Online reviews play a major role in search engine optimization these days, specifically for local SEO and dominating the top of Google’s local map results. You can’t simply ask your customers to leave reviews and sit back — you need to be proactive and make protecting your business online a priority.
The online reviews you collect benefit your business several ways. First, most consumers will always read reviews prior to making a purchase decision. Having an abundance number of positive reviews instills purchase confidence and will help you attract more buyers. Second, Google takes these into consideration — after all, their goal is to provide their users with the most valuable and accurate information.
If there were two local businesses and one had dozens of negative reviews and the other one had positive review which listing is perceived to be more helpful to someone performing a search? The one with positive reviews, of course.
You need to focus on attracting positive reviews and constantly monitoring your online reputation. Here are five tips to help you accomplish this more effectively.
1. Monitor and audit your reviews on a consistent basis.
There are so many platforms that have reviews of your business — from Google, Yelp and Facebook, to Glassdoor, the Better Business Bureau and local business directories. Trying to remember to manually check them all and staying up on that task can be time consuming, and most business owners don’t have the time to waste doing this.
“Moz Local and ReviewPush are a couple of tools available to monitor local reviews, and when you use something like this it allows you to free up time for other business growth initiatives, while also still remaining 100 percent on top of your reviews,” says Darryl Howard of NuWays MD.
Aside from the SEO benefits, monitoring your reviews online gives you valuable feedback from your customers, which you can then use to improve the customer experience. Top online rankings are important, but if you are ignoring the feedback and not striving to constantly improve your business will never evolve.
2. Combine review monitoring with proactive influencer marketing.
One of the best ways to help attract positive reviews for your business is to align your company with influencers. They are very influential and can often help push your customer base to leave reviews in your favor.
This is why brands have used celebrities in their print and TV ads for decades. When a consumer connects a popular celebrity with a company, they automatically will often have a better view of the company, which naturally translates to positive thoughts.
Now, ‘celebrities’ are normal people that just happen to have large social media followings, but they are just as influential, if not more, than the old school movie star celebrities. The new wave of social media influencers often have a much more targeted following, which is more valuable to a brand.
Find some local influencers and give them your product or service for free in exchange for some free promotion. Then, re-post their content featuring your product and service. Your audience will see that, and it can instantly change their view, which can help you generate more favorable reviews.
3. Ask for reviews — don’t be shy.
This is common sense, but many businesses simply don’t ask their customers to leave a review. If they simply did this, they would be flooded with positive reviews, helping them not only improve their online image, but also assist their SEO efforts.
“Sometimes you have to get creative,” says Jake Braun of ChopperExchange. “Something as simple as an email that offers a discount code or special offer to those that leave a review can really make a huge difference.”
You can also use social media to ask, and you can even offer something along the lines of a special ‘thank you’ to those that DM a screen shot of their review. You are asking someone to take time out of their day to leave a review, so sometimes you need to provide something of value. You don’t want to bribe them, but there is nothing wrong with a simple thank you.
You will be surprised at how many customers will leave you a review simply because you asked them. If you provide value and they love your product or service, you will find that most are willing to honor the request.
4. Respond to all reviews (yes, even the negative ones).
Not every review is going to be a glowing 5-star review, and any business that has hundreds of flawless reviews looks suspect. The reality of business is that you can never completely satisfy every single customer, especially as your grow in size.
“Replying to all reviews, even the bad ones, makes your business appear to be human and it can also help change the mind of those bad reviewers. Often times they just want to be heard, and when you give them your attention it often results in miscommunication or an issue being fixed and their review changing,” explains Dana VanDeCar, COO of Optimally Organic.
Thank the great reviews and show them that you appreciate them and also respond to the unfavorable ones, to show them and the public, that you care about all of your customers. This is the easiest way to create a very loyal following of repeat customers.
5. Always keep your responses professional.
While you may want to dispute claims made in a review, you want to make sure to never appear to be unprofessional. There are ways to reply and state your case while also being respectful.
“It’s always best to offer a solution to the problem, rather than just argue or call the customer a liar, even if what they are posting is completely untrue and not accurate. Create an opportunity for them to take the bait and convert into a happy customer,” advises Luqman Khan, founder of Wireloo.
Let’s pretend you had an upset customer that had to wait longer than they wanted for a delivery to arrive from your online store. Even if the package delivery delay was due to something out of your hands, like a weather-related delay, offer to refund their shipping charge. Something like this shows that you care, and it will help raw more people to your business. That shipping charge you refund will come back to you ten-fold in new business.