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Online Review -EducationAs a small business, you are responsible for marketing your business – and that means identifying your most viable marketing avenues.  Whatever size your business is, there is no denying that it should have an Internet presence, as the Internet is the arguably the most powerful marketing arena there is.  A large part of establishing a strong online presence is managing your online reviews and reputation.

All of the major search engines are now using some sort of local search technology to display information about companies that are based in one specific geographic location. You may have heard it can take months for a website to make it to the top of the search engines.

If you’re in a highly-competitive niche, you may never be able to make it there. Fortunately, local search and online reviews make it easy to grab a top ranking in Google very quickly.

The Importance of Online Reviews

Local search results with your online reviews appear at the top of the results, before the standard organic search results are shown. This means that your online reviews get a lot of attention, often more so than the actual search results. If your business is not listed, but your competitors are, you will be losing a lot of business.

In some areas, thousands of people use Google and other search engines to find local businesses just like yours every single day. It just makes sense to make use of review technology. It’s free to submit your business, and having great online reviews can make a big difference to your bottom line.

There are a number of online review sites that exist solely for allowing your customers and clients the opportunity to post their experiences with your business, and these sites are where your online reputation can be made or broken.  Online review sites include Foursquare, Yelp, and Urban Spoon, as well as many others. Google Places is among the most important, providing a dedicated space on your Places page for customer reviews.

Online Reviews: Empower Your Business

If you don’t take control of your online presence, someone else will.  Even if your business is a small mom and pop shop with only a very basic website, you have to keep this statistic in mind: 90 percent of all consumers research the Internet when looking for businesses to deal with.  That means that if you are not proactively managing your own business reputation, then it will be managed by the actions of others.  Taking into account the previously mentioned statistic, consider the implications of even one negative review about your business, especially if that is all people find when searching for you.

Simply search the web for your business name and see what online review results you get.  You may also want to search your name, the names of your high-profile employees, your brand, and your product/service.  You need not look past the first page of search engine results, as 99 percent of your customers will never get past that page when looking for online reviews.

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