A business is only as good as the reputation it holds in the eyes of the public.

In the world of digital marketing, it is easy to have your reputation tarnished due to one customer who took to Google or social media and defamed your entire organization; however, it’s possible to mitigate a situation like this, and set your online business reputation up for success.

A Proven Strategy For Success

Our team at Nitro Plug Digital Marketing conducted a study on a small local business in Los Angeles, Lion’s Bike Shop, to see what the impact would be on their online sales after successfully building and managing their online reputation. The business primarily serves the students of, and the community surrounding, the University of Southern California (USC). Because of their location, August is typically their largest revenue month, as this is the month when students arrive on campus and begin to shop for campus transportation, bicycles. We wanted to monitor the impact of building their online reputation to see if this would have an impact on sales for August 2019. We focused on three key areas: 1) collecting 5-star reviews, 2) increasing their Google Rating, and 3) increasing their Google ranking.

We began working with Lion’s Bike Shop in February 2019. Thankfully, they already had many of the tools in place for us to build from. They already had every other bike shop beat on price, and their service has been referred to as the best in the business. This made the job of building their online reputation much easier because they were already highly respected in the community. Even USC has their fleet of security bicycles serviced by Lion’s Bike Shop.

By the time August 2019 came around, we had grown Lion’s Bike Shop’s total reviews to 160, an increase of 191%. We were also able to increase their Google Rating to a strong 4.6 and move them into the #1 spot in the Google rankings for their primary keywords. This growth in Lion’s Bike Shop’s online reputation put us in an excellent position for student arrival and the business began to attract online customers from overseas. These were foreign students who were planning to attend USC and were able to find Lion’s Bike Shop through their increased visibility on Google. Everyone wanted to pre-order their bicycles from the best local shop in the area and that’s what happened. In August 2019 alone, Lion’s Bike Shop increased its online revenue by 288% and its online orders by 267% over the previous August.

No other marketing tactics were conducted, this growth was solely organic through building an excellent online reputation on Google My Business. After conducting this study, it became crystal clear that a solid online business reputation can do much more for your business, than move you up in the search rankings and this is something that every business should be taking advantage of.

Below we will explain in more detail the strategies we used to help Lion’s Bike Shop dominate their niche and how you can utilize these tips for your business!

The Foundation Of Your Business Reputation

Just like any construction project, you first need a solid foundation to build from. Choose high visibility online review platforms like Amazon, The Better Business Bureau, Facebook, Google, Yelp, or UpCity, and start setting up your business profile. If there are platforms that are specialized for your industry, make sure to create your profile there as well.

When creating your profiles, be thorough and descriptive. This is the place where your prospective customers and clients will find you to learn about your business and its reputation. Showcase what you have to offer and start to slowly build from that foundation.

Building Your Online Business Reputation

Just like a house, business reputations aren’t built in a day. Most of the time it’s brick-by-brick, and a good reputation requires quality bricks.

First, it’s extremely imperative to provide above-average products or services. Give your customers or clients something fantastic to share to the world. Are your products better than the next business? Are your prices lower? What’s going to set you apart and why should anyone purchase from you? Is your product or service worth someone referring to their friend too?

Secondly, it’s critical that you and your staff present yourselves in an engaging, kind, and knowledgeable manner. The absolute worst thing you can do for your business’ reputation is to neglect your customers or be rude. Have you ever been sat at a table in a restaurant, only to be there for 20-minutes without anyone greeting you? Granted they may have been busy, but could they have at least said, “welcome folks, I apologize for the inconvenience, I’ll be with you shortly and send an appetizer on the house?” That would’ve taken 10-seconds and defused any anxiety you might’ve had towards having to wait. It’s the small things like this that can build or crumble your business reputation.

Appraising Your Reputation Through Online Reviews

Now that you have your business profile on several major online review platforms, and your products or services are the talk of the town, then this step should be a piece of cake.

The key to step 3 is to hand-select customers or clients who you know have had a great experience with your company and ask them to leave a review, it’s that simple. Send them the URLs where you’d like them to leave reviews and create an Excel spreadsheet, so you can keep track of who you’ve contacted. Email is probably the best form of contact because you can include the link, but if you don’t have their email address, you can call them. You can even incorporate the question into your routine after a transaction.

The key is to ask and follow-up. You’ll be surprised at how many customers or clients are willing to participate in your online business reputation after receiving a great product or service from a business.

Online Business Reputation Maintenance

If you have no idea what people are saying about your business, you can’t effectively manage your business’s reputation and make changes for the better. Closely monitor your online business reputation and have processes in place to act on what’s being said online.

Look for themes among the reviews, and see if there’s anything that’s actionable. If you see multiple negative reviews around common themes, you need to be open-minded and address those as potential opportunities for growth. Don’t be afraid to reach out to an unhappy customer and try to make the situation right, they’ll value the fact that you’re addressing their concern and they may even change their mind.

Good Business Reputations Rank On Google

Referring back to the Lion’s Bike Shop case study, we were able to reposition them in Google’s rankings from the #3 to the #1 spot for their keyword category, and in their local area. You’d be surprised at how a strong business reputation can help you increase your visibility and rank higher on Google. Google wants to make relevant recommendations using businesses with strong reputations.

Your business’ Google rating is solely dependent on your review ratings. Google takes the average score of all of your combined reviews and this is what they use for your Google rating. There are a lot of other factors that come into play but your Google rating is definitely a contributing factor to where you rank in the search engine. Higher Google ratings have a better opportunity to rank #1 on Google, so it’s extremely important for your business to have excellent reviews, which is why Lion’s Bike Shop was able to rank so high and outperform themselves year-over-year.

In Your Hands Now

While losing your online reputation can be easy, building it is not. It takes time to set up your business profiles, ensure your products or services are top-notch, builds your 5-star reviews, addresses negative reviews, and move up in the search rankings on platforms like Google. In the case of Lion’s Bike Shop, they already had a solid foundation to build from. You may not have that luxury, but you can’t get discouraged. Follow the steps outlined above, and you’ll get there eventually. Once you do, you can rest easy knowing that your business is in good standing in the eyes of the public.

Elizeth Debbie-Leon

Elizeth has extensive experience in the digital space and in driving positive experiences for clients. Her background touches large companies such as Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, and Starbucks, where she successfully led large teams. Now, she leads the efforts as NITRO PLUG's latest chief executive.

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