How Local Reviews Saved One Family
My sister and her family were recently traveling to a wedding. As this involved a van ride across several states, they decided to break their trip by spending the night in a hotel. When they got tired, they pulled into the parking lot of a roadside inn just off the exit. Being exactly in the middle of nowhere, my sister thought it prudent to check local reviews of the hotel, which up close looked a little shady around the edges.
Creatively Doomed by the Locals
She whipped out her mobile phone and searched the name and nearby city. Within a second or two, reviews were popping off her screen.
They started with a mild, “This place was disgusting!” and got increasingly informative as she scrolled down:
- RUN….BED BUGS!!!
- the manager was the opposite of friendly!
- hot, stinky room with spiders crawling the walls
- The carpet was stained, holes in the walls, furniture is trashed, the bathroom smelled like STDs.
- YOU WOULD BE SAFER SLEEPING IN YOUR VEHICLE OR UNDER THE INTERSTATE OVERPASS!!
- and then there’s the prostitutes
After they stopped laughing (the lambasting was pretty clever), the weary travelers got back on the road and drove off in search of a better resting spot.
Your reputation is everything. Local SEO is one of your most valuable marketing tools, and in today’s mobile environment, it takes little effort to pull up what others have to say about your business. In the first place, you need to have a good business – and if you don’t, you can’t hide that any more.
But if you have a good business, let your light shine. The review sword cuts both ways – and cultivating good user reviews not only gives you street cred with new customers, but it helps get you ‘found’ in the first place.
Reputation Management and SEO
Now this particular lodging establishment perhaps does not care about good SEO or how local SEO generates leads that turn into conversions (it likely caters to a niche demographic), but that is not generally the case. If you’re in business, you want business. And a good reputation in local search results translates into sales.
Marketing communication is no longer a one-way street with potential customers. The consumer now has a seat at the table. This is serious stuff because 88% of shoppers trust what the online community has to say as much as a personal recommendation. That means the consumer now has control of your brand!
Granted, consumers aren’t always fair. There are always the vindictive and the whiney – but when one or two reviews are obviously different from the others, it’s easy to sniff out a bad egg. As well, a timely, non-emotional response can go a long way toward diffusing a customer service bomb.
What You Can Do About Your Local Reputation
So, here’s the thing – you have to monitor the sentiment out there. There is a lot of software that can give you a courtside seat, but such resources require considerable investment. If you don’t have the tools – or the time – it’s imperative to have someone working on your behalf.
Why? Because you have to be vigilant as a monitor and proactive as a brand manager. Consumers don’t always judge fairly. You must make sure your PR team is doing its job. If there’s a bad review, address it. If there’s a lack of reviews, address that as well. To paraphrase the philosophers, Google abhors a vacuum.
The Bottom Line? This Affects Your Bottom Line
When it comes to good local reputation management, pay attention and execute responsive measures – not to spin, but have clarity. If no one is speaking on your behalf, people aren’t going to see you clearly. 72% of consumers decide whether they trust a local business based on positive reviews. So it’s clearly worth the effort to make sure shoppers see your good side.
For more information about local reviews, reputation management, and a gold mine of other valuable SEO information, check out the Edge of the Web Radio weekly podcast.