Customer reviews are now ubiquitous with the modern business landscape. According to Bright Local’s Local Consumer Review Survey, 86% of customers read reviews for local businesses, and they also need to see an average of 10 reviews before they trust a business.
The power of online reviews simply cannot be ignored. They have the ability to affect your local search ranking, which results get surfaced and are clicked on, and of course, consumer purchasing decisions. This means that business owners must know how to generate online reviews as well as manage their online reputation in order to draw in new customers and keep existing customers happy.
Online reviews and local SEO
In the words of the brains behind Shopify, “local search engines love online reviews for one reason: Consumers love online reviews.” In fact, the MOZ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey determined that online reviews make up around 10% of how search engines decide to rank results. The different variables are broken up by this chart:
Now that we’ve recognised the significance of online reviews, how can we go about acquiring reviews that will boost your online profile?
How to get online reviews
The first step is to figure out which review websites are relevant to your business. To work this out, try searching for your industry name + reviews on Google. For example, a search for “lawyer + reviews” comes up with reviews on OneFlare and Word of Mouth, indicating that that’s where you should try to generate reviews or engage with customers who have already left reviews.
Before you embark upon this mission, make sure to brush up on the guidelines for different review websites. Many, for example, forbid soliciting or incentivising reviews, meaning you need to act carefully when trying to generate reviews.
Regardless of your industry or niche, the site that is relevant to everyone is, of course, Google. In order to have a strong presence on Google, you will first need to claim your Google My Business page if you haven’t already. A quick rundown of the essential features of a Google My Business page are:
- A detailed and unique business description (i.e. not copy-pasted from your website, social media or other review page)
- Correctly identified categories
- Clear opening times
- A local phone number and address
- Customer reviews
Once your Google My Business page is setup and you’ve established a presence on the relevant review sites, you can start drawing in customers to leave reviews. This can be done by:
- Finding a review handout generator online to give to customers, which will act as a step-by-step guide on how to leave a glowing review for you on Google.
- Adding links to your review profiles on your website and social media
- Training staff to ask customers for a review when providing service, checking them out or resolving a problem for them
Managing your online reputation
Reviews can make or break your online reputation, so once they start pouring in, you’ll need to watch them carefully in order to manage your reputation and customer relations. Google Alerts can notify you every time your business is mentioned online, allowing you to proactively respond to compliments and complaints alike.
Spotting a negative review, particularly an unjust one, may get your blood boiling. However, before deleting the comment or firing back at the customer, allow yourself to simmer down. Remember that online reviews are a space for both negative and positive opinions to be shared. A respectful reply that seeks to remedy the gripe will leave a better impression on the disgruntled customer as well as any potential customers who come upon the review. Negative reviews can also provide you with valuable feedback, allowing you to improve your service or product offering.
Harnessing the power of both negative and positive online reviews will help you promote your SEO, direct sales, web traffic, reputation and business development. Taking on board the information above will allow you to build a strategy that maximises the power of reviews and benefits both your business and customers.
Fine Tune your Local SEO with Digital Squad
In addition to basking in the glory of wonderful reviews, you want to make sure every other aspect of your local SEO is functioning beautifully. For this, reach out to your SEO specialist Auckland – Digital Squad. Get in touch with our team for an open and honest chat on all things SEO to get all the insights on boosting your SEO.
Hania Syed is a Melbourne-based content specialist with a passion for marketing and storytelling. When she’s not writing, she can be found exploring the city’s cafes or libraries. You can visit her at www.haniasyed.com or www.linkedin.com/in/haniasyed