November 19, 2014

Need Online Business Reviews? Read This!

Need Online Business Reviews?  Read This!

Google’s publicly stated a number of different SEO benefits that reviews provide your website:

When you have 10-20 reviews, Google ranks your business higher – according to Higher Visibility

Reviews also offer fresh content (if you choose to post them on your site), and this helps satisfy the Google Fresh Update

Besides that, the fact that you have a good average rating encourages more people to use your business.  In fact, 52% of those surveyed by Hubspot said positive customer reviews make it more likely they’ll purchase from that business (compared to 28% who choose based on location and price alone). And, what people say in those reviews can also increase sales – and especially so if what they say is results-oriented.

If you’re not already aware, one site that really stinks for reviews is Yelp.  They’ve received tons of complaints, including allegations they filter out positive reviews, allow negative ones, and do so with more frequency when the company in question refuses to purchase advertising through Yelp.  Some also claim Yelp deletes positive reviews offered by reviewers with profiles that aren’t highly active.  So whatever you do, stay far, far away from Yelp.

There’s only about a million other business review sites online, so which are the most important?  Here are a few:

  • Google+ Local
  • The BBB
  • Angie’s List
  • Citysearch
  • Merchant Circle
  • Epinions
  • Insider Pages
  • Yellow Pages

You don’t need to be on all of them, but you should get listed on 3-4 or so to start.

Now here’s the question you really want the answer to:

How do You Create a Strategy for Getting Online Reviews?

If you’ve been wondering how to get online reviews, you don’t have to worry about it too much.  It’s actually pretty simple.

Some ideas for getting online business reviews:

Ask for them in Person.  Wait until you’ve made a customer happy, and then ask them to review your business online.  Mention the site you’d like them to use though – otherwise you might get them from an undesirable website (like Yelp).

If your customers are under 30… Consider using your social network profiles to ask for a review.  They do everything online, so it’s pretty easy to get them to take action.  Encourage unbiased, honest feedback.

Do you have an e-mail list?  If so, that’s a great way to ask for a review.

Don’t have a list, but do have the e-mail?  Send an e-mail to your customer about 3 days or so after service.  Inside the e-mail, add links to the top sites from which you’d like to receive reviews.  Better yet, just make that part of your signature so you don’t have to type the links up over and over again.

If you do most of your business by phone… Try following up with your customers using a comment card.  Use return postage on the card, attach it to your invoice, and ask for the review.

For customers that purchase in-store… Include a short note at the bottom of their receipt.

For smartphone users…  Add a QR code to your business or comment cards they can take along with them.  When scanned, this should take them directly to your desired review site.  Yeah, it costs a little, but QR codes are pretty simple, so it’s not a huge additional expense, and the business you get from the better reviews will more than offset the cost of the QR code.

Create a dedicated testimonial section on your website.  It’s as simple as can be – and you’ll get reviews from your desired site.  On that page, you could embed your reviews, which also helps your SEO.

Some Additional Tips

Now that you have some strategic ideas in place for getting more online reviews, let’s talk about some things you should and should not do.

Avoid creating fake reviews.  It’s tempting to do, but don’t do it.  Review sites are becoming aware of this and are removing the fake reviews.  And if you’re customers discover this is happening, you’ll lose a ton of trust.  If you get caught, you could also get fined for it.

Don’t offer incentives for reviews.  This could actually hurt your business more so than anything else.  Your top customers could feel hurt you’re willing to manipulate the system like this.  Additionally, you’ll also get biased information, which means you can’t make solid business decisions.

Do ask promptly.  The shorter you ask for a review after the time of service, the more likely you are to actually get the review.  An article at Search Engine Land claims you can get completion rates of 80-90% when you do this.

Fill out your business profiles.  You always want to have the appearance that your business is active, so make sure your profiles are fully filled out on all websites where you want to get reviews.  It’s a good idea to include pictures of your business, staff, products, and services as well.

Respond to as many reviews as possible.  If you’re smaller, make sure you hit every single one, at least thanking people for their feedback.  Others will notice how much you care, and that may be enough for you to choose them over another business.Address negative reviews.  If you can contact a person who makes a negative review and resolve the issue, do it.  Then, follow up the review with comments, if you were able to come to a resolution that makes the customer happy.

So if you’re wondering how to get business reviews online, that’s the short of it.  Yes, I know, more to manage, but also very necessary and helpful to take care of in today’s business environment.

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