By |Published On: June 11, 2012|

Customers have always shared their purchase experiences with friends and family. It’s been said that a happy customer told three people and an angry one told ten.

But the Internet allows an unhappy customer to share a bad experience—real or perceived—with millions of complete strangers through online reviews.

Some businesses see this as a risk and refuse to get online, thinking they are safe. But whether you realize it or not, your business is already online. Consumers can leave negative reviews on local websites you didn’t even know existed—and there are literally hundreds of them.

To compound matters, many of these review sites share their data with other sites. That means one bad review on Patch.com can wind up everywhere.

But where some people see risk, others see opportunity. Make no mistake; you must combat negative reviews by responding to them appropriately and offsetting them with positive ones. The risk factor requires that you manage your online reputation. The opportunity it presents is a powerful method to market your business online by generating positive reviews.

Don’t Leave Your Reputation to Chance

There are two reasons reputation marketing is so effective. The first is obvious: the vast majority of consumers trust online reviews. In fact, they consider them as trustworthy as a personal recommendation.

More than half (58 percent) trust a business that has positive reviews. But you need more than two or three. A consumer may not read each and every review, but the more you have, the more confident people will be that your overall “star ratings” average is accurate and trustworthy.

The second reason is Google considers the number of reviews each business has when deciding how high or low to rank them in its search results. If you have a lot of reviews, you’re more likely to appear above a competitor who doesn’t.

Now more than ever, you need a way to generate positive reviews.

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