As a local business owner in the 21st century, you’re probably familiar with online reviews. Customer experiences are incredibly important to the success of any business, but with the rise of websites like Yelp, and Facebook and Google’s review functionalities, it’s more crucial than ever to put some thought into what’s being said about your services, and the best way to start is to take action on your profiles.

You probably already have a Facebook page and a Google My Business listing, but have you claimed your Yelp and TripAdvisor profiles? These are very popular review sites, and as Greg Sterling writes, should be claimed:

Business profile and review best practices from TripAdvisor and Yelp

Claim and complete profiles

TripAdvisor found that “Restaurants with hours of operation on their TripAdvisor listing see 36 percent more engagement than those without them.” And Yelp says that “Businesses who complete their profiles see, on average, 5x the customer leads each month.”

Add at least 10 photos

TripAdvisor explained that “restaurants with 11 – 20 photos see double the amount of diner interaction over others with no photos at all,” and those “with at least one Management Photo see 44 more engagement over those with no photos.”

Yelp data show that “a business with 1-5 reviews and at least 10 photos sees 200 percent more user views than a business with the same number of reviews and no photos.” Read more…

Obviously, having control of your review profiles are important. You need to know what’s going on with your reputation. It should be a priority to optimize them as the article states.

Unfortunately, you probably already have negative reviews, especially if you’re in the service industry. These reviews are very powerful and can do a lot of harm to your brand. It’s on you to mitigate the damage Here’s what Bright Local advises:

How Do You Fix or Repair Your Online Reputation?

So how do you fix your bad online reputation?

Online reputation management is tough for one main reason. Negative reviews or comments are public on the largest stage of all — the world wide web. This means that every negative comment, every stone launched at your brand leaves a digital scar that other potential customers can openly see.

Rather than waiting and being reactive to potential reputation management issues, the best approach is for your business and marketing plan to include ways to get positive reviews from your happy customers. The goal: get more positive reviews and those good reviews will eventually push the negative reviews down and out of view. Read full article….

So even though online reviews are, well, online, the best way to address them is to provide better service offline. Once that’s out of the way, you should make an effort to get satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, and the more you get, the less the negative ones will matter.

However, one thing you should absolutely not consider is buying reviews. This is not only unethical, but it also leaves you vulnerable to negative exposure. Here’s what Mike Blumenthal had to say about the most commonly spammed business categories on Google:

REVIEW SPAM – WHICH GOOGLE CATEGORIES ARE WORST?

Movers, garage door openers & numerous home care services dominate the list. But there are a number of professionals including PI Lawyers, Insurance Agents, Real Estate and Dentists. I suppose it is no surprise to find Website Designers.

If you go through the complete list and aggregate dental and legal categories you will see that they are both in the top 5 although neither can hold a candle to the Moving industry.

As David Mihm noted, when looking at these categories, they primarily occur in service related industries where review acquisition is not a “natural occurrence”. And that applies regardless of whether they are blue or white collar industries.

As the list indicates, review spam is way more common in industries where reviews aren’t commonly left. You wouldn’t often think of reviewing your mover as much as the pizza place. No matter what your industry is though, buying fake reviews is not a good idea. Stick to the previously mentioned reputation management strategies and market your business ethically.

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Makki's Marketing provides local marketing services to small businesses here in the Fort McMurray area.

We believe in the power of the internet when it comes to generating leads, and work with local businesses to help them improve where they need it most, whether that may mean a new website, quality SEO, or even professional AdWords campaigns.

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