Online Reputation Management for Small Business
The Democratization of Influence
How often do you hear that a potential customer found your business through an online search or directory listing and decided not do business with you because of what they read online? Probably not so often. But rest assured that – like a tree that falls in a forest makes a sound even when no one is around to hear it – negative online comments adversely affect your brick and mortar business, even when you don’t hear about it.
The Internet has invented countless ways for consumers to share their grievances with their friends and general public. Unhappy customers have Facebook, Google+ and Twitter on their sides. These sites provide free megaphones that carry customer complaints around the world - spreading word of a problem quickly.
Today, every business is defined – at least in part – by their online identity, even if they don’t have an online presence such as a website. That’s because customers can easily share their likes and dislikes with friends on social networks, or gripe publicly through online directories, message boards, news sites and other social media venues. As a result, businesses are loosing hundreds of thousands of dollars every day due to their negative online reputation.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online Reputation Management is the practice of monitoring and repairing the online reputation of a person or business. Repairing an online reputation involves suppressing negative mentions entirely or decreasing their visibility on search engine result pages, social networks and media sites. Suppressing negative comments often combines online and offline techniques, including the inoculation of positive content in order to supplant negative mentions.
Evaluating Small Business Reputation Online
With dozens of search engines, hundreds of review sites, thousands of online directories, and millions of websites, trying to evaluate your online reputation can be a daunting tasks. We've included below a short list of popular sites you can use to gain an initial assessment of your reputation:
- Angies List - Growing collection of homeowner' experiences with local service companies.
- Bing Search - Web search engine from Microsoft.
- Better Business Bureau - Collection of information about business reliability and fraud.
- BoardTracker - Forum search engine, message tracking and instant alerts system.
- Complaints - Database of first-hand consumer experiences with products and services.
- Complaints Board - Popular consumer complaints website.
- DealerRater - Car dealer review site that features over 40,000 dealers and 400,000 user reviews.
- DexKnows - Local business directory and reviews organized in over twenty categories.
- Glass Door - An inside look at company salary details, and candid reviews by company insiders.
- Google Alerts - Email updates to Google keyword searches, such as your business name.
- Google Blog Search - Provides relevant search results on your business from millions of blog.
- Google Maps Reviews - People can rates places located on Google Maps.
- Google Web Search - Web search engine from Google.
- Gripe - Where people get complaints heard and resolved with the help of friends and followers.
- Honestly - The inside scoop on potential bosses, co-workers, and business partners.
- iRipoff - Consumers can file complaints about a wide range of issues.
- Kudzu - Consumer can review home improvement and repair professionals.
- LOCQL - A social Q&A service to find answers and give advice on any place in the world.
- Measured Up - Customer complaints, reviews, and questions answers by thousands of businesses.
- Pissed Consumer - Where people vent their aggravation about consumer experiences.
- Rate MDs - Where patients can rate their doctors and dentists.
- ScamFound - A forum dedicated to discussing and reporting on consumer complaints and scams.
- Social Mention - Social media search engine and alert system.
- Twitter Search - See who's talking about your business on Twitter.
- Yahoo Search - Web search engine from Yahoo!.
- Yelp - Over 18 million local reviews of small businesses.