Search your biz before your customers do!
Question: When was the last time you Googled your business?
If you answered “never” or “hmm…good question”, you may find yourself unpleasantly surprised like we were! If the term “search engine” sounded like gibberish, then stand up and walk away from the computer. Slowly.
As a small business we care deeply about our reputation. In the highly competitive world of commercial design, it’s our reputation, portfolio, and satisfied clients that pave the path to future business relationships.
One day, out of sheer curiosity I searched for “Palette Design Group”. My stomach sank almost immediately. Had I been enjoying a beverage, I'm almost positive that something comical would have followed. On the first page it read big and bold: “Palette Design Group…this design team is the worst” (see screenshot below).
On closer inspection, it became obvious that this was just a random coincidence - another business with a similar sounding name. And while this Pittsburg, PA based design firm wasn't even called Palette Design Group - nevertheless the overall ambiguous nature of the review had our name thrown into the mix...
I must admit, I was very relieved they weren’t talking about us. But it also dawned on me how poorly we were managing our search engine reputation, and how this exact situation has probably occurred many times to other small businesses. Maybe it's even happening to yours right now.
We’re only human. Tight deadlines, fatigue, and lulls can make us all slack off a bit in areas where we shouldn’t. At that point we decided to get a bit more serious about managing our online reputation – starting with search results.
Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) are “tactics often employed by companies and increasingly by individuals who seek to proactively shield their brands or reputations from damaging content. Given the increasing popularity and development of search engines, these tactics have become more important than ever. Consumer generated media (like blogs) has amplified the public's voice, making points of view - good or bad - easily expressed.” (Source: Wikipedia)
So how exactly does one get a SERM policy in place? It may sound complicated but getting started is actually quite easy, and just requires you keeping an ear out for brand mentions. Here are some ideas:
- Set a calendar reminder to manually scour the destinations your customers gather, including review sites, social networks, etc.
- Set up free Google Alerts which will email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
- Consider premium online reputation management tools like Trackur.
Having your business’ presence on the web says a lot about your desire to reach out to a wider range of clients and customers. Just make sure to manage that presence, and to protect your good reputation. If a prospect had stumbled across that review prior to a purchase, a great opportunity could have been lost.
By the way, we (very politely) got in touch with the individual who posted the review. We explained the situation and also requested that they update the post by clarifying who they were talking about. They (I think a bit surprised how far-reaching their words were) actually did one better and kindly removed the post entirely! We definitely got a lucky break that time, but it was a lesson learned. Know what's being said about your business. Legitimate or otherwise.
So, I'll ask again. When’s the last time you Googled your business?
Palette Design Group is a small web design firm based in metro Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, visit online: www.palettedesigngroup.com.
Further Recommended Reading about SERM: