Thanks to Rachael King for asking me to share my advice on small business reputation management for her article in BusinessWeek. Here’s an extract:
“One of the most important steps is to do an audit of what people are saying about your business,” says Andy Beal, a reputation management consultant at Marketing Pilgrim in Raleigh, N.C. He suggests doing a monthly Google search to see what shows up in the top 20 results, which might call up a customer’s comment or review on sites such as Yelp, CitySearch, or TripAdvisor. You might be dismayed to see unflattering results high in your Google search. “Google is ambivalent to the tone of the resultsit doesn’t care if it’s positive or negative, only if it’s relevant,” Beal says.
If you do see a negative comment, it’s best to respond as soon as you can, within the first 24-48 hours if possible. Use a nondefensive tone and ask for more information, offer to help resolve the problem, or offer your perspective or an apology if warranted. Then, to push those negative results further down in a search, create some new content.