The value of online customer reviews is surging, both to sites that host review tools, and to consumers who are increasingly likely to start their search for goods and services on the internet. This was underlined recently by a high-profile flap with Yelp, which culminated in all third-party reviews being pulled from Google Places.
Every business understands the value of word-of-mouth advertising. And as consumers, who are concerned about finding an honest mechanic, trustworthy veterinarian or dentist, or good restaurants or movies, online reviews help us make informed decisions about where to place our trust and spend our money.
Social media in general is a powerful force – for good or bad – for businesses large and small. And at the local level, customer reviews can be devastating for small businesses that aren’t paying attention.
When clients approach us about reputation management, they are generally livid, confused and/or panicked. An industry has grown up around online reputation management (ORM), with the same range of integrity – legitimate to black hat – that describes the search engine optimization (SEO) field. In this case, though, clients are generally in a crisis, and, therefore desperate and vulnerable to shady schemes.
This multipart series focuses on a white-hat reputation management strategy for small businesses, aimed at avoiding bad-review ambush up-front, and establishing an ongoing, proactive strategy to make online review sites a positive, rather than a negative.