Online Review Management

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What is online review management?

These days, customer opinions matter more than ever before, especially for small businesses. Every time a customer has a negative or positive experience with your products and services, they can share their thoughts on it across a multitude of online review platforms — on social media channels like Facebook, local directories such as Google My Business, or specialised review platforms like Yelp. Reviews have a real impact on your business’s chances of success. Online review management is all about maximising the number of customers who share their positive experiences and minimizing issues that can lead to reviews and comments that will harm your brand, being shared online.

Why managing positive online reviews is important?

Word of mouth and professional reviews have always had a lot of influence on customer purchasing habits, but online reviews impact a business’s sales and online visibility in many unique ways that go far beyond this. This is why online review management is an essential marketing activity for all businesses in the digital age. Before trying a business for the first time, many customers check its online reviews and compare them with the competition. In this situation, the business with the best online review profile gets the customers.

Establishing a great review profile for your business will encourage customers, who compare reviews, to pick your business over its competitors. It will also help more new customers find your business, as many customers use review platforms to discover new businesses — especially restaurants. Managing reviews is also a great way for bricks-and-mortar businesses to attract more new customers passing through their area. These days we all use our smartphones along with online maps and reviews to find stores, restaurants, and services. Often, when on the go, review scores and a company profile are the only info customers have to inform their choice of business. This is why a well-managed review profile is a great thing for local businesses.

Having the best review profile doesn’t just mean having the highest rating. In fact, many marketing studies show that a score slightly below 5 stars is seen as more trustworthy by customers, and an overall rating average on review platforms of 4.5 stars+ is a powerful draw for new customers to your business. Especially if your review profile contains appealing pictures of your business and is well-written. The ultimate aim of online review management is to establish this type of positive online presence across all key review platforms and local directories that impact your business.

SMB Tip:

Setting up business listings and tracking all your reviews across the internet takes a lot of time if you do it manually. Fortunately automated solution rankingCoach 360 makes it possible to track your reviews across the internet and synchronise your business listings across all top review platforms and local directories with one click.

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How to manage and encourage positive reviews

Businesses that manage to achieve a positive review profile gain an edge over their competition. They don't achieve this by accident. Positive reviews can and should be actively sought out. For instance, using digital marketing channels such as social media to build a rapport with customers, and, when appropriate, encouraging satisfied customers to post reviews on the platforms that can benefit your business and its digital marketing strategy in many different ways. You may be looking to boost your visibility on Google Maps and attract more customers, getting more positive reviews on your Google My Business page will help with this. Or perhaps your business targets tourists who often look up tourist attractions so you want to work on your TripAdvisor profile. You need to ensure that your business has a well-managed review profile in all the review platforms and local directories that count. This will make a strong impression on potential customers and attract more of them to your business by presenting it in the best possible light.

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Making sure that positive reviews of your business are posted across the most important platforms will also help to balance out the impact of any other less positive reviews. Timing plays an important role in getting this right. Reaching out to customers who are sharing positive experiences on social media as quickly as possible will increase your likelihood of securing positive reviews because the positive experience and association will still be fresh in the customer's mind. A Harvard Business Review study found that businesses who responded to all reviews — good or bad — saw a substantial improvement in their overall ratings. Managing positive reviews is the best way of ensuring that customers' positive feelings towards your business are expressed online and that other potential customers can see this feedback, which will encourage them to use your products and services and help them to find your business.

SMB Tip:

Don’t waste precious time monitoring all your reviews and local directory profiles manually by logging in and out of all the different platforms. Digital marketing solutions like rankingCoach FREE and rankingCoach 360 monitor these channels for you and inform you when key developments occur with in-feed updates and real-time notifications all in one place.

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Why managing negative reviews is important

If you are not monitoring and managing your online reviews across the internet, it’s likely that there are negative reviews out there that you don’t know about. Not all customers who find your business on search engines and local directories will be immediately convinced to buy from you. Many of them will want to read some reviews and check your reputation on social media first. If they find negative unanswered feedback, many customers won’t ask a business for an explanation; they will simply go somewhere else. 40% of consumers will not use a business with negative reviews. If you are not monitoring your reviews or reducing the impact of negative reviews, you could be losing a lot of customers because of damage to your business’s reputation. 94% of customers have gone elsewhere because of bad reviews. Managing your reviews involves scanning the internet to find any negative reviews or comments and responding to them as quickly as possible and finding solutions to these problems. This is proven to improve overall review scores, also studies show that low-scoring reviews are perceived less negatively by other customers if they have a timely and well-written response from the business being reviewed.

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How to manage negative reviews?

These days many customers see social media and review platforms as an extended form of customer feedback. When they are expressing problems with a business’s products and services they are appealing for a solution. When customers feel that they have been heard and that their complaints have been dealt with, many customers are more than happy to post a more positive review. A key part of improving customer reviews is timing, constructively responding to customer complaints on negative reviews within a few hours will give you the best possible chance of improving your reviews. It will also reduce the amount of time that other customers see a negative review without a response. It isn’t possible for a small business owner to track all the negative reviews across the internet without help. Fortunately, software solutions can do all the tracking and monitoring for you, so all you have to do is check your review management feed and respond appropriately to negative reviews.

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How to manage fake reviews

When you find negative reviews, you first need to read them carefully to take in any useful feedback and check for any fake or unfair feedback. For instance, if a customer writes their name on the review or many reviews of your business have been posted in quick succession, you may be able to report these fake or unfair reviews to the review platform. If the customer's complaint is genuine, you need to respond professionally and appropriately to find a mutually satisfactory solution to their problem.

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The impact of online reviews on SEO

Online review management can improve your online review profile and can also improve your rankings on search engines. Search engines like Google use the ratings from trusted review sites such as Google My Business (GMB) as a rankings factor. This is especially true for small businesses that appear in the Google Maps results. Having a more appealing profile on GMB will also improve your site’s visibility. This is especially true for local shops and restaurants that many customers find on Google Maps. Having a good review rating will also lead to more clicks on your profile, which in turn will lead to better rankings and more visibility on search engines.

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How to improve your search rankings with review management

To ensure your website gets the maximum running boost from its review profiles, you must set up your business’s review profile on key platforms. Claiming a profile for your business on Google My Business will maximise the benefit of positive reviews by making crucial links between positive feedback and your website. Tracking and responding to your reviews will also benefit your website’s search rankings. Google gives a better ranking to businesses in its results who respond regularly to reviews given posted on their Google My Business review page.

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Software tools for managing reviews

Online review management software is the marketing tool of choice for those looking for professional results. To manage your positive and negative reviews effectively you need to track your reviews across the internet. Large businesses can employ external agencies or their own team to track and manage these reviews with reputation management software that costs thousands. This brand monitoring solution allows small business owners to track their reviews themselves using their web browser or with the free smartphone app. This makes it quick and easy for SMB owners to protect and grow their businesses online.

If you are a small business owner, you can manage your reviews with the digital marketing app rankingCoach FREE.

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