Don’t Make a $300K Mistake

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The Internet is becoming more and more social – we go online to connect with friends, colleagues, businesses, and brands. The purchasing process is completely different in today’s socially driven world. Good businesses are in front of their customers during every step of the purchasing cycle. Great businesses work to fill the search engines with positive mentions of their brand during every step of the purchasing cycle.

Reputation management when integrated with an online visibility strategy puts the right information in front of the right audience to keep your brand in the forefront of mind.

What is the Right Information?

Searchers want to hear real peoples’ experiences with everything from books to local eateries. Online retailers know this, and many now list customer reviews at the bottom of every product page. Internet users trust online customer reviews; a 2012 survey found that 72% of participants trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This same survey found that positive reviews made people more likely to use a business.

Reputation management is not about creating fake reviews! In fact, a plastic surgeon in New York was fined $300,000 for instructing his staff to post fake patient reviews, a practice referred to as “astroturfing”.

Astroturfing, like the Brady Bunch lawn, is fake content that tries to be like the real thing. Have you ever rolled on astroturf? It’s very uncomfortable, and nothing at all like real grass. Fake reviews look like tiles of fake plastic grass among lush, organic greens.

As with many online marketing initiatives, your business will benefit more from a long term strategy that encourages real, live, satisfied customers to post reviews. Reputation management strategies address the importance of reviews by creating incentives for users to take the time to write positively about their experience.

The second goal of an online reputation management strategy is to maximize the visibility of all positive mentions of a brand. If you have 100 reviews on a website that has zero search engine visibility, then you have a problem. Would you speak to an empty room? In an ideal world your brand would occupy at least 4 spots on page one of Google – Corporate Website, Google Places Listing, Directory Listing, positive customer review.

An added benefit of taking up space in the SERP, you push your competition further down the page. Higher ranking on Google means more traffic and more impressions.

What do you do if a negative review pops up in the coveted top positions? Negative reviews happen. First, you surround a negative review with positive brand messages. Second, you respond to the review publicly. Finally, you learn from the review. Each negative or sub-par review is an opportunity to make changes to the way you do business. Be open to criticism. Respond tactfully not emotionally.

Online reputation management is most effective when done on a consistent basis as part of a larger online visibility initiative. If a negative review does come up one month when you already have an SEO strategy in place, it is much easier to push the negative review out with branded content.

Good reputation management monitoring is proactive. Start caring now – don’t wait for the negative comments to overwhelm the search results.

Reputation is of the utmost importance to the healthcare industry. More and more people go online to find health related information everyday. Future and current patients need to feel comfortable putting their health in your hands.

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