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Local Business Marketing Strategy - How to Manage Your Online Reviews

Online reviews of your business can be a blessing or a curse. It kind of depends on what they say about you.

Review sites are websites where your customers can review your business. They might talk about your service, your products, the experience of visiting your store, etc. The whole point is to tell other people before they go. These sites are basically the new ‘word of mouth.’

The biggies are Google Places, Citysearch and Yelp. On all 3 of these sites, you can ‘claim’ your business, and that’s the first step in managing your online reviews with this local business marketing strategy. When you visit your business’s listing, there’ll be a link that lets you claim it. After you claim your listing, you can edit the information and respond to reviews.

Building Online Reviews

Not to overstate the obvious, but you want as many good reviews as possible on these sites. They show up in search engines. One way to get great reviews is to offer the best service possible. Okay, you knew that already. Moving on…

You can usually get stellar reviews from your customers without twisting any arms. First, choose a main review site to use. Find out which of your business’s listings is appearing the most often in search engine results.

Then, put the URL of this listing everywhere – on print materials, menus, your website, receipts, place-mats, business cards, etc. Make sure they see it. Mention it to everyone because it’s a numbers game – only a certain number will actually follow through.

If you want great reviews fast, you can offer a coupon, discount or freebie for everybody who leaves a review. Make it a limited-time offer until you get the pile of good reviews you want so it doesn’t break the bank.

Online Review Damage Control

Now, here comes the tricky part – what if somebody leaves a scathing review on one of these sites and now everybody and their dog can find it in Google search?

First of all, some of these sites will let you ‘flag as inappropriate’ anything really bad. You can’t do this to make negative reviews disappear, of course, but if there’s anything insulting, nasty or inaccurate, you can get rid of it.

You can’t control what people say, but you can control how you react to it. Don’t go ballistic and call them any names or you’ll just look like a jerk. Instead, perform a little damage control.

Respond to all negative reviews and thank them for their feedback. If you can, ask them some follow-up questions so that you can make improvements. You actually can get valuable feedback from bad reviews. But even if the person is obviously just an idiot, you should solicit more information from them about their dissatisfaction. It says to people who read the review, ‘We messed up, but we want to know how we can improve.’

Keep Tabs on Your Reviews

It’s tough to keep an eye on all the new reviews and review sites popping up, but you can use a simple free tool that makes it really easy. Sign up with Google Alerts ( and enter your business’s name. Whenever that name shows up online, it’ll notify you by email. This way, you can deal with it quickly and perform your damage control if necessary.

David Carleton is a Local Business Marketing Consultant who specializes in showing owners how to spend less and get more from their marketing and advertising using low cost strategies in local business marketing, lead generation and conversion, Internet marketing and social media. To learn more go to or call 858-442-3131

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