Reviews! Your Online Reputation Depends On Them
Online Reputation has become a critical component of many business’ core plan. Google has made it so that your business’ online reputation has become an increasingly important component of your local SEO strategy.
I am going to be completely transparent here. I used to loathe businesses that asked for a review. I always felt that reviews shouldn’t be forced. Now it has become the social norm for businesses to ask for a review or you to rate their service. You call a call center and when you’re wrapping up the call you’re asked if you wouldn’t mind taking a brief survey. You just finished eating at a local restaurant and the waitress asks if you wouldn’t mind leaving a review on Yelp or Facebook. It’s an expectation now, but have you ever wondered why?
Ratings and Reviews help businesses determine what they’re doing well, and what opportunities they have. Ratings and Reviews server another purpose though.
What’s Your Rep?
Over the last few years, Google has placed an increasing amount of emphasis on reviews. Google has made it clear that it will use your online reputation as a factor for your business’ website SEO and search results. A poor reputation means your business loses credibility with potential clients, and with Google. A good reputation means you have more credibility with both.
Google does look at reviews on your website as part of this factor but before you add random reviews to your site keep one thing in mind. Google will also search Google My Business and other 3rd party sites like Yelp and Facebook to see if reviews on your site correlate with reviews elsewhere. If they do not your online reputation will take a hit.
It is important that reviews and ratings are legitimate. We have all seen the business that has several negative reviews over a few months and then suddenly they have 5 positive reviews on the same day. You just know these positive reviews are fake, and Google knows too
Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation
How do you create a positive reputation or improve on a not so good online reputation?
- Ask for Reviews-It’s OK, you can ask. I have gotten over it so you should be able to as well. But how or when do you ask?
- Ask when the sale is complete. If you leave or send an invoice include a link to your direct review link. Another way to ask is to send a thank you note or gift with the link to your review page.
- Add the client’s email to your newsletter (with permission of course). Every 3 months send an email to your list asking for reviews. Include direct links to your review page(s).
- Share review links on social media. Again, make sure to include a direct link. If there is a lot of work involved to find the actual review link you will likely miss opportunities.
- Include links to review sites on your website. People will review you on their preferred platform (Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc). Be careful with Yelp, it is against their TOS for businesses to ask for reviews.
- Respond to Negative Reviews-This is a pet peeve of mine. I once worked with a locksmith in New Haven who received a negative review on Facebook. The reviewer wasn’t even a client but someone complaining that one of the locksmith’s trucks almost hit his car on the highway. This was the perfect opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Instead, the locksmith chose to ignore the review, and everyone saw this.A better way to handle this would have been to respond with a sincere apology and maybe offer a small token to express that he was truly apologetic. Doing this would have shown anyone who has seen this review that the locksmith is a caring person and is generally concerned for the well being of others. It also shows potential clients that you are responsive and attentive to people’s feedback, negative or positive.
- Provide Excellent Service-This should go without saying but I think it needs to be said. A lot of people have forgotten what great customer service looks like. The problem with that is we live in the information age. It has become easier than ever to publicly express your displeasure with a business. People are 50% more likely to share a bad experience on social media than they are a good experience (Marketing Charts, April 15, 2013). That means you have to work twice as hard to get a positive review.Providing consistent excellent service will improve your odds of receiving a great review. Provide added value to your service or product. I am not suggesting that you give something away for free (though that would work) but provide something that gives your product or service a little extra value.
- Socialize-This blog post, and all blog posts created by Local SEO Guru, and posts created for our clients, are shared often on social media. Sharing your expertise and knowledge helps you build your brand and gets your audience talking. I have gotten reviews based solely on information I have shared. People are more likely to review a business on social media if the page or profile is active and providing value.Sharing your expertise and knowledge helps build your credibility creating trust with your audience. As you probably already know trust and credibility go a long way to grow your brand. The more people that are buzzing about your business and brand the better your online reputation.Be active, be responsive and be social. Your Online Reputation depends on it.
- Track It All-One thing that is often missed in regards to online reputation management is tracking and monitoring. There are plenty of applications out there that help with tracking mentions and comments about your business/brand. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use Google Alerts. Go to google.com/alerts to create an alert with your brand/business name. Google will send you an email whenever there are comments or mentions relevant to your business.Track the results and reply to anything that is relevant, even (especially) if it is negative. Tracking and monitoring what is said about you online allows you to address things in a timely manner before it spins out of control.
Use these 5 steps to improve your online reputation. I am confident that if you put these into practice you will yield the results your business needs to be successful and to improve your Local SEO. If you think there is something we forgot let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you’re ready to take your online reputation seriously fill out the form below and we’ll let you know how your online reputation looks. Learn more about our Local SEO Services.