Some people might not realize that their business already exists on the Internet, even if they didn’t put it there themselves. If your business name is anywhere online, search engines have already created a local listing for you. So how do you tell the Internet that it’s your business and then update your online profile so that it promotes your business positively? Keep reading for the top three ways to improve your online reputation, and benefit from this free resource.
1. Claim your local listing.
Specifically, claim your listing on these top directories: Google, Yelp, and Bing. If you’re not sure if your business listing has already been created, type your business name in the search engine. More than likely, the listing will show up. After clicking on it, there will be a link that will say something similar to, “Is this verified?” Simply click the link, and it will ask you different questions until you get to a verification portion. The process might vary slightly based on which platform you’re using.
Soon afterward, the search engine will follow up with you. For example, Google might send you a postcard that could show up within a couple weeks at your business. Or you might receive a phone call verification later that week. It’s important to communicate to your staff about the process, what might occur, and why it’s important. You wouldn’t want your front office assistant to throw away the verification information and have you start the process over again.
Once you get through the tedious verification process, that’s when you can start your online management work. Some ideas would be to promote the page for any sort of review, prompt people to submit photos, and most importantly, update your business information so that it’s accurate across all search engines.
2. Ensure consistency in online directories.
It’s important to ensure that all of your information online is consistent. Most importantly, your “NAP”: Name, Address, and Phone. Are they all written out the same? Is “Avenue” spelled out or abbreviated? Do you refer to your business name in different ways? Is it “NW Hearing Services” or “Northwest Hearing Services”? If there’s any inconsistency in the search engines, they’re going to get confused and create these different local listings for the different places. Having all the information, including your business hours and website address, is crucial for the credibility of the local listings.
Another important factor in drawing customers to your local listing is the presence of photography. It is one of the most heavily weighted things when it comes to how search engines push your listing to the top of the results, or search engine optimization. Having your listing optimized with photos of your staff and office can give patients a sense of trust and comfort before they even visit your website or walk in your office doors.
3. Get reviews.
We’ve discussed two important points — consistency and factual information — but there’s another part of your online profile that’s experiential. Some would argue this is one of the better known, and more important, aspects of promoting your business online. It goes further than just increasing search rankings; it can influence whether someone else will come in or not based on a previous patient’s experience.
Consumers who are searching for your industry will find not only your company but also the reviews. They will read about patients’ experiences, and if those people left five stars or just one. For instance, Bing and Yelp are partnered. When someone is searching using a Bing search engine, the reviews are automatically pulled to the top of the screen. And on top of that, companies with the best reviews are typically higher than others in search rankings.
This brings up an issue everyone is concerned about: bad reviews. Warranted or not, a bad review can affect your rankings. and anyone can read their posting. If you get a negative review, it’s best to respond to the person. It shows that you truly care about your customers and you value the experience that they have. Engaging with your audience — talking with them about how you can earn their trust back by offering a coupon or something to make amends — shows them and the rest of your community that you are interested in improving based on their feedback.
It’s important that as a business you’re monitoring all reviews — good and bad — and responding to them. It enhances your credibility, the belief that you care about the customer experience, and that you’re always looking to improve. It’s a great opportunity to be able to interact with people who have already been into your office, and to do it in a place that’s visible to others who haven’t become patients yet.
Now that we’ve covered all three tips, the rule of thumb should be that if you can fill something out on any of these pages, you should. When you are 100% complete on claiming your local listing, completing factual information about your business, and monitoring your reviews, that is going to earn you higher rankings in search engines. Of course, there’s a lot of data aggregation that goes into search engine optimization, but this is the first step to move you toward getting your business seen online. You’re going to provide the best customer experience from that platform. It helps you to provide information about your company — and then it helps you to win them over and keep them as delighted customers, too.
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