Social Reputation Management & SEO
An Unlikely Pairing? Maybe Not.
Reputation management has simultaneously become easier and more difficult with the advent of the Internet. On one hand, access to more channels via which to broadcast your messages gives you the ability to reach more people faster than one could have ever imaged before. On the other hand, you now have a seemingly unending number of outlets on which mention of your business can appear, giving you a whole lot more to track and manage.
Review sites are one type of online outlet that most businesses realize can directly affect their reputations. And, yes, Google very much considers online reviews in its algorithms, meaning that reviews can directly impact your overall SEO. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use these reviews to your advantage? You can.
Enter Social Media
Concerns about the legitimacy of reviews on sites like Yelp along with consumers’ growing preference for more personal referrals have ushered in a new player in the online review arena—social media. Together, these factors offer your business a tremendous opportunity to get control over your online reputation.
Research shows posts on social media have directly influenced the buying decisions of more than 80% of consumers in the U.S. Other estimates indicate that over 15 million people regularly consult social media prior to making purchases.
Because it hits the issue of counterfeit reviews square in the eye, it’s easy to see how social media could become the new star of the online review show. A review that comes from somebody that you actually know carries a lot more weight than one from an unknown source, especially with an encrypted name and odd-looking avatar.
What Does It Look Like?
When creating your social media review strategy, one of the best places to start is with traditional review sites themselves. Take advantage of their existence and traffic and drive people from those sites to your social sites. Respond to reviews with a note thanking people for their comments but don’t stop there. Invite them to post their reviews on your Facebook page, for example, and get information about upcoming events.
As a corollary, ask people for reviews directly on your social sites. Grab their attention while they are already visiting you. It’s like one of the golden rules of sales—you have to ask for it.
One word of caution should be made here, however. In no way and at no time should you ever offer an incentive in exchange for a review. This will completely negate the validity of that review and open you up for what could become a costly penalty.
What about Yelp?
While I do believe that you should put time and effort into cultivating reviews via your social sites, I by no means am advocating that you abandon traditional review sites in the process. Despite their challenges, they are still highly regarded and their content does influence your SEO results. In the end, it is the diversified reputation management portfolio that will lead you to the results you want and deserve.
Chances are that your business already has a social presence so expanding that to include review solicitation and capture is logical. Let now be the time that you leverage the power of social media to manage your business’ reputation—and help your SEO.