For businesses, online reputation management is more important than ever. There are a host of factors that can affect a business’s reputation in an instant, all due to the internet and how accessible information has become.
This makes it important to not only be aware of these factors, but to proactively manage them.
Your business’s online reputation ultimately boils down to one thing: what customers think of your business – its legitimacy, trustworthiness, professionalism, and how it deals with its customers.
This guide looks at the five main factors that can affect a business’s online reputation. No matter whether your business operates online or offline, the following points are essential to know.
1. Customer Reviews
Online customer reviews, which are real-life testimonials of a customer’s experience with a business, can make or break a business’s reputation. Simply put, positive reviews inspire trust while negative reviews will send customers in the opposite direction.
It doesn’t matter where the reviews are posted, as all reviews can indicate the quality of a business’s services or products.
Even an opinion that is shared online, whether it’s a Tweet, forum post, or social media comment, can boost or harm a business’s online reputation!
Receiving online reviews from your customers is often out of your control. But when it comes to your reputation, getting more positive reviews should be the incentive to provide the best possible customer service you can.
As for fake reviews—such as bought reviews—these can be more damaging to your business’s online reputation than negative customer reviews.
Avoid creating or buying fake reviews at all costs, since savvy customers will spot fake reviews from a mile away and steer clear of your business altogether.
2. Website Design
A business’s website is essentially its online HQ, serving to represent that business and what it offers. Factors include the design, functionality, and message – all of which need to engage visitors.
Have you ever visited a business website that was poorly designed, slow to load, and hard to navigate? There’s a good chance that you left to look elsewhere. Needless to say, this isn’t good for a business’s online reputation.
Bad website design can be a sign that a business isn’t professional, successful, or simply doesn’t care about how it’s perceived by customers.
Due to this, website design should be well thought out and (ideally) designed in collaboration with professionals, or at least with someone who has an eye for good design.
As one of the main factors reflecting your business’s online reputation, your website should be welcoming and informative as well as easy to navigate, fast to load, and responsive across all devices.
3. Social Media Presence
This is an important point: a good online reputation is not measured by how large a business’s social media following is, but how that business engages with its customers.
We don’t have to tell you how popular social media is, so these free platforms shouldn’t be ignored as tools for growing your business’s online reputation.
In addition to being “secondary websites”, social media platforms are outlets to get creative.
Media posts, competitions, campaigns – all of these can create a buzz around a brand to engage customers and improve reach, and therefore build a business’s reputation.
On the other end, businesses that are on social media but do not post consistently can come across as lazy or apathetic.
“Abandoned” social media pages with posts and customer reviews that are years old can even generate doubt as to whether a business is still in operation.
4. Review Responses
Customer reviews are arguably the most important factor for legitimizing a business’s reputation. What’s just as important, however, is how a business responds to its customers’ reviews.
56% of customers say a company’s response to a review changed their perspective on the business. And the tone and message your responses convey can either build rapport or be a warning sign for bad customer service.
Needless to say, review responses should be professional and timely, and never defensive or dismissive where negative feedback is concerned.
Many businesses do not respond to customer reviews – or only choose to respond to negative reviews.
But this is another factor for why review responses can affect your business’s reputation; responding to all reviews shows that your business truly cares for customers and their opinions – no matter whether good or bad.
5. Star Rating
Last but not least, star rating. Star ratings are everywhere: on Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Trustpilot – they’re simply hard to avoid, and serve as a universally understood rating for whether or not a business delivers on its promises.
If you think about it, there’s no clearer indication of a business’s online reputation than the star ratings it has earned on review sites.
After all, a business’s star rating is generated by the customer reviews it has received, and customer opinions are hard to refute.
A low star rating typically indicates a poor online reputation – it’s as simple as that.
Despite that, it’s worth mentioning here that all is not lost if your business has a low star rating. Star ratings are not permanent, and can always be improved by getting more positive reviews.
The Conclusion? Customer Reviews Build Online Reputations
You may have caught on that three of the five main factors listed above involve customer reviews. This isn’t a coincidence as, simply put, business reputations in this day and age are powered by online reviews.
Online reviews are the new word of mouth – essentially free digital marketing. But like all the above factors, reviews need managing – especially if you want to grow the best possible online reputation for your business.
How do you manage the customer reviews you receive online? Aside from replying to your reviews, your business needs to leverage positive reviews by using a review generating service like ReputationStacker.
ReputationStacker is the hands-off tool you need to get more reviews across multiple review sites.
If you’ve been hunting for the quickest, most effective way to organically build your business’s online reputation, this is it.
And if you’re unsure, take a look at what other businesses are saying about ReputationStacker and start your 14-day free trial.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.