Local Small Business - 7 Keys to a Positive Online Presence and ReputationThe majority of consumers consult online reviews before making a buying decision today. It started becoming common place on Ebay and Amazon.com several years ago. Today, failing to monitor and manage your online reputation is an epic fail. According to the most recent Bright Local Survey, the star rating is the #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business.

One of the challenges small business owners are facing is, how to get more happy customers to leave reviews. Anyone who has asked customers to leave an online review or provide feedback knows… it’s not easy. However, because reviews play such an influential part of the buying process, they cannot be ignored.

The answer is to create a systematic approach where customers are asked to provide feedback on a regular basis. If it’s done haphazardly, it won’t work.

7 Keys to Creating a Positive Online Presence and Online Reputation

1. Claim your identity on social media before someone else does.
You may not think it’s important to have a Facebook or Twitter account, but once you and your business get some traction, others with less scruples will be quick to grab your name and use it against you. Identity theft can be as devastating to a business as it is to a person.

Related: 5 Ways to Take Control Over Your Startup’s Public Image

2. Actively contribute to common business and personal profile sites.
Just the act of registering on these sites sets a positive reputation. Occasional engagement and visibility in forum discussions and industry activities establishes positive content to offset the random negative comment that every passionate entrepreneur is sure to generate.

3. Add new blog content to your site on a regular basis.
Blogging is an ideal way to express your positive values, show your expertise and establish yourself as an influencer. If done well, this will get you a wealth of positive comments, as well as provide real “Google juice” to push negative content out of view on any search engine results.

4. Monitor the web for negative comments and address them directly.
Any not-so-positive reviews or comments can be found with Google Alerts or a similar free tool, and should be answered quickly in a non-defensive manner, ideally pointing to other previous positive content. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring negative comments or reviews, hoping no one will notice.

5. Actively work to remove irrelevant and unwanted content.
It is always worth contacting a site owner to remove unflattering content, but you may not have much leverage. You can delete comments on your own site, or articles you have contributed. Expert sites, such as BrandYourself, have proprietary techniques to help remove bad content.

Related: 10 Straightforward Techniques That Can Boost Your Personal Credibility

6. Live the reputation you want to see online.
These days, everything you do or say, even in a moment of weakness or in private, ends up online. It’s impossible to live one life and project another, so remember your current or future business before posting that provocative picture on Facebook. The Internet sees the good, the bad and the ugly.

If you have slipped a couple of times in the past, it can be helpful to reach out to friends and supporters to attest online to your new-found focus on the business. They can provide links to additional positive or neutral content, which will help to displace and minimize the offending content.

In case you are not yet convinced that these efforts are worthwhile, note that online reputation damage now heads the list of top 10 business risks in Aon’s 2015 Global Risk Management Risk Ranking, from a survey of 1,400 risk-management professionals in 60 countries. They project an 80 percent chance that your company will lose value within five years due to this problem.

The good news is that a positive online reputation is the best lead-generation approach you don’t have to buy, if you are proactive and do it right. Don’t assume that it will happen by default. It pays to be street smart, stay out of the back alleys and be prepared for the road ahead. Your reputation follows you, and can be your salvation or the cause of your downfall.

via 6 Keys to a Positive Online Presence and Reputation

7. Claim your Local Business Pages at Leading Directory Sites. 
Incorrect or inconsistent business listings will hurt your rankings and your online reputation. Directory sites include the following:

  • Google Plus Local
  • Yahoo Local
  • Bing Local
  • Yelp
  • YP.com

The 3 most important factors in these listings are the Business Name, Address, and Phone Number. Consistency in those 3 areas will improve online visibility, and help buyers to find you online when they’re searching for products and/or services.

Are you aware of how visible you are online? If not, use our free tool www.LocalScoreReport.net to see how well you can be found online. It’s free, and only takes 60 seconds to get your score.

Can You Be Found Online

Let us know in the comments below if you have questions.