Online Reputation Management Tips for Small Business Websites

The Internet is the ultimate equalizer. Inside a browser window, a one-employee home business can look as good as a Fortune 500 company.

This presents an important challenge. As a small business, how can you convince potential customers that yours is not a fly-by-night operation?

There are several things you can do on your site to generate trust:

About Us

Create an “About Us” page. Better still, make it an “About Me” page. People are tired of large, bureaucratic conglomerates and their “your-call-is-important-to-us” approach to service.

Unlike the big guys, you can connect with customers at a personal level. Include your picture and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself.

Physical Address

Include your physical address on your website. Even if your customers never visit you, a physical address shows them that you are real and don’t have anything to hide.

Business Age

Mention how long you have been in business. Longevity and stability are proxies for trust. If your small business is still young, you can talk about your past experience instead.

Contact Us

Use different email addresses in your “Contact Us” page. Create several email addresses for different “departments”.

For example, set up:

sales@yourdomain.com
support@yourdomain.com
billing@yourdomain.com

Then, forward them all to your regular email address. Even if you’re just a one-man-show this will project a more professional image.

Toll Free Phone Number

Get a 1-800 number and display it prominently on your site. As a customer, you expect the companies you do business with to have a toll free line.

It has become the norm, and it’s really not that expensive, so you should secure one.

Reviews & Testimonials

Real opinions of satisfied customers are effective trust-builders. To be credible, reviews should provide some form of contact information (a name and a link to a website will work).

Showing a list of previous customers and the type of work you did for them is also very effective.

If you’re just starting out, ask your friends for their opinions, or give away free samples in exchange for comments that you can then turn into testimonials.

Professional Associations

If you belong to a professional association (like the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of Realtors, or the American Management Association) ask them if you can use their logo on your site. They are a very effective way to generate trust.

Privacy Policy

Have a privacy policy explaining how you will use your visitors’ personal information. A good lawyer can craft a bullet-proof privacy policy for about a hundred bucks (in this litigious society that is money well spent).

Terms and Conditions

Have a terms and conditions page that explains the limitations of your liability when others visit your site. Including a privacy policy and terms and conditions on your site are signs that you are serious about your business.

Media Page

Create a “Media” page and post press releases, news about your company, high-resolution pictures of your products, your company profile and history, etc.

You want people in the press to talk about you. The easier you make their job the more coverage you’ll get, and the more trustworthy your company will appear.

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