As a business owner, your biggest responsibility is to make sure that all operations run smoothly and you limit risks. Many business owners turn over their online reputation to other individuals or companies but it is important to understand the benefits of “owning your business” online. Many of the same practices you put in place to protect your reputation and company brand for a storefront should be repeated with your online presence.
No one knows your business better than you. No one cares about your business more than you do. Keeping your business protected online is your responsibility and can be done easily with a few key items in place.
Own Your Online Listings
When searching online, your business may have dozens of listings. Besides your own website, you may find a Google Maps listing, Yelp,com, TripAdvisor,com, Bing Places and other more specific business-type listings. Many businesses don’t even know these pages exists and as a result their company is not represented. Claiming and monitoring your local Google page and other business listings isn’t just an added bonus, by not doing it you could actually be turning away business.
An unclaimed page looks bad to potential customers, especially if it’s displayed next to a competitor’s claimed and complete page. If your listing is unclaimed, your information may not be correct. It might have a wrong or old phone number or address. You may run the risk of someone else claiming your page. Not only is it inconvenient to regain control of your page, it could potentially be harmful to your business.
Diversify Your Online Listings
Make sure your business is listed in several different places online. Once you have a solid presence with your website, branch out into social media and directory listings for your company. Listing your business in several different places online will help with search engine optimization, but it will also spread the word. You can build credibility by having your business listed on other credible sites. It gives a potential client the ability to do some research and see if what you say is really true, especially if reviews are included.
Keep Your Business in Mind When Hiring Outside Help
When using an outside company, make sure they keep your best interest in mind. Many can build your online presence for you and increase your rankings, but be sure to keep your business in mind. Don’t blindly give them access to private information like username and passwords. Be careful how much access they have to your website and online data. Some companies ask to place tracking code on every single page. This is not necessary. This tracking code can divert business to them, ringing their tracking phone in place of a direct line to you. This enhances their listing and inflates their statistics. They may be building their own business by tracking your customers online. Google can do a fine job of giving you this same information, it’s free and doesn’t require code on every page.
Be Careful What You Say Online
The Internet is a fantastic tool to communicate your brand and individual thoughts. Many desire that personal touch in business. We want to know the person behind the brand, but this doesn’t mean that you can say or do just about anything on the Internet. Someone is always paying attention, quick to be offended and reply. Take your time and think through what you post or promote online. Be sure it’s inline with your company values.
Be positive. Even in replying to negative comments, be sure to be gracious and thankful for the feedback. Avoid making announcements, slanderous statements, or engaging in any business that might be considered suspicious. Partnering with companies that end up being sued might also harm you in the fallout.
Take time to care about your customers and their needs. Give special offers and incentives. Keep your business in mind as you build relationships online. People appreciate honesty and authenticity while at the same time keeping it positive.
Nothing is better for business than a good reputation! Be sure to keep your listings close at hand. Stay on top of what an outside company is doing to help build your online presence. Keep your private information safe. List your business in several different ways online and “own” these listings. Pay attention and think through any postings or promotions you do online. All of this will help keep your business in the forefront of any potential customers and maintain a positive, helpful online reputation.