In the digital age, where everything is just a click away, your online brand reputation is like that ‘Marvel superhero suit’ of the virtual world. And one of the most powerful layers of this suit is reviews. From Google Reviews to social media comments, every word written about your brand can have a significant impact. So, grab your cape and get ready to dive into the fascinating world of online brand reputation.
What is brand reputation
Brand reputation refers to the public’s overall perception of a brand. It is a subjective assessment based on consumers’ past experiences, current interactions and future expectations of a company or product. This is the most ‘formal’ description. However, I think it is much better understood by this quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Reputation is like fine china: once broken, it is very hard to repair.”
Even more so, online reputation is especially important in the digital age. Reviews on Google, forums, rating sites such as Tripadvisor or on social networks have become the salvation or the stigma of many brands and companies, whether selling products or services. This reputation, which can be created or destroyed in a matter of seconds by users, is one of the most direct impacts that currently exist in the perception of a brand.
Why does online reputation matter so much?
Let’s see; imagine that your brand is a book and the reviews are the criticisms that determine whether someone decides to read it. Well, your company’s digital reputation is the first impression consumers get of it, and reviews are kind of like the synopsis we read on the back cover.
According to a BrightLocal report, 87% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. . I don’t know about you, but I haven’t entered a restaurant without reading the reviews on Google or Tripadvisor, I don’t buy anything on Amazon without looking at the reviews, or I don’t read all the reviews before booking a hotel on Booking. It seems that the idea of passing by a place and going in because ‘it looks good’ is no longer valid. Reviews are the new word of mouth; it’s about trusting real strangers who say that this place “is wonderful, with a sublime service and a meal to repeat”, or that you shouldn’t even go “because the owner is a nasty person and the soup arrived cold”. Subjective? Well… maybe.
The power of Google Reviews and Google MyBusiness
When it comes to reviews, Google is a sort of wizard behind the curtain. It is the one who ‘runs the show’. Google Reviews and Google MyBusiness are crucial tools for our online reputation. Whether we like it or not. According to the Google MyBusiness blog, “businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for directions and 35% more clicks to their websites”.
But let’s look a little more in detail at how these two tools affect any business:
Google Reviews: the voice of consumers.
Google reviews provide a direct window into the customer experience. They are authentic testimonials that significantly influence the decision making of all those who are considering hiring our services or buying our products. The star rating system and detailed reviews allow users to evaluate the quality of a company’s products or services. A high number of positive reviews not only improves brand visibility in search results, but also creates a positive impression in the consumer’s mind.
Impact on SEO
Google values freshness and relevance of content, and reviews are a dynamic form of user-generated content. A higher number of reviews, especially positive ones, can improve a company’s ranking in search results. Businesses with a higher number of reviews tend to attract more clicks, leading to increased visibility and ultimately more traffic.
Google My Business: the key to local presence
GMB is a comprehensive tool that allows businesses to manage their presence on Google, especially in local searches. By claiming and optimizing your profile, businesses can provide key information to consumers, such as opening hours, location, reviews and photos. This profile appears in search results and maps, providing an instant first impression to users interested in local products or services.
Improve local visibility
GMB not only facilitates business information management, but also improves local visibility. Businesses that are well optimized in GMB are more likely to appear in local search results and in the popular ‘three-pack’* on Google Maps, increasing the chances of attracting local customers.
*The Google Local pack or Google Local Pack is a section that appears in the organic results taking into account the user’s geolocation, showing them the three most prominent businesses closest to them, based on their query or query.
Direct interaction with clients:
GMB provides a direct channel of communication between the company and customers. Question and answer functions allow companies to address common queries, while post updates keep customers informed about relevant events, offers and news.
At the event “Generación y reputación de marca a partir de opiniones” held by the Escuela de Unidad Editorial and Expansión, one of the speakers, Alejandro Garrido, Retail Industry manager at Google commented: “The review is just the tip of the iceberg of an ecommerce. There are a lot of steps that are necessary in a purchase process. And what is Google Maps or My Business? It is proximity, it is knowledge and it is communication“.
How to manage and improve your online reputation: always respond!
“Building reputation is something that does not only happen in crises, but always. It is a constant, eternal work, with fleeting results, but this construction is a kind of ‘deaf labor’ to build in all channels”. And this is what Carlos Fernández Guerra, digital and social media director of Iberdrola, commented at this same event.
This management, as he pointed out, is something daily, something to which to dedicate time and effort. The key is how you handle the situation. That’s why it’s critical to respond to reviews, both positive and negative. Thank happy customers and proactively address the problems of dissatisfied customers. According to a Harvard Business Review study, companies that respond to reviews have an average rating 0.1 stars higher than those that do not.
Remember, transparency is key. If you made a mistake, admit it and offer solutions. Authenticity in your responses builds trust and shows customers that you care about their experience.