Most local business owners realize that positive online reviews are good for business, but over the years, I have realized that many don’t realize how much they can influence it. Today’s consumers increasingly rely on reviews to make decisions about the products and services they buy, in fact:
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 92% of buyers regularly or sometimes rely on reviews when making their local buying decision.
Making comments on your business is a great way to provide third-party evidence that your company does what it says and your customers are happy and ready to talk about it. In fact, reviews are more important now than local search directories like Google and Yelp! It made them an essential component of a good ranking in the local search.
And it wouldn’t matter more – according to MOZ’s annual survey of local search ranking factors, links and reviews are now tighter. Bonus points for reviews with keywords. Getting reviews regularly takes a proactive and committed approach if you are going to generate them correctly and consistently.
Why online reviews / ratings matter
With all these scams these days, people want to be reassured when they are searching for products and services online and they get the value that they are looking for. They are looking for a reason to choose you during the competition, so you need to give them one.
Traditional SEO tactics can get you to top search engine results pages, but online reviews will help you close the deal.
In essence, online reviews are fresh daily referrals, so having a large number of them available for the public to see is a great way to stand out from your competition. No matter what you do for marketing, people will always trust what they say about you more than what they say you.
How to get reviews
It’s hard to get more reviews than they should be, even if you have popular fans. The key to getting reviews for your business is being proactive and making it easy to create a funnel. Here is a very simple process that I follow and recommend to clients trying to get feedback.
Create an email template to request reviews
Sometimes review websites filter reviews sent from customers instantly (based on their IP address), so you need to diversify your RFP strategy. A great way to follow and reach customers is via email.
Use a tool like Grade.us or GetFiveStars
The Grade.us app or GetFiveStars.com allows you to set up a review page for your clients to visit. You can also manage the process of earning review from the platforms. Add links to your Google My Business and Yelp profiles on the sidebar of your website to make it easy for people to find you on these sites and leave a comment. Put link to review site in email signature, business cards, and email and invoices (again, which makes it as easy as possible for them to leave a review for you).
Finally, as a good rule of thumb, consider writing reviews for feedback. What I mean is that you can actually build your brand online by providing feedback to the companies within your partner and referral networks because what helps them will help them in turn. I recommend starting with Google and Linkedin, because I found these places great for mutual reviews.
Where to build your online presence
While you need positive social proof reviews, you also need this for your local SEO efforts. Google treats review activity as one of the elements that helps identify which businesses appear in the 3-pack, which is something you shouldn’t ignore.
To make a real impact, I recommend you to get reviews on Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. In fact, for Google My Business, you need to have at least 5 Google reviews to view review stars as a local highlight feature. Plus, if there are any local review sites for your business, be sure to create them as well.
For example, if you’re a contractor remodeling in the Kansas City area, you’ll need good HomeAdvisor reviews. If you are a lawyer, then Avvo might be a good bet.
Plus, any time someone writes a “top 10” post or something similar for your type of business in your area, you’ll want to be on it.
Manage your reputation
It’s not enough just to set up your own review path and let it run in the background. You should be mindful of what people say about you and be present. Here are some good ground rules to follow:
- Do not write, buy or promote fake comments! Unfortunately, there are businesses that do this, but it is important that you are not one of them.
- Always engage with the people who review you, whether their comments are positive or negative. To get positive comments, be sure to thank them as it may encourage them to leave additional comments in the future. As for the negative comments, treat the issue professionally and recommend that the person give you a call to do everything. This shows your audience that you care and respect even with negative comments, but you can take the rest of the conversation offline.
- Do not be alarmed by negative reviews. They happened. Just remember to take the highway.
- Detailed reviews with keywords relevant to your business are more valuable than individual lines. Check if you can get your customers to leave detailed reviews on why they are so experienced
Hidden benefits of reviews
You don’t hear about this much but I have found these two benefits very important for businesses.
Reviews are a great way to create your company correspondence. Within the reviews, people often include what they really value about your business, which can be a great way to find topics. Once you define traits, make sure to include them in your messages. One of my clients consistently saw “pop up in time and clean up the job site” in their reviews, so we made it one of their key messages.
In addition to correspondence, reviews can be great for solving problems. If you get stuck or not hitting the goals you want to score, see if you can pinpoint the cause in user reviews. If they are dissatisfied with something, perhaps resolving the complaint may help solve your problem.
Bottom line, if you want your business to succeed in today’s world, you cannot ignore the many benefits of receiving reviews online. If this isn’t something that is starting to give him a lot of attention, now is the time to start.