One of the most important aspects of online reputation management is actually monitoring what people are saying about you. Doing this manually would be verging on the impossible but thankfully there are some free tools out there which can really make the task easier.

Consider using Google alerts which will provide you a daily or weekly email about new pages and posts that contain your brand name within them, Tweet alarm provides a similar service on Twitter.

Tools like this allow you to actively seek out those talking about your brand (both negative and positive) and allow you to engage with them, negative experiences are inevitable however a silent response to a bad review can often interpreted as “I don’t care” rather than the truth which is “I haven’t been monitoring my brand name effectively” Effective ORM will often involve making the best out of a bad situation.

A positive review can be great for business and should be encouraged at all times, whether it’s on the bottom of a receipt, via e-mail or even offering a discount for reviewing online.

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Local Business Reviews = Reputation

What people say about your company online has become the single most important reflection of your company’s quality, reliability, and skill. It doesn’t matter if you’re a dentist, a plastic surgeon, a carpet cleaner, or a painter. In Nielsen’s most recent Global Trust in Advertising study, 66% of global consumers indicated they trust online reviews from strangers when making purchasing decisions.

It appears that more recent reviews weigh more heavily by the search engines in terms of ranking. For this reason alone, creating a steady stream of new, positive reviews makes sense. Additionally, the fact that more recent reviews pack more powerful social proof with potential customers than older reviews, and you simply must put systems in place to continually gather reviews.

Ask yourself: If one dentist has 25 reviews with a 4-star average and the next best has one 5-star review, who are you going to call? Reliability is proven with consistency, particularly where reviews are concerned.

This one is pretty obvious: The higher your reviews, the better your status will be – within reason. A business with nothing but 5-star ratings can look suspicious but, in general, the more favorable your reviews, the better.

Reputation management is no easy task and does require time to be spent on it. It is of critical importance to ensure you are proactive in looking after your reputation and not waiting until it is too late and the damage has been done.