Online Reputation Management (ORM): The complete guide for business owners

Sergio Garcia

17 min read Last Updated Oct 14, 2021

Your business’s reputation is a valuable asset. Online reputation management can help you leverage it to its fullest potential. In this guide, we’ll go over how you can use online reputation management to rank higher on search, get chosen by more customers, and be the best business in your area.

Chapter 1: A beginner’s guide to online reputation management

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management is the act of proactively creating and managing customer perception about your brand online. It determines how people perceive your business when they find you online. It primarily includes your online reviews and the comments that people leave about your business on social media.

What is the value of business reputation management?

Business reputation management is how a brand is viewed and perceived by its customers, stakeholders, and the market as a whole. It is the most valuable asset that a business can have. When customers think of doing business with you, they want to be assured that not only will the product satisfy their needs, the experience of doing business with your company will be great as well.

Online reputation management

The stronger your brand’s reputation, the greater is the willingness to pay for your product or service and that results in greater profits for your business. Your brand’s reputation is therefore critical for your success. This is why your brand’s reputation has actual value. 

A brief history of business reputation management

Business reputation management is by no means a new idea. Ever since the dawn of commerce, people have wanted to do business with organizations they’ve felt they could trust. So businesses have always aimed to build a great reputation that inspired trust and credibility.

With the rise of the Internet, business reputation management moved online. Consumers gradually started seeking out the experience of others who have had an experience with businesses they are interested in on review sites and social media. In other words, they look at businesses’ online reputation.

What is a good online reputation?

Most businesses will say a high overall star rating makes their business look great to customers. While this is partially true, it’s not the entire story. If a business has 11 online reviews with an average rating of 5.0 stars, would you say that this company has a strong online reputation? Some people might say yes.

However, consider the example below, if this company has a competitor with over 300 reviews and an average rating of 4.9 stars, which company are you more likely to go with? Our money would be on the competitor. 

online reputation management

While both companies have a good overall star rating, customers typically also consider factors like the number and recency of reviews.

So here’s the moral of the story: your business’s online reputation isn’t determined by any single metric like star rating. It’s important to take a holistic view of how customers are talking about your business online.

Do negative reviews hurt your online reputation?

While a business with lots of reviews probably will have some negative reviews here and there, it usually shouldn’t be an issue. Customers prefer businesses with some negative reviews over those with a perfect 5-star rating. A few negative reviews prove that your reviews are authentic.

Why you need an online reputation management strategy

Building a strong online reputation doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes work from the business. Even if you are providing a great customer experience, it’s possible that your online reputation doesn’t reflect this.

There’s a reason why this happens. Most of the time, the customers who are most likely to leave a review are those who’ve had a strong negative experience. As a result, your online reputation might end up reflecting the opinion of your displeased customers.
Luckily, there’s a way to fix this. An online reputation management strategy can ensure that the reviews posted on sites like Google and Facebook are a true representation of your business’s customer experience.

Benefits of online reputation management

Staying on top of your online reputation can help you stay ahead of your competitors. Here are a few of the benefits of online reputation management.

  • A great online reputation means more credibility with customers
    We can’t stress this enough: people want to do business with companies they trust. However, if a potential customer has never heard of you before, they don’t know if they can trust you or not. That’s where online reputation can help. If you have lots of great reviews, you can build credibility with customers.
  • A great online reputation means more visibility on search
    Your customers aren’t the only people who value your online reputation. A great online reputation means your business will rank higher in relevant search results (more on this is the next section).
  • A better online reputation means more revenue
    Studies show that a great online reputation means more revenue for your business. According to the Harvard Business Review, a 1-star increase in rating can result in a 5-9% increase in revenue.

Online reputation management and SEO

Search engines value online reviews just as your customers do. Online reviews provide fresh, organic content for your business and are meant to show the genuine experiences of your customers. Since Google aims to provide the best search results for customers, reviews provide them with valuable information.

Of course, reviews aren’t the only factor that matters for search. Search engines are the roadways that help direct targeted traffic to your site. Think about the signs on the side of a freeway that tell you there’s gas, food, and a place to sleep off a particular exit. If you don’t have your signs up, search engines won’t know that they can send traffic your way.

So the signals you send to search engines shouldn’t just include reviews. Your accurate and up-to-date contact information is needed to be discovered online – such as Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP), opening hours, and more. It’s also important to make sure that this information is consistent across the Internet.

online reputation management

Related: Read more on the impact of online reputation management on SEO to learn how you can generate more reviews and increase search ranking.

Chapter 2: How to get started with online reputation management

Building an online reputation management strategy

Before you dive into managing and responding to reviews, let’s talk about how you can build a strong online reputation management strategy.

  • Monitor
    Keep a close eye on how customers are discussing your business or writing reviews for your business on review sites like Facebook and Google.
  • Collect
    Ask your customers to leave reviews. Chances are that you have tons of customers who would be happy to do this. They just need an extra push.
  • Manage
    Keep track of your reviews from all over the Internet and respond to reviews – both negative and positive.
  • Market
    Once you have lots of great reviews, use them as social proof. Share your reviews on your website and on social media.
  • Connect
    If all of the previous four steps went right, you should have prospects who want to contact your business. Make sure that it’s easy for your business to communicate. That means having the right contact information on listings sites and easy ways to get in touch with you, like Webchat or a textable landline number.

Social media reputation management

Of course, it’s also important to keep an eye on what customers are saying about you on social media. The last thing any business wants is to have a customer’s social media post about a bad experience with your business going viral on Facebook and Twitter.

Managing your social media reputation has a lot in common with monitoring your reputation on review sites. Here are three tips for managing your social media reputation.

  • Monitor mentions of your brand – It’s important that you stay on top of mentions of your business so that you can know the moment customers talk about your brand in a positive or negative context.
  • Respond to customer complaints – If a customer complains about your business, get in touch right away. If you get to the bottom of the problem, the customer will most likely be happy to update or delete their original comment.
online reputation management
  • Encourage customers to post – Just as you should encourage customers to leave reviews, encourage customers to share your business on social media platforms. It’s an easy way to get more awareness for your brand.

10 steps to a stellar online reputation

So now that you know why your business’s reputation is so important, let’s talk about how you can create a stellar online reputation. We’ve put together these ten tips to lay the foundation for a great online reputation and future business growth.

1. Aim to provide quality service
The first step to building a great online reputation is by providing a fantastic customer experience from start to finish. Make sure that you are making an effort to consistently delight your customers.

2. Send review requests to all of your customers
Next, you want to make sure that your customers are sharing their great experience, on review sites and social media. Remember, a business with 500 reviews looks a lot better than a business with 5. There’s an easy trick to getting more reviews: just ask. By sending review requests via text and email to all of your customers, you will make the process of leaving a review easy. All they have to do is click on the link and write a review.

3. Be on the first page of Google search
75% of users never go past the first page of Google. By taking the steps to rank higher on search, your business will get discovered by more customers. To increase your business’s visibility on search, get more reviews, and make sure that your business listings are accurate across the Internet. It’s estimated that reviews and listings together account for more than 25% of ranking factors.

online reputation management

4. Monitor all relevant review sites
Customers are constantly making the decision whether or not they want to buy from your business through the hundreds of review sites on the Internet. Bad reviews on one site can lead to customers turning away from your business and going to a competitor. Make sure that you’re keeping track of every review site that you appear on to prevent damage to your reputation.

online reputation management

5. Engage with all of your customers
Be sure that you’re responding to your reviews to show that you care about the experience of all of your customers. Responding to a positive review is a great way to show appreciation and build loyalty. On the other hand, responding to a negative review in the right way can help turn an angry customer into someone who is ready to have a conversation with you or even an advocate of your business based on the way you handled the situation.

online reputation management

6. Treat negative feedback as an opportunity to improve
Remember, negative reviews can also be an opportunity to improve your customer experience. For example, if you see a customer complaining about something like “long wait time”, you might want to explore how you can make your processes more efficient. Use the insights that you get from reviews to better understand what aspects of your business customers love and what aspects need to be improved.

7. Fight slander against your business
Occasionally, you may get a bad review that comes from someone you don’t recognize or is reviewing the wrong business. In this case, put your evidence out there strongly and politely so potential customers know that they’re looking at a fake review. This shows the public that the review doesn’t actually represent your business.

online reputation management

8. Make sure that your listing information is accurate
Incorrect business listing information can spread across the Internet and cause serious damage to your business. Because there are just four major data aggregators that distribute listing information, a wrong address or phone number can quickly spread all over the Internet. That means a lot of confused and angry customers.

Related: Want to check if your business listings are accurate? Check out our free Scan My Business tool to find out if your contact information is accurate across the Internet.

9. Keep track of your competitors
Whether customers are trying to find a new restaurant or a new dental practice, they’re probably going to look up multiple different businesses online. That’s why it’s important to see what customers are saying about your competitors on review sites. If there are areas where your competitors are excelling and where you’re falling short, you can figure out what you can do differently to stay a step ahead.

online reputation management

10. Stay active on social media
Customers do keep track of what friends and family are saying on mediums like Facebook and Twitter. So make sure that your business is posting regularly on social media. Recent news about your business, a new offering, a promotion, or sharing one of the great customer reviews you recently received are all great things to share with your social media followers.

online reputation management
Can I do online reputation management myself?

Yes, you can do online reputation management yourself. However, reputation management requires a lot of time and energy into fixing listings, responding to reviews, and keeping track of competitor reviews. Invest in online reputation management software to automate these tasks and free up more time to run your business.

Reputation management software

A tool like Birdeye can make the process of managing your reviews significantly easier. Here are a few ways online reputation management software can help your business:

Online reputation management tools

Stay on top of customer reviews
Your customers aren’t just on big sites like Facebook or Google. Customers are discovering your business all over the Internet, making it important for you to stay on top of your online reputation on all platforms. Of course, this isn’t easy. It’s hard for business owners to go through every single review site manually, there just isn’t enough time in the day.

Luckily, there’s an easy way you can impress all of your potential customers, no matter where they discover you: Review Monitoring.

online reputation management

With Review Monitoring, it is easy to track all reviews from Google and Facebook to more industry-specific sites for lawyers, dentist reviews, realtor reviews, doctor ratings and reviews, and more all in one place on Birdeye’s dashboard. Birdeye tracks reviews from over 150 sites, making it easier than ever to manage your online reputation.

Generate new customer reviews
The more reviews you have, the better your business looks to customers. While sending review requests to your customers can help, it’s tough to manually send out emails and texts to your customers.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. Birdeye can send review requests to your customers automatically. Birdeye can integrate with your customer relationship management or practice management system and generate new reviews while you do the hard work of taking care of your business.

online reputation management

Manage reviews all over the Internet
Want to make sure that you’re dealing with negative reviews quickly and effectively? Birdeye gives businesses automatic notifications every time they get a bad review. That makes it easy for your team to deal with these problems before they escalate.

Birdeye makes responding to reviews easy. In order to respond to a review, all you have to do is type out a response within the Birdeye dashboard. Then your response will show up on the site where the review originally appeared.

online reputation management

Don’t have time to respond to every review? Birdeye also allows you to set up automatic review response templates. You can customize these responses so that they can fit your brand voice and circumstances.

Share your reviews on social media
We can’t say it enough: customers value reviews. So why not share them on social media? With a review management tool, you can make sharing reviews on social media and on your website easier than ever.

Whenever you get a 5-star review, Birdeye allows you to share it automatically on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Your social media followers can see social proof from any one of the 150+ review sites that Birdeye monitors.

online reputation management

Birdeye also allows you to showcase your glowing reviews on your website with an easy-to-install review widget. All you have to do is copy and paste a simple line of code. After that, website visitors can see the testimonials of all your happy customers.

Reputation management examples

Want to know how businesses use reputation management to get results? Here are a couple of real-life examples.

Brockport Smiles

Brockport Smiles is a dental practice based in Brockport, New York. Even though they were delivering a great patient experience, Brockport Smiles only had 3 reviews on Google. The practice decided to use Birdeye’s software to collect more reviews.

With Birdeye, Brockport Smiles was able to send automatic review request texts to all patients. Birdeye integrated with the practice management system Brockport Smiles was already using, so the practice was able to send texts and emails to customers on the same day as their appointment.

The results speak for themselves. The practice now has more than 400 reviews on Google. Now, potential patients looking for a new dentist can find them in the top search results and see social proof assuring that Brockport Smiles stands ahead of the competition.

Accent Roofing

Accent Roofing is a family-owned roofing business in the Atlanta area. While the company had a long record of satisfied customers, they were facing a stigma against roofers in their area. Since their state did not require licensing for roofers to operate, Accent Roofing realized they needed to build credibility with potential customers.

The business turned to Birdeye to collect reviews from customers. Birdeye’s review software made the process easy. All employees had to do was enter the customer’s name and email or phone number at the end of the job to send a review request. With Birdeye’s help, Accent Roofing now has more than 2,000 reviews.

Of course, Birdeye didn’t just help Accent Roofing with collecting reviews. Monitoring reviews is now easier than ever. Employees can keep track of reviews posted across the Internet within the Birdeye dashboard.

Related: Want to see more reputation management examples? Check out these awesome results that we’ve seen from businesses using Birdeye.

Reputation management cost

Investing in reputation management software is totally worth it. It’s an easy way to rank in the top search results, build credibility and social proof for your business while saving your team’s valuable time.

The price of reputation management software can vary based on the size of your business, the number of services that you want to subscribe to, and the number of locations that you have. Birdeye offers different plans for businesses with different goals.

We recommend that interested businesses speak with one of our reputation experts to better understand how your business can get the best results from online reputation management.

The best reputation management software

If you’re looking for the best reputation management software, choose Birdeye. Birdeye is the most comprehensive solution on the market. G2 has named Birdeye the #1 online reputation management software for 15 consecutive quarters among many other awards and recognitions.

best reputation management software

No other company on the market can compete with Birdeye’s all-in-one platform. Only Birdeye allows businesses to send automatic review requests, respond to customer reviews, send surveys, get actionable insights, fix listings across the Internet, and easily connect with customers through webchat and text messaging.