The matter of Googling yourself is something that many people do for fun. Some employers will Google potential employees if they want to really do their homework on them and some will even go to Facebook and search through their wall to check for any unwanted scandal.
Exactly the same is true for people looking to use the services of local businesses.
Whether consumers are looking to book a table at a restaurant, choose a new local hairdressers to use, find a solicitor with a good reputation or some other big money purchase – the chances are that they will head straight to Google to check for any positive or negative feedback from existing customers.
Up until now, managing your online reputation (from a Google point of view) was fairly straight forward. When searching for your brand name, potential customers would be met with the search results and the company Google My Business (GMB) listing. The company profile would have the Google reviews (stars out of 5) and as long as you were on top of that all was fine.
Just this week all of that has changed – and it’s specific to the industry you are in!
September has seen the launch of social reviews being added to the company profile listing on Google. It has slowly rolled out over the last week and if it hasn’t hit your business yet, then it is likely to over the next week or so.
But what does this mean?
Take a look at our listing here:
We had just our Google reviews showing previously but now we also have our Facebook reviews. Now, just one review (albeit 5 stars) is pretty low so we will now be focusing on having our clients review us on Facebook a little more. The flip side of this is if you have bad reviews – this can seriously harm your click through rate or conversion rate.
This week I have been contacting local companies offering online reputation management services to those who have bad reviews – and I’d consider anything less than 4/5 to be bad. Most were completely unaware of the changes to the way Google are displaying their businesses and all were of course horrified when they saw how their bad reviews were being shown.
So what exactly is being shown?
If we take a look at this local restaurant you will see reviews for Yell.com and Facebook.
The reviews are good so there is no need for this business to worry. Having said that, they could look to improve their reputation further by getting reviews (or votes as Google call it) from other sources.
For restaurants, reviews from Facebook are the most popular, but OpenTable is another platform that is specific to the food industry that is shown. If a company has used voucher websites such as Living Social or Groupon to promote their business in the past then these reviews also show up – see this local fine dining restaurant below.
Does this really matter?
This is a question that you will have to judge yourself. My answer to that would be that if you have online reviews then your customers are discussing your business in the online space. This means that your potential customers are going to be searching for you in this place too.
If you are selling products or services that are more expensive than impulse buy (of £20 or less) then the chances of your brand being searched are higher. The more customers have to pay for your product or service, the more research and homework they are going to do around your brand before they build up enough trust to buy from you.
What about organic search?
Something that has not been announced by Google but a trend that we have noticed this week is that brand searches seem to be giving more prominence to social review pages. If you go back to our Brum Design SEO search (pic 1) then you will notice that Facebook is the second and third result on page one. This was not the case a week ago.
Ultimately, you need to be ranking number one for your brand. You also need to be completely aware of anything else that is showing on page one of Google for your brand. I was working with a solicitor this week who upon searching their brand, the top result was from a website called something along the lines of www.terriblesolicitorsuk.com and the review of their service was horrific.
Check the last picture again – see anything on page one that you might put off a potential customer?
If you are not dominating page one for your terms then you need to take action.
What can you do to dominate page one?
There are a range of strategies to dominate page one for your brand. You can build more social profiles and try and rank those using SEO strategies. You can issue press releases and rank those on page one. You rank more inner pages on your website on page one too.
Of course, if this is outside of your expertise or you don’t have time for this then you can utilise online reputation management services such as ours or use our SEO services to take an all round approach.
Whatever you do – doing nothing is not an option. Head to Google right now, go incognito (as this will not use your cached information) and search your brand name. Either way, you will be pleasantly surprised or horribly shocked – but knowledge is power and knowing about your reputation is better than not knowing and losing potential customers and revenue.