Thanks to changes in Google’s algorithms and concerted efforts on the part of SEO experts, fake reviews are no long as serious a problem as they used to be. Unethical people will find a way to get around these changes in the system and make life harder for business people offering reputation management services. But for the meantime, the review system is a great way to encourage or discourage customers from eating at a restaurant or drinking at a pub. Let’s take a closer look at this topic and how reputation is affected.
How You Are Perceived Online
The major factor contributing to your reputation is performance: how well you treat customers and the quality of your product or service. If you treat people well, honor your contracts, and provide excellent food, drink, or emergency plumbing, customers find out. They tell their friends, come back repeatedly, and a business probably does well. It helps if advertising is strong, but even really good advertising can only help a place that’s starting from a strong foundation of customer service and professional pride.
Over the internet, however, reputations have been made and shattered by reviews, both in the form of stars or percentages and also in written form. When clients are very happy or very angry, they tell the world by going onto Yelp and other ratings pages to warn or encourage other consumers. There was a time when many of these reviews were not authentic but were, in fact, created by professional writers who had never been to these places or experienced their services. Writers were paid to say bad things or good ones which had a real impact on the place they were writing about.
Those ratings are now vetted more carefully by Google and other search engines, but they’re still out there. Consumers are learning to trust them again.
Understanding How it Works
Your SEO team’s goal is to ensure good ratings outweigh bad ones so that a percentage is around 80% or higher, and most ratings provide 4-stars or better. A firm’s reputation can be affected by encouraging customers to write reviews. Encouragement might come in the form of loyalty points to spend at the store, prizes, or entry into a draw. Customers can “like” a business on Facebook or write a review in Yelp where they are encouraged to say exactly what they think. Even if the report is average or poor, this gives the company an important opportunity. As more people write about a firm, potential customers see the place is busy, well-supported, and established.
How can reputation management strategies support how a firm is perceived offline? This isn’t really an SEO professional’s purview, is it? When business owners respond to complaints, they have the chance to redeem and endear themselves by responding responsibly and respectfully. The adage “there’s no such thing as bad advertising” really means something. Heed what a family says about inappropriate music played at their restaurant or comments from a corporation about a car-hire service that provided an important client with a surly driver and dirty car. What are you going to do about it? This is where online tactics inspire off-line action and, eventually, lead to more positive comments posted over the internet.