Few things are more damaging to a brand or business than when one says something like, "Our business isn't online, so we don't have to worry about someone attacking our brand".
Not only is that statement ridiculous, it's also horribly wrong! Without an online presence and not monitoring what and where things are being said about your brand, you might as well not even have a brand or business in the first place.
Today we are going to look at three different industry stats on reputation management and the first impression being delivered to consumers when they search for brands online. If these stats don't startle you and make your want to have total control over how your brand looks online, then you likely never will.
85% of Consumers are Searching for Local Businesses
It's not a question of whether or not people are searching for your local business online, it's simply a matter of "how often" and what they find.
In a report from SearchEngineWatch, it's reported that local business reviews are read by up to 85% of consumers. Through the graph below you can also see how often consumers are searching for brands online... with 2-5 times over the past 12 months leading the way.
While the data from the report and chart are extremely effective for understanding how often people are searching for businesses and brands online, it's safe to assume these numbers are now much higher with everyone now having access to mobile devices and Google ranking local content much higher in the search results.
Now the question to ask yourself is, what is your potential consumer finding when they search for your local brand or business? If your site and content isn't ranking for multiple positions on the main page of Google, your reputation could be in jeopardy.
72% of Consumers Trust Online Reviews as Much as Personal Recommendations
Remember the last time a friend or family member recommend a service of product for you to buy? You likely took their recommendation to heart and knew they wouldn't steer you in the wrong direction. In most cases you would probably even buy the product if you saw it while you were out shopping -- simply because it was recommended by someone close to you.
Now how would you feel if you saw a review online for a product you were thinking about buying? Keep in mind that you don't personally know who wrote the review or if it might even be a paid advertisement.
The scary truth is that 72% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from close friends or family!
SearchEngineLand has a great article full of interesting stats on how online recommendations and reviews are changing the way people research and impulse buy online.
Q6: Do you trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations?
What does this mean for your brand or business? It means two things; that the value of your "real" recommendations from friends, family and existing customers is diminishing in value and that you need to aggressively promote any positive reviews and testimonials you might have through your website, blog and other review sites.
Not only do you need to have your own reviews out there, you also need to actively monitor existing mentions, reviews and complaints as well. More than anything else, these survey responses prove that online reviews and what consumers find online for your brand are more important than ever before.
The #1 Organic Result in Google Drives 33% of Clicks
Something we continually discuss on this blog is the importance of ranking at the top of the search results for your brand name and all relevant terms. If you aren't ranking in the first position, not only are you leaving yourself open for potential vulnerabilities and attacks, you are also missing out on a lot of traffic.
There are many ways to rank in Google's search results. The most powerful is through organic listings (non-paid). Not only are these the most valuable rankings in the eyes of Google, they are also the most clicked on listings from search users as well.
Protofuse reports that the first organic listing receives 33% of all clicks, and the first three listings combined receive over 61% of all clicks.
What does this mean for your brand and online reputation? Simple... if you aren't ranking number 1 in Google, you might as well not rank at all.
Refer to our article on search ranking keywords to see the many different ways to rank at the top of the search results outside of just your personal and business name.
Your Online Reputation is What Consumers See First
Referring back to our beginning statement in the article, your business or brand is online whether you want it to be or not. The question is instead whether or not you are going to rank at the top of the search results when someone is searching your brand online. If not, they are likely going to end up on a random review site that you have no control over.
The good news is that it's never too late to get started with online reputation and repairing any damage that has already been done. Follow our reputation management tips and implement a strategy that works for your organization to make sure you leave a great first impression that represents the brand you've worked so hard to build.