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Reputation is Perception

“Character is like a tree, and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” — Abraham Lincoln

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffett

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” — Socrates

As these three wise men allude to, reputation is primarily based on perception. Businesses can be ruined by even one person’s negative perception from a bad review or experience. Of course, as business owners, we always strive to make all our customers and clients happy, leaving our businesses with a feeling of satisfaction and the desire to not only come back but to also positively recount their experiences with us to others. With a business’s reputation hanging in a delicate balance of possible destruction in mere minutes after decades of careful cultivation, what options exist for a business to help ensure its rightful reputation in not only local searches; but how do we engage with people from their mouse clicks tens of thousands of miles away who may want to patronize our business?

SEO and Local Reputation Management 
As Socrates stated, it is crucial to cultivate and create the image you want for your business. It sounds easy: walk the walk and the rest will follow. However, as Warren Buffet points out, a reputation is a very delicate creation. Even assuming you only have positive reviews for your company, with the advent of the internet, even local reputation management is no longer centered around community talk or (local) advertising. Proper SEO (search engine optimization) management drives traffic to businesses more often than word of mouth as people make more and more decisions of what to buy and where to go based on what pops up in Google first.

People are using, and trusting, online searches, lists, reviews more and more often to make decisions on their purchases. For instance, it is SEO, and not word of mouth, that returns the results for “best saltwater fishing tour in Pompano Beach.” If someone knows no one who has gone saltwater fishing before and doesn’t use any travel agents, or even if they do, more and more often, their first way of finding a company to take them saltwater fishing on their summer vacation is a Google search. Your business’s number one goal is thus increasing your SEO to return your name when someone types this phrase into Google. SEO is, now, THE best tool (link the SEO blog) to manage your business’s local (and online) reputation. Considering that people are searching from all over the world, proper SEO helps businesses maintain both a strong local and global presence.

SERPs and Local Reputation Management
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are, as seen in their name, what comes up when someone types your business’s name in a browser. Continuing with our previous example, let’s say you’ve been found by a customer through SEO as the “best saltwater fishing tour in Pompano Beach.” What comes up when a customer types in your business’s name next is online reviews. Online reviews are a part of reputation management that you must delicately cultivate, as no amount of SEO, social media presence, discounts, etc., can easily erase multiple negative reviews. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, your business may be the tree and its reputation its shadow, one is real and one isn’t; however, even an actual marvelous tree cannot flourish living under the shadow of a bad reputation.

Let’s focus on what a business can control. The first sites Google will pull up outside of its reviews are your business’s social media pages. It is crucial to ask yourself if these sites are well-cultivated. Using our saltwater fishing example, do you have photos of clients having fun, hauling in monsters, and generally being well-taken care of? Have you worked to cultivate relationships with local travel agencies, or even large online travel agencies (e.g., Kayak, Trip Advisor, etc.) to retrieve your business as one they list in their compilations? These two examples are only some of the ways to manage and maintain the SERPs that result from customers looking for a business to patronize; however, they are crucial ways that a business can work to control its local reputation. Working to cultivate your business is best suited to be done by you, the business owner. Working to increase internet traffic, funneling worldwide searches into local business results for your business, in short, making your business easy to find online, is what we specialize in.

Your Bottom Line
A business’s success depends on the proper management of its reputation. Managing a business’s reputation has been shifting slowly and surely more and more towards a business’s presence online. It is more important than ever to put your best foot forward with a carefully curated social media presence and strategic SEO. Your business’s reputation, and its bottom line, hinges upon its online presence. It’s crucial to implement marketing strategies that maximize your online reputation, for both local and global reviews: local strategies result in a global reputation footprint.

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