One of the most important parts of online reputation management is maintaining what are known as your local listings. Your local listings are the information you will find about your business on websites and applications designed to give consumers localized information about the area around them. Some of the most well known places where these listings show up are sites like Google, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Foursquare. Yelp and TripAdvisor have especially large communities of active users. There are, of course, many other sites providing similar services for consumers in every imaginable niche.
What these listings all have in common is that entries are created without your participation. Consumers create the listings and attached reviews on their own, or they are created by the service using easily found basic information. Your local listings are what customers and potential customers are most likely going to see first when they do any kind of research about you. A lot of the information contained in sites like these also gets carried over to other places, like location listings on GPS devices, Google or Apple maps and similar services.
This is one of the most common areas that companies forget about when building and managing their online presence. If managed correctly, your local listings can get you engaged with your customers like never before. If managed badly, or not at all, they can work against you and turn potential customers straight toward your competition.
How Do I Manage My Company’s Local Listings?
Claim Your Location
The first step is to find your listings and claim your location. All of these types of sites will have a link somewhere on each listing that says something like, “Is this you? Claim this business!” From there you will be able to begin the process of verifying ownership of the business. The process will differ a bit from site to site, but they will ask you to provide some type of proof that you own or are involved with the business.
Verify And Correct Data
Once you have been verified and given access to the location listing, the first thing you should do is go through the basic data that is published and correct anything that is incorrect, missing, or outdated. Incorrect data is doing nothing but leading your potential customers farther away from you. It’s essential to make sure this information is correct. Pay special attention to contact and location details.
Read And Respond To Reviews
In the end, reputation management boils down to customer service. Now that you have access to your listing, don’t be afraid to get in there and respond where you think it’s needed. Say thank you for great reviews. Apologize for problems that caused bad reviews, and offer to make up for the bad experience if you can. Let them know that you are there and paying attention to what they have to say. Most sites will let you respond publicly or privately. It has been proven that potential new customers browsing reviews are more likely to favor a business that has been claimed and is responding to customer comments.
How Do I Keep Up With All Of This?
This portion of managing your online reputation is probably not going to take up a lot of your time if your company is just starting out or still very young, but it is still a vitally important part of the startup process. If you get it right from the beginning, it can help boost your growth and put you in a position to exploit that most valuable of all forms of advertising, word of mouth.
Do It Yourself
You may be able to keep up with things at first by simply tracking listings and their status in a spreadsheet. Simply make a list of the sites and services that are the most relevant and important for you, then track progress as you go through the process of claiming listings and updating information.
Have It Done For You
As your company and customer base grow, it will become more difficult to keep up with different sites and services and all of the information flowing through each of them. At this point you’re not just looking to keep information updated and correct, but you’ll need to have an eye on the sites watching for customer comments that need attention. This is where is can start to get tricky, and sometimes hectic.
A good marketing firm can help with this task and make sure that you are kept aware of what is happening. The firm can handle administrative tasks like finding new listings, updating contact information and claiming listings on different sites. They’ll also keep a watchful eye on what is being said and notify you when something comes up that might need attention. This will help to filter out all the extra noise and allow you to concentrate on dealing directly with customers as needed.
Do you know what’s going on with your local listings? Contact us to see how we can help you create the ideal management strategy for your company!