Need to Get Your Online Reputation Started? Look No Further
In today's digital age, a small business's online reputation can make or break its success. Consumers increasingly turn to the internet to discover new businesses and make informed decisions about where to spend their hard-earned money. Building a positive online reputation is not only essential but also achievable for small businesses. In this guide, we'll take you through the steps to get your online reputation started and flourishing.
Step 1: Create a Business Brand Identity
Before you can start shaping your online reputation, you need a solid brand identity. Your brand is your business's personality, and it should reflect who you are and what you stand for. Here are some key elements to consider:
Business Name and Logo: Choose a memorable and unique name for your business, and design a professional logo that represents your brand.
Mission and Values: Clearly define your mission statement and core values. This helps customers understand your business's purpose and what you believe in.
Target Audience: Identify your ideal customers. Understanding their needs and preferences will guide your branding efforts.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Determine what sets you apart from competitors. Your USP is a key part of your brand identity.
Visual Style: Develop a consistent visual style for your brand, including color schemes, fonts, and imagery.
Once you've established your brand identity, you can use it as a foundation for all your online activities.
Step 2: Create a Website
Your website is everything. It's online storefront, your portfolio, your sales pitch, and your business card. It should reflect your company's mission and your branding. This is because it's often the first interaction potential customers have with your business. Here's how to create an effective website:
Domain Name: Choose a domain name that matches your business name or is closely related to it. Keep it short, memorable, and easy to spell.
Professional Design: Invest in a professionally designed website that reflects your brand's visual style. Ensure it's mobile-friendly for users on smartphones and tablets.
Clear Navigation: Make it easy for visitors to find information. Use clear navigation menus and organize content logically.
High-Quality Content: Create informative and engaging content that showcases your products or services. Use images and videos to enhance your message.
Contact Information: Display your contact details prominently, including a phone number and email address. Make it easy for customers to get in touch.
Testimonials and Reviews: Showcase positive testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers. Social proof goes a long way in building trust.
Step 3: Create a Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile is a crucial component of your online reputation. It appears in Google Search and Maps, making it one of the first things potential customers see when searching for your business. Here's how to set it up:
Claim Your Business: Visit Google My Business and claim your business. Verify your ownership through Google's provided options.
Complete Your Profile: Fill out all the information, including your business name, address, phone number, website URL, hours of operation, and a concise business description.
SUBNOTE: Keep in mind that whatever address you put here will generate an image of your business' location based on Google Street View. If you work from home and you use your home address an image of your house will be online. If you want to avoid this we recommend you rent a virtual office space (even if its short term) until the profile is established.
Add Photos: Upload high-quality images of your business, products, and services. Visual content attracts more attention.
Manage and Respond to Reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google profile. Respond promptly to all reviews, both positive and negative, with professionalism and courtesy.
Subtopic: Avoid the Better Business Bureau and Yelp
While a Google Business Profile is essential for establishing your online presence, it's worth noting that platforms like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Yelp can be challenging for small businesses. These platforms are notably anti business and pro negative reviews prominently. We recommend not opening a BBB or Yelp page until they create a listing for you and you receive a negative review on the page.
For many small businesses, the return on investment from BBB and Yelp may not justify the cost and effort involved. Instead, focus on Google Business Profile and other platforms where your target audience is more likely to engage with your brand.
Step 4: Create One or Two Social Media Pages
Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with your audience and managing your online reputation. Start with one or two platforms that align with your target audience. Here's how to make the most of your social media presence:
Choose the Right Platforms: There are many different social platforms out there. The most common ones are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (X), TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn, but there may be other opportunities depending on your business on websites such as Pinterest, Etsy, Tumblr, and Reddit depending on your business type and audience.
Consistent Branding: Use your brand identity to create a consistent look and feel across your social media profiles.
Engaging Content: Share valuable and engaging content, including articles, videos, images, and customer success stories.
Interact with Followers: Respond to comments and messages promptly. Engaging with your audience shows that you care about their opinions.
Posting Schedule: Maintain a regular posting schedule to keep your audience engaged. Use scheduling tools to plan ahead and research hashtags and social trends.
Hire a Professional (OPTIONAL): If your business can budget it and you don't have the time or expertise to maintain proper social media pages we recommend finding a social media management expert to handle this workload. Social media is huge and studies show that more and more people prefer to contact businesses through social media then via their phones or email.
Step 5: Organically Build an Audience and Request Testimonials and Reviews
Your online reputation is influenced by what others say about your business. Building a positive reputation starts with providing excellent products or services and encouraging satisfied customers to share their experiences. Here's how to do it:
Excellent Customer Service: Prioritize excellent customer service in all interactions. Happy customers are more likely to leave positive reviews.
Request Testimonials: Ask satisfied customers for testimonials that you can display on your website and social media.
Encourage Reviews: On your website, social media, and in-person, politely ask customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, Yelp (If you have it SEE ABOVE) or industry-specific review sites.
Engage with Reviews: Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, professionally and with gratitude. Address any concerns or issues raised in negative reviews.
Monitor Your Online Reputation: Keep an eye on what people are saying about your business. If its not positive feedback, consider the final step.
Hire a Professional Reputation Manager (Optional): If your business is still struggling with its online reputation consider hiring a Reputation Management firm such as the Reputation MD to help you create, manage, or nurture your businesses reputation.
Building a positive online reputation takes time and effort, but it's worth it. A strong reputation can boost your credibility, improve search engine rankings, and attract more customers to your business. By following these steps and consistently managing your online presence, you can forge a reputation that will set your business up for success in the digital age.