Potential customers use local search and reviews to research your business before becoming actual customers. You can ensure the data they find is correct by claiming and verifying your location information online. Incorrect or missing information can have a negative effect on your business and reputation.
Managing your online reputation begins with a basic task: claiming your location on as many services as possible. You'll need to find your location listings online before you can claim them. First, check for your listings on popular local listing sites like Yahoo Local, Google, Bing Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor and FourSquare. Yelp and TripAdvisor are well-known for having large numbers of active users who regularly review businesses. You may choose to focus on these two services first.
Most services verify listings to ensure data is correct before publishing the information. Sometimes, this involves calling the business directly. Work with your store manager to ensure location verification can be completed by phone. If verification is done by mail, be sure to tell your manager ahead of time.
The Admin Dashboard
A listing service with an administrative dashboard is generally easier to use for reputation management. You can create a main account, then invite your marketing/social media staff as listing managers. You can revoke access at any time as well.
Google My Business - List your location on multiple Google services from a central dashboard. You ensure the data is correct once and the information is published across Google products - Google Search, Google Plus and Google Maps. Google Your Business allows multiple listing managers to edit location information.
Yelp for Business - Add your location to Yelp, manage reviews and promote your business all from one business dashboard. Invite additional managers as needed.
TripAdvisor - TripAdvisor offers an administrative dashboard but only for hoteliers. Other businesses may find the claim process cumbersome because it does not provide the best user experience for businesses who wish to allow multiple managers to edit location data.
Hiring a Marketing Firm
Some business owners may wish to employ a marketing firm to handle the location claim process. Before beginning, decide which listing services are a priority for your business. Some firms will claim location listings on your behalf, but this usually means they are the owner of the data too.
A simple spreadsheet works well for tracking your reputation management progress. Some listing services may move your location through the verification process and publish in as little as seven days. Others may take longer. Each will give you an estimated time to expect verification or publication. Once your location is live, you can respond to reviews and complaints.
Managing your online reputation is an ongoing process. Claiming your locations online is a great start and can help the right customers find the right information about you and your business.