On the internet you can find information about any and everything. The problem lies is whether or not the information is true or false. In the age of “fake news” it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is not.

This is something that is particularly important to businesses. If there is false or misleading information online about your business, then your reputation will certainly suffer. There are lots of websites such as Rip off Report who publish huge amounts of information about businesses around the world, and they actually do not verify whether or not the information is actually true. It is so easy for a competitor, or even an ex-employee to easily cause you and your reputation a lot of harm in a very little time.

Many people will search for reviews about businesses or products that they are interested in, and research that was carried out by Bright Local a while back showed that just under 80% of people would trust online reviews. That is a huge percentage, and shows that who have no or mainly negative reviews will be literally sending potential clients over to their competitors.

It is very important that your brand or business is shown in positive light online, and the more positive reviews you have, the better. There are a number of ways that you can help to protect your name and brand online as well as increase your reputation.

Google My Business

One of the first steps that all businesses should take is to sign up at Google My Business and claim your business listing. You will be able to add information about your business including images and opening hours. By having your business claimed, you will have full control of your business listing and will be provided with access to the various features that Google provide including their insights with information such as Insights which shows you information about searches, views and actions taken for your business when searched on Google.

The other important feature are the Google reviews where you can check reviews as they appear and are also given the ability to respond to them. However, it is very important that you reply carefully to negative reviews. Before posting a reply, take a step back and think about how best to respond so that your response will be seen in a positive light. Negative reviews are part and parcel of the digital world – the important thing is how you deal with such reviews. Doing so in a positive light will speak greatly for your business and how you communicate with your clients.

Social Media

It is very important to create profiles for your business on the main social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If your business is one where you can take lots of photographs to showcase your business or service, whether you be a florist, catering company or a hotel, then it will be worthwhile also setting up profiles with Pinterest and Instagram, where you can frequently share your images with your audience.

Once you have set up your social media accounts, it is important that you start posting on them. Having empty social media accounts is almost as bad as having none at all. Keep posting about your business or services, as well as other related information in your industry. No one will want to keep following you if all you post about is your business and make the same posts again and again. Try and follow the 3-1 rule, where one of every three posts if about your business, and the other two are general information, related or local news, or even retweets from others who are in the same industry.

If you feel that you won’t have the time to post on multiple social media accounts on a regular basis, then you should consider connecting them using IFTTT (If This Than That) which is a really clever and easy to set up system that allows you to create recipes that will do things such as …

If I post on my Facebook, then share that post on my Twitter/Instagram

Once you have this set up, then you will just need to post on one social media profile, and then that post can be automatically shared across all of your others, without the need for you to go and sign into each account and manually post.

You’ll be surprised how many people do get in contact with businesses via social media. Facebook in particular is very popular and having a good and informative business page set up in Facebook can do wonders for your business.

Become an Authority

Being an authority in your market or industry is what you want to aim for. You want to be recognized as the go-to person for anyone looking for what you offer or provide. One way to do this is write articles about your industry and guest post on other websites. This is a win-win situation for both parties – the website gets a well written piece of unique content, and you get your name and link to your business included on the article.

There are lots of guest posting services online that you can sign up for, but in some cases, you might be better off simply contacting websites in your market and asking them if they are open for a guest post. In most cases you will find that websites are more than welcome to post your articles – but do make sure that they are well written and unique, as if you try and submit an article you’ve pulled off the web and simply added your name and URL to, then in most cases, it won’t be accepted.

Another good way to show that you are authority on a subject is to frequently post in related Facebook groups or forums that are based on your industry. Show that you are willing to help with questions that people may have, or provide some insights of your own. This type of authority building can go a very long way.

Monitor Online Reviews

There are lots of review websites all around the net. Some of focused on specific industries and markets while others will show reviews of everything from plumbers to car hire companies. Find out which are the main review websites for your market – for example, TripAdvisor is one of the most important for anyone who works in the travel and tourism industry.

You should be regularly monitoring reviews of your business online, and where possible, try and respond to all reviews. If someone leaves a positive review, then reply with something like “It was a pleasure to work with you, and we hope to see you again in the future”. For negative reviews, it is important to be careful how you respond, and you should always try and keep your response positive, even for the most negative and damning reviews.

There will always be negative reviews – it is something you can’t avoid, but if you are able to counter the few negative reviews with lots of positive ones, then this will do you and your business a lot of good. You’ll be surprised how many people will be willing to leave you feedback and reviews if you just ask them. If you’ve provided a good service, then most people will be more than happy to leave you a positive review.

 

However you communicate with your customers, you will want to do so in a professional manner. If someone is complaining about your service or product, speak to them and see how you can make things right. Just by showing that you are willing to help and fix the problem will show people that you care not only for your business but your clients as well.

Don’t let any negative reviews be the first thing that people find online when searching for your business. You will want people to see your business in a positive light, and by following the various steps mentioned above, you can quite easily and quickly achieve this. However, this is something that is ongoing, and will require you to spend some time each week actually monitoring reviews, updating social media and building your authority.