How To Get Good Online Reviews That Build Business in Local Search
Good reviews on sites like Google and Yelp can entice people to check your business out, improve conversions, and potentially help organic search engine rankings. In this article, I’ll show you how to generate a continuous flow of good online reviews that should help your local business.
Why You Want Good Reviews
Reviews Stand Out in the Search Results. Good reviews on search engines like Google and review sites like Yelp can help attract more people to check out your business, as they often feature prominently in search results.
Local reviews are not just helpful for restaurants and hotels, but for most local businesses.
We focus on a number of markets including the legal market. I was showing a prospective customer its local results in Woburn, MA for one of the areas of law it focuses on.
A competitor’s listing appeared at the top of the local results with a 4.5 star rating (see the screen shot above). The star rating makes that listing stand out, and the reviews likely play a factor in it being the top listing in the local results. (I’ll talk about reviews’ effect on rankings below.)
Reviews Can Help Improve Conversions (Leads, Sales, Signups, etc.). Having a number of good reviews can make people feel more comfortable about doing business with you. In surveys such as this one on Marketing Land, 90% of the respondents said that positive online reviews influence their buying decisions. Perhaps even more importantly, almost as large a percentage were influenced by negative reviews.
People May Choose To View Only Highly Rated Or Reviewed Sites. Some sites, like Yelp and Google, allow people to only see listings with a minimum star rating, or to sort the listings by the most reviews.
If your business is in a market where a large percentage of your competitors have online reviews, your listing may not even be visible if you don’t have enough good reviews.
Do Reviews Affect Rankings?
While Google and Bing have never confirmed that reviews have an impact on rankings, anecdotal evidence suggests it’s likely.
In a 2013 analysis for the hotel industry, Digital Marketing Works found a strong correlation between reviews/ratings and positions, specifically between Local Carousel rank and average review rating and quantity. We have seen have seen similar correlations in markets we focus on and others have reported correlations, as well.
Make Sure Your Customers Are Happy!
First and foremost is to ensure that your customers are happy. You need happy customers to get good reviews! Unfortunately, unhappy customers are the ones most likely to post reviews.
You should work to identify both your satisfied and unsatisfied clients. Depending on the nature of your business, you could send out a satisfaction survey or call your customers periodically.
What we do is to ask our clients, “Would you take a call from a prospective client?” If they say yes, we know they are reasonably happy. If we don’t get an answer, we may have a problem.
If you find unhappy clients, you should take steps to learn what you need to do to correct the situation.
Find The Best Review Sites For You And Your Industry
There are many review sites. You want to focus on the most important review sites for your business and your industry. Here’s what we do for our clients:
- Search On Your Brand Names. Search on your company and brand names, with and without adding “reviews” to the search. You should find most of the public reviews you already have. Check those reviews. If you have some bad reviews, you’ll want to consider if and how you should respond.If you have a large number or bad reviews versus good reviews on a review site, you should consider focusing on this review site in order to build up more good reviews.
- Search On Important Non-Brand Keywords. Let’s say you own a gym. You’ll want to do some non-branded searches relevant to your business, such as “gym new haven” and other important search queries. Scan the results for reviews, and make note of the searches you’ve done and the review sites you see on the first page or so of the search results.
- Search On Brand Names Of Your Industry Leaders & Some Key Competitors.As with the non-brand keywords, scan the results for reviews and make note of the searches and the review sites you see in the top results.
After you have compiled the results of the above searches, make a short list of review sites to focus on by choosing the review sites that appear in the top search results for multiple searches along with the sites where you found you already have reviews. (Even if there are mostly good reviews, you may want to focus on these sites to keep a stream of good reviews as many people do look at the dates to see how recent the reviews are.)
Before you begin driving customers to any review sites, create or update profiles on any of the sites that allow it. You want clients and other users of the review site to see updated information. Plus you’ll have a way to respond to reviews.
Entice Customers To Submit A Review Online
Here are some tips to entice your customers to submit an online review. Again, check the terms and conditions of the review sites you plan to focus on so you know what you are allowed to do.
Create A Web Page With Links To Review Sites. You can create a web page that includes links to your profiles on some review sites, then encourage people to visit this page – for example, by putting a “Check us out on these review sites” link on most or all of your web pages and your email signatures.
Put Links To Review Sites In Your Web Pages & Email Signatures. Rather than creating a separate web page, you could put links to one or a couple of review sites on all or most of your pages. For example, you can add these links in the right or left column of the site with a headline such as “Check us out on these review sites.” Add similar links to your email signatures.
About Google Reviews
If you have a local business focus you’ll certainly want some good reviews on Google Maps (Google+ Local).
However, Google requires a Google Account in order to post a review. Not everyone will have a Google Account, and those who don’t may not want to spend the time to set one up just to submit a review. So, have an alternative review site for them that is easier to post reviews on.
Also, look for customers who have a Google email account (such as email@example.com) since you’ll know they have a Google Account.