Businesses must maintain and regularly update their online presence.

More than 90 percent of all internet searches take place through Google; it processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Knowing this, it’s important for your business to have a strong presence on the platform. In fact, Google search rankings have become the pinnacle of online business success, considering the first page of Google search results receive 95 percent of web traffic, with subsequent pages receiving just 5 percent or less of the total traffic.

Alas, getting ranked on Google today is not easy. In addition to the increasing number of searches, the rise of voice search, competition from bigger companies and fewer results per page, landing on the first page of Google is challenging. In general, marketing leaders need to pay close attention to the quality of their organization’s local listings or risk losing business to the competition.

In order to improve your online reputation and enhance your company’s online visibility, it is imperative for businesses to leverage Google rankings, as well as their own webpages, third-party review sites and social media channels. Below are a couple of strategies to help stimulate online engagement and increase search engine rankings to help grow your business.

Optimize your place on Main Street

To enhance your Google rankings and remain on the first page of Google search results, businesses must maintain and regularly update their Google presence. To begin, create a local website landing page to authenticate your brand and location and be sure to include a link back to your organization’s homepage. Next, claim your business listing profile and ensure accuracy across all third-party sites where consumers can find your information.

Since Google uses local websites and third-party sites to authenticate businesses, make sure the company name, address and phone number remain updated and accurate across a variety of networks—the more places Google can find your information, the more confidence it has in your company and the better your company’s site will rank in search results.

Now, try Googling your business and review your Google listing. Notice customer ratings and reviews lay front and center of a company’s Google rating. Local search engines, like Google, understand that reviews play an important part in the consumer’s decision process.

In fact, Google actually encourages businesses to respond to reviews to improve their local SEO. It is important to note, a poor rating or negative review on Google listing is enough to send a potential customer back to the search bar for better results. Since Google My Business prominently displays ratings and reviews on company profiles, businesses need to remain mindful of their online profile, online reputation and their response rates if they want to remain at the top of Google search results.

Survey the back roads

Consumers are increasingly relying on online ratings and reviews to determine what hotel to book or what restaurant to eat at. In fact, according to a recent study, 93 percent of people read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. While the start of a company’s reputation is formed within physical walls, a company’s reputation gains exponential momentum once consumers go online and leave comments on a litany of online ratings, review and social media sites.

While Google uses its own Google-entity rankings first, the search engine also pulls in legitimate reviews from across the web. Overall, Google wants to provide the most updated, relevant information to users to help them make more informed decisions. Since all sites are taken into account (to some degree) when calculating search engine rankings, it is necessary to monitor and manage your company’s online reputation across all third-party sites and platforms. Although Google listings might be a priority for many businesses, companies need to continually maintain the “back roads” (a.k.a. local websites and social media pages) if they want to keep their place on main street.

General rules the road

While the priority still resides with Google, keeping your brand’s online reputation and visibility alive and fresh is a multi-tiered approach. To streamline this process, businesses should consider investing in technology that can aggregate and analyze sentiment for online ratings and reviews sites as well as social media channels.

Deploying proper reputation management procedures can help your business grow its brand, increase new customer volumes and build better customer experiences in competitive markets.