For a lot of business owners, going after reviews is kind of like asking for a birthday present. Awkward. You’re not alone. How do you get people to say nice things about you, without asking? And if you ask, what if you don’t like what you hear?
Good news is, you can actually get reviews without coming off like a schmuck, and give your website a huge advantage over the guys next door in local search results rankings. Even less-than-stellar reviews can help you improve your interactions with customers, and your bottom line.
Why Do I Need Business Reviews?
The answer seems obvious, but let’s drill down to the specifics. Search engines like businesses with review ratings because it just makes it a heck of a lot easier to rank your business on a search results page. Expensive websites with flashy layouts won’t tell a search engine what your customer service is really like, or your décor, or convey how promptly you resolved an issue for a customer.
Probably the most important reason, is customers. Market research published in 2016 by Vendasta revealed that over 88 per cent of consumers are impacted by reviews in their purchasing decisions. 80 per cent of them trust a review as much as a friend’s recommendation.
Search engines like Google rank businesses with star ratings higher
In other words, reviews are great for your conversion.
Testimonials are great, but customers have to find your website first, before they can read all the wonderful things your clients have to say about you on your ‘Testimonials’ page. Reviews and star ratings are clearly visible indications to a new user, and to search engines that your business is prefered, and legitimate.
Whether you’re a real estate agent, a freelance photographer, or a restaurant with three locations, you’ll dominate local search results with more reviews and here’s how to get them:
Create A Great Customer Experience
Go the extra mile. Respond promptly. Look for solutions instead of problems. We all know the clichés but what protocols are strategies do you have in place to ensure that you are living up to these basic tenets of customers service? Do your customers and employees feel like they can give you honest feedback?
Asking your customers for feedback is thoughtful, courteous, and a great way to proactively address potential issues. Someone who was unhappy with the steak you served isn’t likely to want more when you ask, “Is there anything else I can get you?” But if you ask, “We really enjoyed serving you. Is there anything about our service you weren’t satisfied with?” You show customers that you’re actually open to feedback, and they’ll be more likely to respond with honesty. Better to find out the steak was undercooked this way, than reading it in a review posted later.
List Your Business in Several Local Indexes
The top 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) all offer free business listings. List your business name and address information in all of them, and claim any citations of your business you can find. Again, according to Vendasta, 88 per cent of consumers reads about ten reviews before they make a decision, so you’ll want to attract a sizeable amount of reviews, say 30 -50. By registering in all three, you increase your odds of showing up in more searches, and you open your business to reviews from account holders in each. Only Google gmail account holders can leave a review on Google, and same goes for Yelp and Bing users.
Research Top Review Sites for Your Industry
A competitive keyword research tool like AuthenticLabs or SEMrush can help you identify branded and unbranded URL’s in your industry or region that are ranking high with lots of reviews. Check out a few of the reviews to find out where most of their reviews are coming from. Chances are it will prove a fertile ground for you to find willing reviewers as well. Shortlist the best candidates and reach out to them and their audience. If you’re a physiotherapist and most of the reviews in your industry come from a local print magazine with a popular online following, introduce yourself and offer to solve a particularly challenging problem for one of their readers. You can write about the experience on your company blog, share it on social media, and the magazine will host a backlink of the article on their site, increasing your exposure and your chances of attracting reviews.
Start A Company Blog
If you haven’t started one yet, now is the time to start! The SEO rewards of a company blog are really just too many to name here. Essentially, a blog allows you to publish content that your customers will find useful enough to share with their friends in online forums, networks and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). As you publish more articles, you increase your chances of showing up in search results, and your chances of attracting more reviews.
Post Links to Review Sites on Relevant Pages of Your Website
Make it easy for customers to leave their feedback by posting a link to your shortlist of review sites. Place the links on web pages where it makes sense. A user visiting your organic food delivery service home page for the first time isn’t likely to leave a review, but a review link on a page where you’re offering a free guide to eating natural organic food makes more sense. Don’t overwhelm your customers with options, and keep the links grouped together so they can easily pick the one they prefer.
Include A Link to Review Sites on Your Monthly Email Newsletter
This is a no-brainer! Once you’ve identified the most likely sources for generating reviews in your field or industry, include a link in your monthly email communications.