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Reviews are the social proof that can help keep your business afloat. Nothing is better advertising than having someone else recommend your product or service. Word of mouth advertising has always been the most valuable and now it is easier than ever for people to recommend businesses online.No matter what kind of business you run, there is always a need for reviews. The more you have that are positive, the better your ranking will be in the search results. In fact, having plenty of great feedback and recommendations can actually increase your chances of getting into the local pack or carousel. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to get them.
The Benefits of Online ReviewsDid you know that around 80% of consumers check reviews on products and services before they buy? Out of these:
- 86% of buying decisions are affected by negative reviews
- 90% of buying decisions are affected by positive reviews
How to Encourage Customers to Leave a ReviewIn many cases, customers won’t leave a review on their own unless they are very upset or extremely pleased with their experience. The best way to ensure positive reviews is to provide excellent customer service. If you get a negative review, make sure to address the problem to ensure the problem doesn’t occur again.Don’t be afraid to ask for a review. This is the best way to remind customers to share their feedback.
- Ask for feedback during a phone call or email. When someone calls or writes to let you know that they enjoy a product or service, ask them to copy that to a review site.
- Add a feedback button to your site. Encourage customers to let the world know how they feel about you.
- Provide in-store customers with an URL. Giving customers instructions for creating a review on Google+ or Yelp, along with the URL for the page, can help increase the amount of feedback left.
- Ask for multiple reviews. If someone has been nice enough to leave feedback on your website or a social media page, why not ask if they would mind leaving a review on another important site or two. Repeat customers are more likely to oblige.
- Show examples. Placing testimonials on your website can help encourage other people to do the same. You can even mention the feedback site where each review has been published.
- Send an email. You should have at least an email address for every customer that has bought from you, so use it to ask them what they thought of the company. You can suggest review sites in the email, as well.
- Of course, the best way to get people to leave feedback and recommend you to their friends is to simply provide incredible service that they can’t help but talk about. Every company will garner at least one bad review, but if the overall gist is positive, it won’t affect your ratings.
Top Review SitesWhile there are hundreds, if not thousands of sites where customers can write about their opinions of businesses, some are more valuable than others. The websites covered here are some that you will find most useful in your local SEO efforts.It’s best to watch for new reviews and to quickly address any negative reviews. You can often turn a bad review into a good one by acting quickly and working to resolve the issue.
YelpOne-third of Americans use Yelp to either post reviews or check business information. The site is essential for businesses that want to take advantage of top reviews. Yelp is also featured quite often in Google’s local search results, so you really need to make sure you are listed.It’s worth noting that Yelp discourages companies blatantly asking for reviews. You can mention that your business is on Yelp, but don’t link to it or ask people to go and leave a review. That doesn’t mean you can’t encourage reviews, though. You can also:
- Display positive Yelp reviews prominently in your business
- Add a Yelp QR code in the store
- Mention on social media that you are on Yelp and invite people to check your page out
- Include links to Yelp in your email newsletters
- Add a Yelp badge to your website
Google+Every local business should have a Google Places page. This allows you to add another citation to your business, as well as giving people a chance to leave their feedback. Since Google+ reviews are often featured in local knowledge panels and pack/carousel results, it should be considered mandatory for companies to have a page setup.Let people know that they can interact with you on the business page and make a point of being somewhat active there. It will draw more customers and this will generate more reviews.
Niche-specific review sitesDepending on your business category, you can also find review sites that are designed specifically for your niche. There are review websites for nearly every niche and these can be quite useful when you want to stand out in your industry.A few examples of industry-specific review sites include:
Blog reviewsAnother option for reviews is through blogs. When a blogger reviews your company, you gain additional publicity. While many people will write about your products or services without prompting, you may also send a sample in exchange for a review.It can be very time consuming to find bloggers, contact them and send out samples, then follow up. Chances are, you have minimal time for this. If that’s the case, you may want to set up an account on one of the following sites:
Avoid These Review MistakesThe last thing you want to do is lose out on the benefits of a great testimonial. For that reason, you should be careful to avoid some very common mistakes that businesses make.Buying reviews. If you have to pay for it, the review could be discounted and you may even be penalized. It can be tough to get those first reviews and you may be tempted to pay someone to add a review or two, but it’s not worth the risk. Just don’t do it.Linking to a review site. This is a somewhat controversial technique. Most SEO experts agree that you should avoid placing a direct link to a review website on your own site or in an email or newsletter. The clickthrough can look suspicious as if you are trying to game the system.Setting up a review station. Having a review station with an Internet-enabled tablet or computer in your store may seem like a great idea. However, the review will come from the same IP address as your business, which can cause issues. It’s usually best to just let customers know where they can leave a review. Give them a slip of paper or a card with the URLs and information on it if need be.Creating a fake review. Like buying opinions, fake reviewing can have nasty consequences and should never be done. In many cases, it isn’t difficult to trace the review back to you, which may result in your site being penalized.Ignoring negative feedback. You may not enjoy reading someone’s bad feedback, but it can help your business improve. You can implement suggested changes and respond to customers who didn’t enjoy their purchasing experience. In fact, responding to bad reviews can help keep them at bay. Some people will even delete their own reviews when they see the owner of the business is answering.Deleting negative reviews. It can be tempting to get rid of all evidence of negative opinions about your business, but this is usually counterproductive. Instead of helping, it will hinder your progress. Anyone who has left a negative review will know that you’ve removed it and most will become quite vocal about it.
Handling Negative ReviewsWhile we’ve touched briefly on how you shouldn’t ignore a negative review, you can actually learn quite a bit from a bad one. Great businesses don’t discount the bad reviews but use them to improve the quality of service.The first step is to decide whether the review is actually helpful or not. Does it mention a specific issue or does it merely say that the business is terrible? Non-specific reviews can be discarded, but those that outline the exact problem they have with your company or products can be used for improvement.
- Examine the review carefully.
- Does it mention an issue with the business, customer service or product?
- Is the problem something you can remedy? If so, is it worth it to get better publicity?
- Is the issue a recurring one, indicating an ongoing problem with your business?