Using Google Alerts to Keep Abreast of Your Current Online Reputation
Having a good website and creating connections for your business on social media are great ways of promoting your business online. Most of this kind of internet use is totally in your control and you use it to create an online profile that will encourage people to trust you with their business. There is another side to an online profile that is beyond the control of your marketing campaign and that you may not even be aware of. To find all of the sites that mention you and your business it is a good idea to Google yourself, the results might surprise you.
There are a number of websites where users are encouraged to contribute reviews and endorsements for businesses that they have dealt with. Without you even knowing it your customers have very likely been leaving their opinions of you and your business online and depending upon what they are saying it could be affecting your revenue. One place where these kinds of reviews can really damage your online reputation is on your company’s Google Places page. The fact is that only a small number of businesses even claim their free Google Places listing let alone spend time optimizing it and checking the reviews that it displays. Because the number of reviews carries more weight than whether they are good or bad Google Places could give your business a high SERP ranking and then your page could be filled with poor or mediocre reviews of your services.
The reason for this is in the kinds of people that review businesses generally. It is more common for a satisfied customer to be content with their purchase and often they will intend to bring their future business to you but it never occurs to them to give your business a plug on their favorite review site. Unhappy customers, on the other hand, are likely to actively seek out these review sites to register their discontent and so even though all successful businesses have a certain number of dissatisfied customers the ratio of good versus bad reviews can be skewed. The unfortunate result of this is that new customers that research your business will see these reviews as representative of your business without giving you the chance to show them the real picture. Because most business operators don’t search out these reviews they don’t even know that they could be losing business because of them. The solution begins by looking for all of the references to you that are generated in the SERPs and reading the reviews yourself.
Finding bad reviews isn’t the end of the world and there are many strategies for burying them by encouraging your satisfied clients to leave positive reviews and trading good reviews with other businesses. What is most important is to find a way to stay in touch with them when they do come up so that you can have a chance to respond to them. A practical way to find them as they come up is to set up a Google Alert for your business that will notify you when your business is mentioned on the internet. Google Alerts are simple to set up and require only that you leave an e-mail address where the service can send the notifications. As the crawlers usually go through the sorts of Web 2.0 sites that have reviews on them on a very regular basis most of the time you will be alerted to a review within a day or two of it going online. Google Alerts won’t make the bad reviews go away but they will let you know that they are there early enough so that they can be dealt with effectively.