Why Online Reviews Are Important & How to Get Them
Online reviews are really important for just about every business, whether product or service oriented. Not only do they have a physiological effect, but they also directly influence search engine ranking – they help you rank and they help you convert.
People like knowing what’s best. While getting referrals from friends and family is great, who are we kidding? This is the information age, calling up your friends and family to ask them about every purchase simply takes too much time. Online, you can cross-reference everything with 100’s of people, as fast as you can read. And it’s not all about star rating. A shallow or overly opinionated review doesn’t necessarily sway someone to stay clear. A professional response to a negative review can have more impact than just another 5 star. People understand that less than favorable situations can happen, how you handle it can show responsibility, care, and pride. Just make sure that, for the most part, your reviews are positive.
Search engine rankings are affected by reviews. It’s a pretty simple concept: if restaurant A has 20 1-star reviews, and restaurant B has 1,000 5-star reviews, which would seem more logical to rank for best restaurant? While that is a grossly simplified version on how search engines rank websites, the concept still applies as one of many search engine ranking mechanisms.
How to Get Online Reviews?
With all that being said, reviews are necessary. But how do we get them? Some services (particularly restaurants) are magnets to reviews – people just love talking about food. But for other services, they do not come in organically as fast as we would like, or never.
While assuming that you are actually good at what you do, there are a few (relatively painless) techniques that will bring you more positive reviews online:
- Build review-based profiles
- Asking them (no, really).
- Adding buttons to your website
- Implementing reputation management
- Improve with negative reviews/feedback
Without the profiles to review, you have no chance to get the reviews. Some must-have, review-based profiles are: Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare, Angie’s List, Insider Pages, Merchant Circle, and niche specific directories (i.e. Zagat).
Following up with your customer after the job is done is good for business, not pesky. You can subtly ask for reviews within a ‘Thank You for Your Patronage’ email, following the job. Make your customers feel appreciated and they are more likely to return the favor. If you are typically unsure about your customer satisfaction, there are web applications (i.e. GetFiveStars) that work to only promote the positive experiences.
You need to make reviewing as easy as possible. Providing quick links to your main, review-based directories is a great way to help encourage reviews. This can be achieved by adding a few ‘Review Us’ buttons on your website. I like to provide links to the directories that have the most impact and are the hardest to get (i.e. Google My Business, and Yelp). This will vary depending on your business.
As I mentioned earlier, some negative reviews are not detrimental to your business. But, it’s what you do with these reviews that make all the difference. This is where reputation management comes into play. For some businesses, reputation management doesn’t have to be a fancy process, but just one that monitors your reviews online. It can be as simple as adding a few Google Alerts (to monitor mentions of your company name) and checking your review-based profiles. Creating an excel sheet with the links to all your review-based profiles makes this a 5 minute process a couple times a week. When a negative review comes in, it’s best to respond promptly and only focus on the problem and the solution – leave emotion completely out of it.
I feel that this is overlooked way too much. Negative reviews are helpful to your business. When you are operating a business, you must take your ego out of it. You are providing a service for a customer, and the happier they are, the more successful you will be. If something negative is said that is within your control to change, take note of the feedback and consider a solution for the problem. Now, I’m not saying constantly adjust your process per unhappy customer. But, if you are noticing a lot of people complaining that your secretary is very rude and unprofessional on the phone, a simple conversation can fix that issue from reoccurring. Take a few notes from the lean startup business model, no company or process is ever developed perfect, feedback = success.
Reviews = Business Improvement + Search Engine Ranking = More Business
When it really comes down to it, online reviews are so much more than just a 1-dimensional means to get more customers online – they are an excellent resource for positive business development as well. Implementing these simple processes will help you improve your business, which will get you better reviews, leading to more business.