You may have the best message in the world, but if no one hears it, how would they know? You may be the best at what you do, or make the best products, or serve a need in the industry that has the potential to disrupt markets and improve lives. But if the only way to find your company is to search for something similar and then scroll to page 46 of content, how would anyone know?
Word-of-mouth generates business, but online rankings are a form of public word-of-mouth: use it well and you will be near the top, with new clients spreading the word as well, and your brand branching out across the cyberverse. You just also want to be in control of that message.
So online rankings do still matter, and they should be part of your overall reputation management plan. Here is what you need to know to help your business succeed.
Broadcast Your Message
We are well beyond the days of the Yellow Pages getting delivered to your doorstep as there are so many ways for customers to find you and find out about you now. If you are old enough to remember the Yellow Pages, you may recall that many companies started with the letter “A” or even several “A’s.” They were playing the game: companies were listed alphabetically.
Online rankings today are like starting with the letter A: you want to be near the top to get noticed. Fortunately, most of the ways to broadcast what you have to offer have little cost involved, they just require coordinated branding and management.
- Facebook messages can be “pushed” at little cost to get more notice. Instagram also now allows you to control how you advertise, in addition to reaching a potentially younger demographic.
- Twitter messages can send the right message out like a virus.
- LinkedIn or Google+ tailor to businesses and can be used to your advantage.
- Snapchat and Tumblr, even Reddit threads, may help you target markets you might not otherwise reach.
If you familiarize yourself with these sites, you can utilize these online resources as effective reputation management tools.
Nearly everything is reviewable now. Sites like Yelp, Facebook’s “stars” feature, Amazon, Citysearch, Consumer Reports, Dex Knows, and many more (depending upon your business), provide a place for customers to rate your business or services.
Online review management is crucial to success and growth with these sites. You request and encourage (and possibly even incentivize) your existing customer base to write reviews, but you also proactively handle any lackluster or negative reviews. Outright false reviews can be removed and negative reviews can be responded to. Make an understanding of online reviews part of your ranking strategy.
Back to the point about online rankings and the ability to find you online. Google reputation management plays an important part in business success for nearly every industry in this day and age. What don’t you google (as a verb)!?
Your social media management strategy will help improve your Google rankings when played correctly. You also need to consider writing articles or blogs, to make your own site a reputable resource in your industry. The right keywords and phrases will enhance your ratings, but you will also establish yourself as an expert or knowledge resource for your clients (and potential clients).
And speaking of becoming an expert, earning media coverage will also help you appear near the top of search result lists. Becoming an expert commentator on subject-appropriate media topics or releasing your own press releases both can help improve media coverage. If you do these things, you move to the A+ section of online rankings.