Each year more and more small businesses open up and down the country, with many people even ditching the traditional 9-5 to become their own boss. This can be fantastic for the consumer, with competition often driving down prices, and in many cases forcing businesses to increase their customer service in order to retain customers
Unfortunately however, this can be problematic for your small business, requiring you to spend more time monitoring the competition, and less time focusing on other aspects of your business.
Monitor your online presence frequently
Traditionally, your online presence took the form of a website, with a number of paid directories that you managed. As most of these directories were paid for, there was some resilience against negative reviews, with help usually available to remove the review if it appeared to be from a competitor or simply just a troll. Now however, it’s uncommon to find a website that isn’t linked to Google My Business, which has built in reviews.
Launched in mid 2014, Google My Business is a fantastic tool that lets people with little marketing, design or development experience get a nice-looking local listing completely free and with little effort. The listing is easy to manage, and can be used to easily display your business hours, address and contact details, along with a number of images.
Google also offers you some fantastic and insightful data, such as the amount of people that used your listing to ring; request directions; or view pictures of your business.
Unfortunately, the one thing that you can not control, is reviews. Great for consumers, reviews give people the opportunity to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, Google offers little to no help to businesses if you are the victim of a troll, or or perhaps a negative review from suspected competitor.
With reviews displaying so prominently on Google my Business, and playing such a large part in local search results, this is something you cannot afford to get wrong.
Managing your negative reviews
This is increasingly common, and can have serious consequences to small businesses who rely on their good reputations. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do in order to either remove the review, or discredit the reviewer.
1. The first thing to do if you receive a slanderous review, is to flag it. You can flag a review for a number of things such as Hateful content, advertising, spam, and conflict of interest. This is quick and easy to do, but may not always prove to be the best bet, with Google having quite strict policies on removing the reviews unless it’s absolutely clear the review violates their policies.
2. The second option is simply to reply. Replying to a review can often be the best method to remove a negative review, if done properly. This might sound daunting at first, but if you present yourself to prospective customers in a way that informs them you have fantastic customer service skills; will take the time to listen to their complaints; and have an active approach to your marketing, your customers will see you in a higher light than previously. Doing this properly can often force the the reviewer to remove their negative review.
Google my business is clearly a powerful tool, and if managed properly, can be the ultimate tool for local search. Just be sure to manage your listing with your customers in mind, taking a customer first approach and encouraging your customers to review you can have a fantastic impact on your online presence.