they are using it against you. In some cases you may have some negative comments, maybe even some bogus ones posted by your competition. Now they are telling shoppers in a not-so-discreet way “Yeah, but have you seen their reviews on Yelp?” What if you don’t have any reviews? Then it’s safe to assume their speech is “Yeah, well they must not be doing so hot if they can’t even get their customers to post a review!” Regardless of your situation, you can bet your competition is using your online reputation, or lack there of, to their advantage. The time to take control is now.
Social Signals and Search Results
While the people over at Google say that currently reviews, ratings and other social signals are not altering their search results algorithm, they have left the door open that it could in the future. That is reason enough right there to get on the ORM band wagon. To be honest though, you can see these social interactions affecting searches right now as Yelp listings are almost always at or near the top. Does this mean that Google is giving ranking love to Yelp, probably not. But what it does show is that Yelp and other review sites are providing what Google considers to be real and relevant content to the searcher. Not to mention those bright yellow stars Google puts next to businesses who have set up their Google + pages. Businesses who have FaceBook or other social media are driving traffic to their sites and are getting an advantage from that traffic. Then there is link building, image sharing and the benefits go on and on. So there may not be a direct link between a good online reputation and search engine results, but there are more than enough ancillary reasons to make ORM a big part of your internet focus.
For better or for worse, reviews are changing the game
Study after study shows the same results – reviews are changing the way people make buying decisions. A few years ago it was just speculation as to whether people actually purchased or hired based on online opinions. Now the numbers are real and each year consumers appear to be getting more savvy. One business we dealt with recently was struggling over a decrease in telephone calls. After talking to many prospective customers it was finally determined that people weren’t calling because they already had the information they needed to make their purchasing decision, all from the internet. They didn’t need to hear the ‘pitch’, they had already made up their minds. In this case, the online publicity and information available took the sales job away from the salesman, so it was imperative that they were in control of their online reputation.
What better reason is there than online publicity is free in most cases. Aside from just a few specialized listings, your online reputation is free for the taking. Whether you are getting likes on FaceBook, pins on Pinterest, +1 on Google+ or reviews on Yelp these are free. It is just a matter of providing good service or products, letting your customers know you are there and then turning that into more and more business. There is no better kind of advertising than a happy customer, unless that ad is FREE.
The Digital PR game is vital to every business, especially small business. Now that you understand why it is so important, contact us today and let’s see if we can help you turn your online reputation into cash.