According to a recent report from Google, 30% of all its mobile searches are local. Many of these searches will return what’s referred to as a local pack. These packs sit above traditional organic listings, which are pushed entirely out of view. They contain a map and a list of businesses with general information on location and hours, plus photos or a call button. Guess what else is there? Yup, a star rating reviews. If you click on a business name, you can view the full user reviews left on Google.
Obviously, a business can benefit hugely from having a listing in a local pack on Google. Reviews can help you get there. Signs are that they are becoming increasingly important in determining the engine’s local rankings. However, reviews don’t just matter on Google. Users can leave reviews all over the web, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to use them to your advantage.
Follow these tips to build online reviews for your business.
Have a Strategy in Place
Determine how you’re going to let your customers know where to leave a review. Some businesses make printed cards or handouts to leave with clients. These often have URLs and/or instructions for leaving a review. Other businesses have signs or stickers advertising their preferred review platform. You can also consider following up with a phone call or an email after services are completed. Remember to let reviews flow in naturally. It looks bad if you get too many at once. And never, under any circumstances, write fake reviews for your business.
Mix it Up
Try to keep your review profile diverse. This will ensure that you always have a pool of reviews should some of them get lost or removed, which can happen from time to time. It’s also natural. Think about it: a bunch of reviews in a single place might look a little suspicious. Ideally, you’ll let your customers leave reviews wherever they feel comfortable, but it’s okay to suggest a few preferred places. When making suggestions, keep in mind where your customers are online and which platforms may have the biggest benefit for your business. Generally speaking, Google will be in the mix. Depending on your business, though, you may also want to consider alternatives like TripAdvisor and Citysearch. Do some research on your competitors to come up with some ideas.
Be Aware of Guidelines
You should always be aware of review guidelines for any of the platforms you’re using. For example, Yelp does not allow you to solicit reviews. Most guidelines are designed to remove illegitimate or inappropriate reviews. Moz has a handy list of links to guidelines for most major platforms here.
Chances are good that you’ll get a bad review or two. After all, you can’t please everyone all the time. You should always respond to negative reviews. Thank the reviewer for their comments and let them know how you plan to address the issues raised. It’s also helpful to respond to positive reviews from time to time. It shows you’re actively engaged with your customers online and value their feedback.
Get in the Game
If you’re not paying to your reviews, now is the time to start. They’ll probably become more important in the future, so it will pay to be proactive now.