The Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management for Local Businesses

Online reputation management (ORM) is absolutely vital for local businesses today.

In an increasingly digital world, most customers now turn to online reviews, social media, and search engines to evaluate local businesses before engaging with them.

Studies show that over 80 percent of consumers read online reviews before making purchases, so your online reputation has a huge impact on profitability.

Your online reputation is determined by things like reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp; how you interact on social media; the information in your listings on directories; what people say about you online; and content on your own website. Monitoring and managing your online reputation as a local business is crucial for attracting new customers, establishing credibility, presenting a positive brand image, and building trust and loyalty.

With the right online reputation management strategies, local businesses can take control of how they are perceived online, get more 5-star reviews, respond appropriately to feedback and complaints, create a consistent and professional brand identity, and ultimately get more customers. This guide will provide actionable tips and best practices for how any local business can monitor, build, and manage their reputation online.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

Actively monitoring your online reputation is crucial for identifying any potential issues or negative mentions early on. Here are some of the main ways local businesses should keep tabs on their brand image:

  • Set up Google alerts, social media listening, and review site monitoring to be notified of new online reviews, social media posts, and other web content mentioning your business. Many online reputation management (ORM) tools like Brand24 and Mention provide robust monitoring capabilities.
  • Check major review sites like Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp regularly to see what customers are saying. Look for any concerning reviews that may require a response.
  • Keep an eye on social media conversations through hashtag tracking and listening. Set up notifications for when your business name or relevant keywords are mentioned.
  • Use comprehensive ORM software and tools like Reputology and ReviewPush for monitoring across the web, social networks, directories, forums, and more. Automated monitoring saves time while still providing alerts for anything that requires attention.

Consistent monitoring enables you to address issues in a timely manner before they escalate. It also allows you to spot positive feedback and reviews that you can amplify as part of reputation management.

Get More Positive Reviews

One of the most effective ways to get more positive reviews is to directly ask satisfied customers to leave feedback. You can send a personalized email after a positive customer interaction or add a request to your receipts and marketing materials. According to Google, customers are 70% more likely to leave a review when asked by a business owner. Some best practices for email outreach include:

  • Send the request within a few days of the interaction so it’s fresh in the customer’s mind.
  • Make it personal by addressing the customer directly and referring to details of their experience.
  • Include links directly to your review profiles on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. to make it easy for them.
  • Follow up with customers who don’t initially leave a review.

It’s also important to make your review links visible across platforms like your website, email signatures, social media bios, receipts, etc. so customers can easily find them. Consider offering small incentives like discounts or free products to encourage reviews. Finally, optimize the review process by keeping forms short, not requiring logins, and allowing photos/attachments.

Respond to Negative Reviews

When your business receives negative feedback online, it’s important not to ignore or delete the comments. Instead, respond in a professional manner and try to offer solutions. Here are some tips for responding effectively:

  • First, thank the customer for taking the time to leave feedback. You can acknowledge their feelings and apologize for their poor experience. However, avoid being overly defensive. For example: “Thank you for your review. I’m sorry we didn’t meet your expectations this time…”
  • Next, address any specific concerns mentioned in the review. If possible, provide context or an explanation, but don’t make excuses. Take accountability and show you want to make it right. You may want to investigate the incident further before responding.
  • Then, offer solutions like refunds, discounts, or free services to rectify the situation if appropriate. You can also invite the customer to contact you directly to discuss matters in more detail.
  • Finally, show appreciation for the feedback and reaffirm your commitment to delivering high-quality products/services. Let the customer know you value their business.

Responding calmly and constructively demonstrates your professionalism and care for customers. It also shows future customers how your business proactively handles issues. With the right response, you can turn even a negative review into a positive reflection on your business.

Build Your Online Presence

Having a strong online presence is critical for local businesses to reach customers in today’s digital world. Here are some of the best ways to build your brand’s presence online:

  • Optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing with complete information, good photos, and engaging posts. GMB helps bring you to the top of local searches and stand out on Google Search and Maps.
  • Be active on social media channels where your customers are, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Post regularly, engage with followers, advertise, and make it easy for people to find and contact you.
  • Publish helpful, relevant content on your website’s blog that demonstrates your expertise and authority. Quality content can improve SEO and draw more organic traffic.
  • Try to get mentioned or featured on relevant third-party sites like local business blogs and directories. This adds credibility and helps drive referrals to your own online content.
  • Encourage happy customers to post about your business on their own social media channels. User-generated content and word-of-mouth can greatly boost your online visibility.

Online Reputation Management Best Practices

Managing your online reputation effectively requires implementing best practices that build credibility and trust with customers. Here are some of the most important strategies to follow:

  • Be transparent and honest in all of your online interactions and communications. Admit mistakes quickly and show customers how you are resolving issues. Being upfront will demonstrate your integrity.
  • Provide excellent customer service across channels, whether it’s on your website, social media, or review sites. Going above and beyond expectations will lead to positive word-of-mouth.
  • Resolve customer complaints and issues as rapidly as possible. The quicker you can turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one, the less chance there is of them leaving negative feedback.
  • Proactively highlight positive stories, customer success cases, and examples of great service through your website, social media, and advertisements. Promote your accomplishments.
  • Consistently publish high-quality, useful content like blog posts and videos to provide value to prospects and customers. This content marketing strategy can improve your search rankings as well as your reputation.

Tools and Services

There are many online reputation management (ORM) software tools and services available to help local businesses monitor, manage, and improve their online reputation.

Top ORM platforms include:

  • ReputationStacker—We help local businesses generate more traffic via online reviews.
  • Birdeye—Offers review collection, review monitoring, social listening, surveys, and performance alerts.
  • Podium—Focuses on review management, customer messaging, and actionable insights.
  • Yext—Provides reputation monitoring across top sites, review response templates, and reporting.
  • Sprout Social—Features social media monitoring, reporting, and engagement tools.
  • Trustpilot—Specializes in review collection, display, and analytics.

These services allow businesses to centralize their ORM efforts for efficient monitoring and response. Most offer free trial periods so businesses can evaluate them. When choosing an ORM platform, consider your budget, features needed, and ease of use.

For Restaurants

Restaurants rely heavily on positive online reviews and social media visibility to attract new customers. Here are some reputation management tips tailored for the restaurant industry:

  • Monitor review sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook to respond quickly to any negative feedback. Use tools like ReputationStacker to streamline monitoring and responding across sites.
  • Incentivize happy customers to leave reviews by offering discounts, loyalty points, or free menu items. Make it easy by emailing survey links or using table tents with QR review codes.
  • Encourage positive word-of-mouth by running advocacy campaigns asking customers to post photos or shoutouts on social media.
  • Fix issues that commonly trigger negative reviews, like slow service, inaccurate menu descriptions, or high noise levels. Identify these patterns in your reviews.
  • Respond professionally to negative reviews and try turning critics into advocates. Offer to make things right for dissatisfied customers.
  • Highlight positive press and community initiatives on your website to shape your online narrative.
  • Publish unique content like chef interviews and behind-the-scenes photos to give customers an insider view.

For Retail

Retail stores rely heavily on positive word of mouth and customer reviews to drive business. Here are some reputation management tips tailored for retail businesses:

  • Monitor review sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook and respond promptly to customer feedback. Set up alerts to be notified when your business is mentioned online. Use tools like ReputationStacker to monitor reviews.
  • Incentivize customers to leave reviews after purchases by offering discounts on future purchases. Make it easy for them by sending review links via email and text.
  • Display positive reviews prominently on your website and on printed marketing materials. Also, showcase them on social media.
  • Train employees to provide excellent customer service. Empower them to immediately resolve customer complaints.
  • Partner with local influencers and bloggers to get positive mentions. Send them free products to review.
  • Use promotions, giveaways, and events to get customers engaging with your brand on social media.
  • Optimize online listings on directories like Google My Business. Include plenty of photos, service options, and other helpful info for customers.

Having strong reputation management for retail stores positively impacts word-of-mouth marketing, local SEO, and sales. Monitor closely and respond quickly to build lasting trust.

The Truth About Online Reputation Management for Local Businesses

Online reputation management is crucial for any local business. As studies have shown, over 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a local business, so your online reputation has a direct impact on your bottom line. With proper monitoring and management, you can cultivate a strong, positive reputation that attracts new customers and inspires loyalty and trust.

Having an effective online reputation management strategy helps small businesses stand out from the competition. By proactively seeking positive reviews, thoughtfully responding to negative feedback, and consistently publishing helpful, high-quality content, you can showcase your brand in the best possible light. This builds credibility and establishes your business as an authoritative industry leader.

For local business owners who need help improving their online reputation, there are many affordable tools and services available. Reputable agencies can assist with monitoring reviews, increasing positive mentions, and implementing best practices. There are also online reputation management software platforms that provide helpful analytics and automation. Don’t hesitate to seek outside assistance if you need support taking your online reputation to the next level.


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.


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