When was the last time you did a search for your company? If the first page of google’s results are scattered with 1-3 star reviews of your company on various social sites, you may be losing potential customers. Often companies won’t hesitate to spend money on their website’s visibility, but fail to see the importance of managing their online reputation. While ranking high for relevant searches is key to being considered for future business, having poor rankings will erase any benefit you get from SEO. Follow this guide to make sure your business isn’t missing out from a poor online reputation.

1. Review Notifications

Determine which directories or social sites are valuable to your industry. If you aren’t sure, try a few different related searches and see what social sites comes up often. Moz put together a great guide on top citations by industry.  Once you have a list of the most important review sites, start claiming your listings or signing your company up if there is no listing.  You may want to use a different email than a primary address since you will get a lot of solicitations, but make sure it is one that you periodically check (at least once a month).  This will alert you to any new reviews your business gets in a timely manner.  If you get notified of a bad review, you will be able to respond quickly, and you can thank someone for a nice review as well.  If you are able to figure out who left the bad review, you can try contacting them directly to see if you can solve their problem, in hopes they will remove the review.  If that does not work, you can respond publicly in a professional manner, urging them to contact your customer service to resolve the issue.  This will make the company look responsive and considerate to their customer’s needs.

2. Don’t Fake or Buy Reviews

While it may be tempting to just create fake social profiles and write glowing reviews of your company, it is illegal and can result in hefty fines by the FTC.  This can also include deceptive reviews as detailed in the FTC’s review guidelines.  Examples would include an endorsement from an individual that did not disclose that they received some sort of financial or promotional incentive in return for the review, or if the reviewer has a bias towards the company (think family or friends).  The one area that is excluded would be if someone wrote a review about a product or service that a friend or family member received, and they could provide honest feedback (ex. My cousin got his floors refinished by XYZ company and they look great!).  There are also services such as fiverr that offer paid reviews, however these are against the terms of service of any website and will result in having the review taken down, or worse – your account banned.

3. Make It Easy

While it may seem like nowadays any product or service you purchase will bombard you for reviews, reaching out to recent customers is still the most effective way to get new reviews or bury old bad reviews.  The key is to stand out in your request and make it easy for the client to provide the feedback you are requesting.  Sending a personal email thanking the customer for their purchase and politely requesting a review will result in a lot more reviews then an automated message or text.  You can ask repeat customers that you have a personal relationship with if they would mind letting others know about their experience with your company.  Finally, create a webpage on your site or have some links in an email signature that make it easy for the potential reviewer to find your company’s listing in order to provide the review.  Asking “can you review my company?” will result in an email testimonial – which is nice, but not helpful for your online presence, similar to testimonials posted on your own website.

Now that you know the steps to getting online reviews and improving your company’s online reputation, go get some 5 star ratings!