Whether you sell products, provide services or have a brick and mortar business your customers visit, online business reviews matter play an important role in a company’s ranking factor in local SEO. A 2018 local consumer survey by BrightLocal found that 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses and consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business.
Having a Rock Solid Online Review Strategy Matters
It’s important to always keep refreshing your digital marketing strategy with new practices and techniques. Having a rock solid online review strategy to gather Yelp reviews, Google Business reviews, Facebook reviews, testimonials for your website and more can improve your online rating scale, increase sales, and establish a healthy cadence of positive reviews posted.
When people read positive reviews, the next step often taken is a website visit or business location visit. According to Propecta, 81 percent of B2B purchase cycles, and 89 percent of shoppers, start with a web search.
Two of the most important things search engines look at when weighing reviews are quantity and sentiment. The quantity, or overall number of reviews used to be the most important factor, but as of 2017, sentiment now matters even more.
Lastly, review cadence is also important. Your business needs consistent online review activity over time, rather than a spike and dip in reviews. Keeping this in mind when developing an online review strategy will help you identify the best practices and most feasible tactics to implement for your company.
Understand Why People Leave Reviews To Benefit Your Online Review Strategy
When it comes to leaving reviews, it’s the tale of two extremes. People leave reviews when they love a brand and want to celebrate it, or, when they hate a brand and want to warn others. In other words, people with strong emotions about a brand or company’s products or services will go out of their way to sing their praises or warn other customers about their experience.
When executing your online review strategy, be prepared to take the good with the bad. We know that it takes about 10 positive reviews to nullify one bad review, so keep that in mind when working to gain new reviews for your company.
Focusing Your Online Review Strategy on SEO
For the purpose of SEO, your primary focus should be on increasing the number of Google reviews. Your secondary focus should be on platforms like Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor etc.
We know that it takes about 10 positive reviews to mitigate damage from one negative review. We’ll need to keep that ratio in mind as we set a goal for how many positive reviews we need to earn over the next few months.
With the goal of improving SEO, reviews should go ONLY to the business listing on Google. The question isn’t “what is the best platform,” it’s “what is the best platform for SEO?”
How To Get More Reviews
Ask for them. The old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” rings especially true when it comes to receiving reviews. Increasing the number of reviews you have is a fundamental part of a rock solid online review strategy.
Here are some ideas and best practices to get you started:
- Before you ask, know when it’s appropriate to ask for a review. First, determine which past and present clients have something positive to say about their experience working with your team.
- Another route is to identify past and present colleagues and members of your professional network that would welcome the opportunity to leave a few kind words about your working relationship.
It’s all about timing. Consider implementing some sort of timeline rollout in your online review strategy to keep you organized.
- Know when clients are most likely to respond and actually leave a review. For instance, after a big win, at a major company milestone, on their anniversary date, or after a big project is completed.
- Everyone’s always going to be busy. Don’t let that deter you from reaching out. Trying to identify a “slower time of year” never works, so just reach out then to ask for their help with learning an online review for your business.
- If it is a busier time of year, manage your expectations in terms of immediacy for a response. The key is to keep following up.
- Once you have identified the best time to reach out and which clients to reach out to, make note of this in your Customer Relationship Management system or internal timeline calendar so you don’t forget to reach out and/or follow up.
Lastly, make it easy for customers to post a review. Provide a direct link for your customers and colleagues to easily post an online review about your business.
Here is an easy step-by-step guide to simplifying this process:
- Create a link for customers to write reviews via the Google Places API.
- Copy the place ID and put it in the URL string.
- Drop that link where you want reviews.
Expanding further on this, another idea is to include a CTA in your email signature. Here’s a sample prompt you can simply copy and paste into your existing signature:
“Have feedback for [YOUR COMPANY NAME]? Tell us how we’re doing by leaving a review on Google. [HYPERLINK TO YOUR COMPANY’S GOOGLE REVIEW PAGE].
Responding to Online Reviews
A review, whether it’s good, lukewarm, or bad, means that people are proactively interacting with your brand. Best practices suggest that all reviews are worth a response. The approach should be different depending on the tonality of the review.
If reviews are left on other sites, set up an alert for when they are posted. Then, get in touch with reviewers personally to thank them for leaving a review and ask them to copy/paste it to Google Business reviews with a provided link.
How to respond to a positive review:
- Be quick with your response
- Be warm and personal
- Say thank you
- Talk about “next time” and “in the future”
- Make it actionable on your part
How to respond to a bad review:
- 57 percent of the time, bad ratings relate to customer service
- In your response, depersonalize the interaction. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about the business.
- Be empathetic and proactive
- Be actionable. Say what you are going to do to make it right
- Talk about “next time” and “in the future”
How to respond to a lukewarm review:
- Consider it like a negative review
- If you didn’t wow them, the service was disappointing in some way so follow the same methodology in which you would respond to a bad review
- The upside is that they found it worth their time to leave a review, meaning they’re open to giving you a second chance