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Is Your Reputation on the Line?

Written on August 21, 2012 by Posted in Tip of the week

Big Changes in Google’s Algorithm May Have Changed Your Reviews!

In the wake of recent Google algorithmic updates, businesses across the country find themselves in a state of dismay. Overnight, hundreds of thousands of consumer reviews vanished from Google business listings with little to no explanation of the how or why. In industries like automotive and restaurant, where reputation can be the core of the business, this has been devastating. Representatives from these organizations have kicked, screamed, complained, and sought answers, while Google remains effectively mute on the subject. Companies may get some, all, or none of their reviews back; there’s no way to know. What is known is that consumers continue to use Google as a resource when shopping, and the loss of reviews is sure to have an immediate, adverse impact on companies that rely on their online reputation to drive business.

If you’re one of the businesses affected, you’re of course going to want to take action. Here’s an article with advice for the automotive industry, which might be applied to any industry or business feeling the sting of a damaged online reputation. But more important than fighting Google is moving forward to rebuild what you’ve lost. Or, if you’ve not given your online reputation the attention it deserves, now is the time to start. Reach out to your customers and ask for their help. The worst they can say is no, and there are sure to be more than a few who say yes.

Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  1. If you’re going to ask a customer to write a review, do not specify that it be positive. Simply ask that the customer give an honest account of what it’s been like for them to do business with you.
  2. Do not help the customer write the review.
  3. Do not offer any sort of compensation in exchange for a review.
  4. Do not ask the customer to copy and paste the review on several sites; stick to one site per original review.
  5. Ask that the customer write the review from their home, not from a computer at your business. Some people will say it’s okay to use an iPad on 3G or 4G, but I’d advise against it.
  6. If you’re asking for Google reviews, the customer must have an active Google account for it to appear/remain in your listing. Do not ask them to create an account for the sole purpose of writing your review. Send your customers without Google accounts to one of the many other review sites out there.

Building (or rebuilding) an online reputation is a slow process that takes commitment and dedication from everyone within an organization. Make sure that everyone interacting with customers is aware of the objective, understands why it’s important, is wholly informed on best practices, and is comfortable speaking to your customers on the topic. You’ll likely find that people are happy to write a few kind words in return for nothing more than an excellent experience doing business with you.