Due to the popularity of web searches and the increased profile of Yelp and other “Review” type websites, your online reputation is now the keystone to all other digital representations your business can have. It is the equivalent of word-of-mouth and personal referrals that were once the lifeblood of businesses prior to the information age. The greatest difference now is that everyone can access the feedback given about your business.
It doesn’t matter how nice your website looks & operates; it doesn’t matter how much you spend on pay-per-click advertising; it doesn’t matter if your business ranks highly for searched keyword terms for your target market UNLESS your online reputation is stellar.
Imagine yourself in the market for a service of some kind like a restaurant, auto repair, dentist, furniture store, etc. You go to your favorite search engine and type in the kind of service you’re looking for along with the name of your city. You see a number of businesses listed. One has a five star reputation, a few others 4 stars, and a couple others have 3 stars and below. Which business will you choose? Will you even consider a business with less than 3 stars?
Now let’s say that a business with a lower-score reputation pays for advertising or for search engine optimization (SEO) to try to get their website to rank higher on the search engines. This business will pay for visitors who will find the low reputation and decide against the business. So advertising spending will actually HURT the business. Focusing on reputation before any other marketing will provide a biggest benefit by far in digital marketing.
Your reputation is your business. Make it your first priority in your marketing.