“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear” – This slice of Socrates’ wisdom could be useful when tackling Google…
People have been doing business since the first cities were set up in Mesopotamia, and probably a long time before that, too. But one thing has never changed – reputation has always been important to the success of a company.
However, this has never been more true than today, and since it’s been revealed that Google now takes reputation into account when ranking websites in their search engines.
Unhappy customers = unhappy search engines. Google want businesses in their listings to build up a reputation as a refutable, helpful brand (with great hair and a passion for tea cakes, and other winning attributes – probably). A website with a good reputation will be more likely to be visible on software such as Google maps, which can increase awareness ten-fold.
Over the years, many businesses have sought to ‘trick’ the search engines into placing them higher in the rankings. A pile of bad reviews could lead to an abundance of inbound links and brand publicity, which Google took as popularity and hoiked them up the list. This led to Google’s new regard for the sentiment of reviews; your feedback has to be positive to get you in Google’s good favour.
But what information do they analyse to asses your reputation?
- Reviews, reviews, reviews.
You may or may not have heard of Google Reviews, which is Google’s very own software to gather data on the businesses of the web. Your search engine ranking will be based on Google’s own primary data, as well as on reviews found on third party resources such as Yelp and Amazon.
The bigger your company, the bigger the pile of reviews in Google’s inbox should be. Google expects larger stores or sites to have a larger customer base and hence have more reviewers at their disposal.
However, the guys at Google aren’t all that bad, and they understand that the odd 1-star review will rear its ugly head in the sea of data they should be able to access about your business. What you should be focused on is making sure these low scorers are drowned in the ocean of your positive responses.
- Wikipedia, forums and blogs.
The presence of your brand name on Wikipedia, in industry forums and in the bloggersphere can also contribute to that dazzling reputation that can send you flying up the search engine listings; if you’re big news, Google will know about it.
- News articles
It’s been suggested that Google are now scanning news articles for stories about your company. You can use this to your advantage by joining forces with journalists using sites such as Help a Reporter. Providing commentary on news stories and debates can help your reputation no end.
But you can’t make a silk purse from a sows ear
Google’s recent release of the hummingbird algorithm highlights how they’re moving into the realms of trying to get the search engines to understand human communication. They aim to understand conversational searches through natural language processing. The ability of the search engines to recognise customer sentiment through their written searching and online commenting will soon make their analysis of online reputation even more accurate.
So it’s time to work on that all important online reputation. Here’s are a few tips for getting the basics right…
- The customer is always right…
We’ve all heard this age old saying. At times, the customers you’ll be dealing with will make you want to tear your hair out and smash your phone/computer/the nearest object to pieces. During these times it’s important to remember that these people and how they are dealt with will directly affect your business’ Google rankings. Remain calm, resourceful and approachable; it’ll all be worth it in the end!
- Stick to your word
The above quote from Socrates comes in once again here (although he really did make it tough to figure out what he was on about). “Endeavour to be what you desire to appear”, in laymans terms, do what you say you’ll do. Think about a time that someone said they’d do something for you, and they never followed through. Annoying, right? You’d probably not go to them as a reliable source again. However, when you think of that helpful chap who said he’d deliver your shopping at 6.30, and arrived on the dot? That’s the guy you’ll be going to as your reliable source. Be that guy.
- First impressions matter
You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, so make it count. How you’re perceived by both customers and colleagues, both as an individual and as a brand, is important to your reputation. Like it or not, people love to pass judgement, so leave no room for error. Dress for your environment and make sure you’ve got the right mix of confidence and likeability – it’s a sure-fire recipe for a glowing rep.
Be approachable. Conversation is the name of the game in biz nowadays; social media channels allow brands to connect with their audience like never before. Manage your brand ‘personality’ through a strong social media presence, and be sure to respond to any issues that are raised through these channels – being accessible really personalises your brand. Happy customers = happy reviewers!
- Be kind, it’s free
Perhaps the most important of these tips for reputational prowess is to simply be kind.Create an atmosphere within your brand that makes your colleagues, employees and customers happy to be around. Give people a smile, a handshake, a well-wish… Be likeable and you’ve won half the battle!
Getting your business online is a great step towards the glowing reputation that gets you in the good books at Google. Check out our website builder here.