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How to Manage Your Online Reviews

How to Manage Your Online Reviews

Customer reviews on sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List have long posed major challenges to companies in industries like retail and hospitality. But now—especially with the advent of Google My Business—customer review sites reach every industry. They are a potential concern for every company.

How your company lands on review sites

If your organization is listed in public telephone directories, information about it may also be published on a variety of content aggregators as well as on consumer review sites. Often those sites make the decision for you. You can’t opt out.

That is why a review of your organization can suddenly appear at the top of a Google search—even if you’ve never created a profile on a review site. And that review will impact your brand even if it is by someone who is anonymous and may not have ever used your company.

[Related: 10 Social Media Tips: How to Elevate Your Personal Brand and Your Business]

What you need to know

There are over 50 consumer review sites on the Internet. Many work to maintain the integrity of their forums. But their primary interest is in driving reader engagement—not protecting your company’s brand. The more businesses they have listed, the more visitors they attract. The more clicks they receive, the more advertising revenue the site can charge. (Impartiality isn’t always guaranteed: The Federal Trade Commission has received numerous complaints from businesses that claim to have received unfair or fraudulent reviews after turning down a pitch to advertise.)

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your business is represented fairly on review sites. One is using a review management service.

What review management services do

Review management services work by monthly subscription. They provide clients with a dashboard where they can monitor over 50 online review sites in real time as well as with aboveboard methods to invite customers to review your company or services.

They help you build and manage your profiles on multiple sites, and assist you in eliciting reviews from your customers. Then they enable you to publish those new reviews, on platforms including your organization's website and social media pages, and amplify their prominence in searches.

This does not prevent negative reviews from appearing on review sites. Instead, it simply allows you to respond quickly and effectively while building a larger body of positive reviews—providing an effective counterbalance to reviews that are biased or anonymous (which may be posted by a competitor, detractor or—as noted above—as a way to extort advertising fees). Sometimes the new reviews you amplify will take precedence over others.

[Related: The Basics Of Personal Branding Online]

Helpful for SEO, too

Review management services also work to make your company’s website more visible to search engines. A key way of improving a website’s SEO (search engine optimization) is to increase the number of highly ranked sites that link to it. By allowing you to easily create profiles for your company across many review sites, review management companies also allow you to easily create many such inbound links.

If your business would benefit from taking more control over your brand, this is a service worth looking into. Google “online review management services” to see a broad range of companies. Our recent interview with the CEO of Birdeye, one Silicon Valley-based provider, provides an expert’s view into the industry.

Shannon M. Wilkinson is CEO of Reputation Communications, an online reputation management firm serving CEOs, industry leaders, VIPS and their organizations. She blogs at You(Online); is a contributor to Forbes, Seeking Alpha and The National Cybersecurity Institute Journal and tweets @reputationnews.


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