Although oftentimes undervalued or considered an afterthought, online reviews should be a critical part of your company’s local SEO plan.
Local SEO consists of a number of factors that help you address your local audience by better rankings in search engines.
A website’s reputation on Google My Business, Yelp.com, and other review sites play an important role in Google’s algorithm.
Whitespark released the findings from its annual Google Local Rankings Survey. The results of the survey found that reviews accounted for 15.44% of how Google ranks a local business.
Not to mention that having great online reviews will give you a solid reputation in your industry, while providing customer traction and loyalty.
Think of it like this: when you go to a store with a question in mind, you talk with the sales clerk, right? You don’t walk up to another customer in the store and ask them for information. However, that’s exactly what you do online.
You ask the internet.
The importance of online reviews
You may have a thriving business and pull in excellent ROI and feel confident about your company’s success- all awesome.
But if you let the importance of customer satisfaction (whether its related to your product/service or your customer support) fall from view, you’re going to lose all you’ve worked so hard for, and you’ll lose it fast.
Local Consumer Review Survey found the following facts:
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34)
- Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
- 40% of consumers only consider reviews written within the past 2 weeks – up from 18% last year
- 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars
- 80% of 18-34-year old have written online reviews – compared to just 41% of consumers over 55
- 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews
These stats, among hundreds of others, prove that customers are not only looking to reviews to give them the answers they want about your company, but they’re also leaving reviews in order to help others in their quest for quality products and services.
Reviews, both good and bad, make it possible for you to connect with your customer and build that relationship that will keep them coming back. Maintaining control of your reviews with quick, helpful follow-through will give you the feedback you want.
So, what will having outstanding reviews do for you exactly? Great question, here’s the answer:
You’ll gain customer trust
If you’re a business hoping to get local traffic quickly, the best way is to have your customers write a review for you.
Let’s say you own a pet grooming company. If a potential client is looking up “pet groomers” in your area and you pop up with 18 reviews, all with a four- or five-star rating, and your competitor pops up with six reviews, all with a four- or five-star rating, guess who the client will likely choose? You. The more good reviews, the better.
You’ll get a website ranking boost
Reviews are one of the fastest growing local ranking factors. They send a strong signal to Google that you have a real, quality business.
Moz found that the total number of reviews, the frequency by which your website gets reviews in the online world, and the diversity of the reviewing websites, all directly impact the search engine rankings of your website and how it generally appears in the SERPs.
You’ll understand your unique value proposition
It sounds fancy, but really all this means is that your reviews can give you insight into your customer.
How did they feel when working with you? What did your business do to impress them or make them feel comfortable?
Reviews can be extremely personal for the writer, giving you valuable information about your customers.
You’ll get free stuff, namely: marketing
Many local businesses don’t have the budget for exorbitant marketing campaigns, but that doesn’t mean you can’t run with the big dogs.
Let your reviews do the work for you.
Make it easy for your clients to leave reviews and they can do the advertising that truly matters to other potential clients.
You’ll increase your revenue
This doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out, but let’s break it down all math-like:
GOOD REVIEW = MORE CUSTOMERS = $$$!
We love this.
You’ll get powerful customer satisfaction
I’m not just using the adjective “powerful” willy-nilly here. Customer satisfaction IS powerful, and necessary.
If you do your research prior to buying a product and read all good reviews and then get the product and it’s amazing, you’re likely to also leave a good review.
And all those good reviews equate to powerful customer satisfaction.
Here’s where your reviews count most
The next big step in becoming a master of the review game, is knowing where your reviews matter most.
While the customer should certainly see reviews on your actual website, it’s important for them to find you elsewhere, too.
Your reviews should be found all over the internet, not only will that make you more credible, but it will also help the user find you with ease.
Focus on the top three review sites that are active in your niche and match the search intent of your consumer. Here are some to consider:
- Amazon Customer Reviews
- Angie’s List
- Consumer Reports
- Google My Business
- Yahoo! Local Listings
- Better Business Bureau
- Your website
- Industry-specific websites
Let’s get those reviews, shall we?
You know why they’re important and you know where you want them to be seen, but how do you get them there?
There are many working strategies that will get you your reviews, but we’ve compiled the best practices for achieving your review goals.
Make sure you create a space to leave a review wherever you want to found.
Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, Amazon, and the BBB are all popular and trusted sources for customer reviews.
You’ll want to be sure you’re registered on these sites and your information is current.
And whatever you do, don’t forget to check your reviews and respond on these third-party sites!
Your website should make it easy for customers to leave reviews.
Have links to your third-party review sources that are accessible and simple.
Make it worth their while
Incentives are a nice touch. Provide a little treat for those who leave a review.
Anything from a whitepaper to a coffee to a coupon code may give your customer that extra push they needed to give you a moment of their valuable time.
No response is never a good response
Whenever someone leaves you a review… Don’t forget to thank them! It’s a proven technique that will guarantee you more people.
Be prepared for those ill-received reviews. Hey, you can’t please everyone all the time, so don’t let the bad reviews get you down. Respond right away to any negativity and find out how to make it right.
Being proactive with a bad review will not only look good to the customer who’s dissatisfied, but others will see your eagerness to make things right and that just looks good all around.
Share the positivity
Many third-party sites will allow you to mark a review as helpful, in doing so, you’re essentially upvoting your review.
So, if you have an older review that sounds great, but it’s pushed way down and not easily seen, mark it and it moves up top!
It’s a quick way for people to see what you want them to, the reviews that make a lasting impression.
It never hurts to ask IRL (in real life)
It’s easy to forget that we have an actual voice and we can actually talk to actual people- live.
If you’re hosting an event or working at your store or speaking at a school, whatever the case may be, if you’re around people who can leave you a good review, just ask them to.
Bonus, they can usually do it immediately from their phone or device and most won’t think twice about it.
When you ask an open-ended question to your customer, you’re inviting a dialogue, and a connection is starting.
Use your questions to collect information that will add value to your brand and your customers.
For example, if you send an email out to customers who have already been using your product or service, ask them how it’s going or what they like about it. You can even ask what they dislike. If their feedback is positive, provide them with a link to your review sources and ask if they’d take a minute to let everyone know how they feel about your company.
Timing is everything
When asking for a customer review, make sure it makes sense in the process. For instance, if a customer is reordering from you, it’d be safe to assume they like your product and that would be a great time to ask.
Or say a new customer tells you they were referred by another customer, feel free to ask away. What you don’t want is to be pushy or ask when it won’t bode well with either party.
If you’re having trouble getting down the science behind the online review, you’re not alone. There are plenty of tools for helping you collect a five-star rating.
Here are a few that we love:
- Grade.us is a reputation management company that has (wait for it) 5 stars!
- BirdEye helps you get more customer reviews and more business
- Trustpilot is a global review platform that will generate more customer reviews in order to boost traffic and sales
Put a plan in action
Focus on your superstar clients.
The clients you know will leave gleaming reviews.
They’re the perfect place to start.
Divide up your database and contact a portion of them by email each month asking for their honest feedback and direct them to the channel where you’d like reviews.
Asking someone for their “honest feedback” instead of a “5-star review,” leads to better results.
Don’t ask them to leave a review while they’re at your location. Google knows where you’re located, and it can be a red flag to Google if everyone leaving a review is at your exact location.
They think that you might be incentivizing them. It can harm you and sometimes Google will even remove them.
Therefore, send your friendly request via email!
Local reviews matter for SEO
So now you get why your reviews are so important for SEO and your reputation and can’t be seen as a simple side note.
Be prepared for all the chaos that reviews may provide, good and bad, and handle each review accordingly.
With this arsenal of information, you’re well on your way to positive reviews and all they will provide.