There are some real scoundrels out there. People who have nothing better to do than talk badly about you or your company. Are you listening? Your customers are!
Up to this point, I have danced relatively well above these ne’er do wells, bouncing from cloud to cloud with a pretty angelic reputation online. It isn’t because I haven’t pissed anybody off. It’s just that I haven’t pissed anybody off “enough” to write too badly about me online so far.
I was recently speaking to a business guy who was pooh pooing the effects of google. Believe it or not, some very successful companies, like my favorite Mexican food and Friday night caterer for thinktank, Tacos El Gordo de Tijuana, don’t even have a fricken website! This place literally serves over 5,000 people a day in their combined locations, actually has the best Mexican food I’ve ever had (tied with Chipotle) and has zero online presence.
Unfortunately, no matter what someone may “think” about the effect of google, googles got us all by the butt, even if you are friends with Matt Cutts. Having your own site rank well for your name, or your key terms is great for getting customers, but what about the next 30 sites down blabbing about you?
In my opinion, there are a few different categories of searches that people do.
1. Entertainment – These are people just cruising around because they don’t have anything more important to do.You might grab someones interest with an article or add, and then gently steer them in some direction. They will rarely notice the bad stuff written about you online unless by chance they come across it.
2. Know What they want, but not Who to buy it from – These are the ones who have made a decision to buy, and now they are looking for the best place. This is the sweet spot in SEO, and why you want your site to rank high for your keywords.
3. Researching a particular topic before they close. – Again, this is where good SEO will lead them to your site, or another site to educate them on your product.
4. Researching your company before they buy.
We are going to take a good look at this last one.
They are at that last step before they send you that e-mail, spend the money, or sign the contract.
Researching about your company before they buy in my experience is still a relatively new way to use search.
For those of us who can type faster than we can speak this is probably second nature. I hear a brand name, a website, a T.V. commercial or even an individual, and before I say a word, I google it. I even do this while talking to someone on the phone. I could give a flying piece of toast as to what they say about themselves if we are not already friends. I do care what others say about them.
A prefect example was yesterday. My right heel had gotten so dry and cracked it barely looked human. I’ve never had a pedicure in my life, but realized that this had gotten to a point where I needed professional help.
I know if I google pedicure San Diego that the top site is most likely going to be the one where the owner of the salon has a friend who does SEO, or the site designer bought a few links, or something of that nature. Honestly, the whole system is way too easy to game for me to trust my delicate heel to it.
So I went to Yelp and entered in pedicure – San Diego. The place that popped up is called LuLu’s. There is a reason they popped up as the best place to get a pedicure in San Diego. They ranked well in yelp because they had a ton of reviews, and overall the reviews were very positive. To earn this they do an amazing job, and are less than dinner for 4 at Mc Donalds. For this I got Leslie, a beautiful estitician, spend half an hour soaking, buffing, scrubbing and filing my cracked calloused feet into submission. She won. The place is adorable, in a cute older neighborhood, easy parking, offered us tea when we arrived and were warm, friendly and safe. It was also super clean.
The next thing I did just to be safe was googled LuLu’s salon San Diego. As you scroll down you see nothing but “best place in San Diego”, “love this place”, “what an amazing experience”, on and on and on down the page. Not a single whinning compaint!
I’ve been working for years on reputation management, and John Andrews recently really got me thinking about exactly what I was doing, and how it all worked.
I would wager a bet that if you took the group of all Americans.
Then you removed everyone who makes less than $100,000 per year.
The group you would have left are the movers and shakers of our economy. They for the most part make the decisions that effect everyone else, what they do, what they buy, and even what will be available to them.
I’ll bet over 90 percent of that group, when making a buying decision of any significance, google their final choice before they actually purchase. If they don’t, they will be once they figure out the power in this.
As a business owner it is pain in the butt keeping track of what people are saying online about you, and correcting the damage when they do. It can also down right hurt ones feelings when the people writing are mean, and inaccurate. An unhappy customer obviously should come to you first, give you a chance to resolve it, then if you don’t resolve it, they can write about their unhappy car buying experience later.
As John Andrews suggested in his blog, the time to get positive reputation management is now, before the world gets the idea of the damage they can do you online. On the other hand, if you are aggressively getting your name in place properly before hand, it will take a pretty powerful internet marketer to knock you down online.
As consumers understand the internet and especially rating sites and blogs, I predict it will eventually be considered stupidity unless you google the name first to see what it is.