Customer reviews are one of the main ranking factors for effective local SEO presence, and for converting potential searchers into customers. Once customers have found you in the search results pages, the absolute convincing factor that gets them to click on your website is your reviews. If your company’s Google reviews show an average of 4.5 stars and 25 customer reviews, you’re in great stance. BUT, if your competitor has 50 reviews with an average of 5 stars, you still have some work to do.
Key points to keep in mind about online reviews:
- They strongly affect how companies are ranked in Google’s local search results.
- They strongly affect which search results websites get clicked by the searcher.
- They strongly affect customers’ decisions about buying.
Positive Reviews Are Great for Business
Positive online customer reviews offer convincing social proof that your business is dependable and provides quality, trustworthy goods and services. With good reviews, you will have a revolving door of customers coming through to do business with you. The fact is, prospective customers will almost always read your company’s reviews, and compare them to your competitor’s. People consider reviews to be honest and unbiased, different from how they may feel about what you mention about yourself on your website or your social profiles. If they see that you have 10 reviews and all 10 are highly rated stars with strong endorsement message, that’s a powerful indication that you can be trusted. The more customers see you as trustworthy, the higher likely that they’ll make contact and do business.
Review Placement in Local Search Results Is Important
Any positive online review is beneficial; however, only the reviews posted in certain places affect how you rank with Google’s local search results. The reviews you get on your Google+ Local page is obviously the most important. Reviews on other authoritative sites, like Yelp, also have impact. Reviews of your company left on social media sites, blogs, forums, and less respected sites tends to carry less weight. That doesn’t mean those reviews don’t have value, though, because local customers may still see them and decide to do business with you.
How Google Analyze Your Business Reviews
It’s important to remember that the content of customer’s reviews, and the details about the reviewer, can be viewed by anybody who looks at your Google+ Local page. By default, reviews are sorted by how useful they are, as determined by Google. They do this by examining the reviewer, the review length, and the number of people who clicked to indicate that the review was helpful. Google+ Local Customer Reviews on your Google+ Local page are the most important, because Google thinks they can be trusted more than reviews left elsewhere on the web. And the Google+ reviews are the ones most searchers will see, because they’re linked to the search results pages.
How to get reviews
How you get your reviews matters. If you go about getting them in ways that go against Google’s best practices, you’ll do more harm than good. If you try to buy positive reviews, you put yourself at risk for major trouble.
Here are some safe ways to get reviews from your customers:
- Simply ask new and existing customers when they’re in your business, make some phone calls, or send an email.
- Create a “Review Us” link on an obvious place on your website.
- Display banners and signs with a review URL at your place of business.
- Put the review URL on your sales receipts, business cards, and any other documents seen by your customers.
- Also include a small flyer with the review URL to go with things that you mail or give to customers.
Ask customers to leave 2-3 sentences that specify the product or service they’ve received. The content within a customer review has a great deal of SEO value. For example: “These guys did a great job” is good, but “These guys are the best dentist in Atlanta. They did amazing job with my smile.” – a more detailed review like this, with keywords, has 10x more of local SEO value.
Never under any circumstances offer an incentive for a positive review. Google says you can ask people for reviews, but you are not permitted to pay or otherwise compensate someone for a review. You also have to careful how you ask for reviews, as many forms of solicitation are prohibited by reviews sites.
Don’t assume that just because you did a good job, the reviews will come flowing in. They don’t, no matter how much you think your customers love you. Most people are unacquainted with leaving online reviews and won’t do so unless they are asked. Although, if they’re upset with a company they might leave a negative review. Don’t be afraid to ask for a positive review, and make it easy for the customer to do so. Give out cards with simple instructions for leaving a review. If you don’t ask, you won’t get positive reviews. Simple as that.
Getting positive reviews can involve lots of moving parts, but it’s critical for your business that you get them. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about getting them. It’s especially important that the first few reviews are good ones, with a reasonable amount of text, as they will lead the ones that follow. You might decide this whole process is important enough to leave up to a local SEO professional to handle.