People have always trusted word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family to find businesses they could trust. In today’s technological age, recommendations are more important than ever now that business reviews are easy to find online. Research shows that 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations, and nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews such as consumer reports to determine the quality of a local business.* What does this mean for you and your business? It means you should make sure you have a solid online presence on the most popular review sites with visible, easy-to-find, business reviews. Here are some tips for using reviews to establish a positive online reputation.
A variety of factors affect where your business shows up in search engine rankings. One factor is business review signals. According to Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, review signals are accountable for 13% of the factors looked at to determine overall SEO rankings. Review signals are determined by 3 main factors: review quantity, review velocity, and review diversity.
The number of reviews that your business has online. Simply put, the more reviews your business has, the more it helps your search engine ranking.
How quickly your business receives new reviews. If you have many reviews coming in at the same time followed by periods of no reviews, search engines may penalize your search ranking. It’s best to have a steady flow of reviews coming in over an extended period of time. This helps search engines know that these are legitimate business reviews coming from real customers.
The number of sites your business is reviewed on. If a business focuses primarily on increasing their reviews on one review site, it ultimately hurts the business’s review diversity. Reviews will help SEO rankings the most if you ensure that your business is receiving multiple rankings from a variety of review sites.
Search for your business on the major review sites that are relevant to your industry. If your business doesn’t have any current reviews on a certain review site, make note of it so that you can directly ask clients to review you there. Here are a few key ones to check:
It doesn’t hurt to ask! Choose one or two review sites to target then specifically ask clients to review you there. You can do this by posting a sign in your office, emailing a request including links to the review sites, or creating a social media post. If you like you can offer incentives (“check in on Facebook and leave us a review for a free appetizer!”), but be careful not to specifically request 5 stars, which boarders on bribery. Just ask for honest, open feedback in order to help you improve your client experience. That being said, you may want to avoid directly asking clients who you feel may have had a negative experience for a public review; their feedback would be best addressed in private.
Negative or less-than-perfect feedback is bound to pop up now and then. Don’t let this discourage you—no business can be perfect 100% of the time. The worst thing you can do is ignore the review or try to delete it or bury it. Instead, acknowledge it and respond. Leave a public comment if possible, but be careful not to be defensive or make excuses. Instead, apologize for whatever occurred (the customer is always right!) and promise to do better next time. If you know who the client is, you can contact them privately, apologize, and offer to resolve their issue. Consider offering a discounted/free service or a gift card to relieve their frustration. Don’t directly ask them to remove the review, but if they feel the issue has been resolved they will likely remove or revise the review themselves. Most importantly, use their feedback to improve client experience in the future in order to minimize any future negative reviews.
Customers’ feedback about their experiences is an important part of your company’s story. Make sure you’re not only paying attention to business reviews in order to improve client experience, but also sharing them with others. When you receive a positive review, ask the client’s permission to publicize it on your website or social media page (clarify whether or not they want to remain anonymous). A section of your website devoted to reviews is an effective way to make them visible. Another great way to share positive feedback is to distribute it to your employees through email—what a great morale booster for everyone to feel that they’re on the right track! Everyone loves a shout-out, so if one or two specific employees were particularly helpful in shaping that client’s positive experience, be sure to give them credit for doing so.
The more positive reviews you have on multiple review sites, the more trustworthy and reliable your business will appear to potential clients. This word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most organic and effective ways to market your business. While you can’t directly control how often you receive reviews or what clients say, you can certainly be proactive in seeking out their feedback and in making the most of it when it comes. The results will be an increase in new clientele, as well as satisfied returning customers!
*Data sourced from: Search Engine Land, “88% of Consumers Trust Online Reviews,” Author Myles Anderson, July 2014.
Kati is a social media writer for Visibly Connected. She enjoys creating a unique voice and personality for each business that she represents, and establishing effective communication between that business and its customers.