Having excellent online reviews is key to the continuity of your business as well as its reputation. Studies show that local search ranking factors are extremely important for developing a loyal clientele and attracting more potential customers. Most people look online for reviews about a particular product or service, so by improving your customer review profile will get you higher search visibility and more profits. If you’re already interested, keep reading to find out more details about:
- Why it’s not a good idea to flag reviews to Google because these will only be inspected for offensive terms, not actually for how authentic they really are
- Why it is not a good idea to have thousands of reviews on your profile while your competitors only have just a couple of hundreds. This looks fishy in the eyes of Google and customers
- Why it’s not a good idea to let customers post reviews using your business Wi-Fi connection (the one which you offer for free in your establishment). This will basically make Google think you are posting reviews by yourself
Having good reviews is also one of the most influential tools when it comes to local search. Surveys show that approximately 13% of this influence is shared by reviews signals, 10% by behavioral signals while social signals influence with just 4%.
More surveys have been dedicated to finding out how important online reviews are for a particular business. Some of these surveys have found out that:
- Almost 50% of customers read online reviews before buying or visiting an establishment, in comparison with just 33% back in 2015
- Just about 9-10% of customers forget or don’t want to read online reviews, in comparison with almost 30% back in 2010
- Around 5% of consumers mention that they don’t care about online reviews, in comparison with 11% back in 2015
- More than 91% of total consumers take the time to read multiple reviews online
- Approximately 84% of customers are greatly influenced and trust online reviews before making a purchase
In other words, you have to treat online reviews very seriously because they can directly influence the prosperity of your business.
Online reviews are probably your most powerful marketing tool
Back in the days, people used to get information about places or products by word of mouth. Nowadays, everyone can post an online review and basically spread his opinion with the world. These reviews act as word of mouth in digital format and they remain as a testimony for the quality of a product or service. Now you probably see why it is so important to maintain a good customer review profile and do your best to obtain high-quality reviews from your customers.
Having great reviews doesn’t only increase your rankings in local searches, but they can also help your customers trust you more. Developing a great business relationship with your clients ensures the continuity of your business and makes you stand out from the crowd against the competition.
Learn how to get more Google reviews
Customers usually leave reviews when they are strongly influenced either positively or negatively. For example, if they have had a great experience at your restaurant or coffee shop, they usually leave a good review. If their experience was negative for whatever reason, most of them will leave a bad review as a way of revenge. Business owners usually don’t have much control over this process, but as long as you provide excellent services and products, you have nothing to worry about.
Studies show that also around 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review if they are asked to. It is important to know when and how to ask for this small contribution from their behalf. Most business owners use certain incentives such as discounts for the upcoming purchases. You can get as creative as you want with incentives, but make sure you always follow the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) Endorsement Guide. This guide basically instructs you on what is ethical or not when it comes to incentivizing your reviews. Additionally, you need to comply with Google’s policies too, so have a look at that before coming up with a rewarding scheme for clients who leave reviews.
Just to give you a heads up on what is considered to be common sense and what is plainly not permitted, Google believes that the ideal reviews are unbiased and completely honest. For example, your employers are not allowed to leave reviews about your workplace and you shouldn’t offer money or goods to people just to post a positive review about your business. As you probably would imagine, taking shortcuts can only propel you so far, so try to run an honest business and you have nothing to worry about.
Try using dedicated reviews websites
There are many other places where people can leave reviews about your business and can drastically influence the prosperity of your establishment, besides Google Reviews. For example, you can take a look at industry-specific websites which are very popular and where people regularly post their opinions and experiences. If your company is in the travel or catering industry, a lot of your customers might leave reviews on TripAdvisor. In a similar fashion, if you run an interior design business, Houzz is also a popular website where people gather to leave interesting and useful reviews. Try to start by investigating the most popular niche sites and use those which meet your preferences and needs.
Use Facebook reviews too
There’s no need to emphasize the importance of using Facebook for getting reviews on your business. Almost every citizen of this planet has a Facebook account and it is very easy for them to post their experience online. Make sure your Facebook page allows reviews by turning on the Show Reviews option from the Settings panel. By doing so, you are giving the opportunity to post online reviews to potentially hundreds and thousands of people worldwide. After you have experienced with Facebook reviews and you want to move to something else, check out Yelp and Yahoo! Reviews too.
Be mindful of where you collect reviews for your business
There are a couple of mistakes business owners can make when it comes to collecting reviews and they usually happen by accident. For example, try not to collect reviews using an API because this might make Google believe that you are posting reviews from the same IP address and this will definitely raise suspicions. Instead, try to set up a completely different review page which directs people to a special review platform where they can share their thoughts. This will avoid common tech pitfalls and prevent Google from thinking that some of your reviews are not genuine.
In a similar fashion, it is a bad idea to ask your customers to leave a review about your business while they are at your restaurant or coffee shop (or any other establishment you might have). In most cases, your clients will probably use the business Wi-Fi connection you make available for them and Google will think that you are reviewing your own business multiple times. It is better for customers to leave a review once they are out of the Wi-Fi connection shared by your business.
Do not try to post fake reviews
This is one of the most important pieces of advice you can get. Many people try to use shortcuts and simply post a couple of reviews from fake profiles, just to get the ball rolling and attract some more customers to their establishment. However, this is a very risky move as if Google finds out that even just one review is fake, it will automatically put your business on a blacklist and even remove it from the internet. It might appear a smart move to fake it till you make it, but in this case, it is wiser to be patient and let genuine reviews come naturally, building trust with Google and your clients as well.
Don’t try to amass a large number of reviews in a small period of time
It is almost impossible for an establishment to accumulate hundreds or even thousands of reviews in just a couple of months in a natural way, especially when the other businesses have about a hundred or so. This looks totally fake and unauthentic from all angles and it can raise suspicions with Google and even your clientele. Instead, let the reviews come slowly and steadily, building a great customer review profile in an organic way.
Studies show that reviews older than three months are also less likely to be taken into account. People always want fresh information which is as recent as possible. Therefore, if you let your customers post reviews regularly, your business has a higher chance of showing up in local searches. You might also want to be on the lookout for Google’s Local Guides who are people specialized in posting online reviews. The reviews of these individuals carry a lot of weight and might actually provide sound advice on what to improve within your business or want to emphasize.
Try your best to ask customers for genuine reviews in an ethical way
There’s nothing wrong with asking some of your customers to post a review about the experience they had with your website. However, don’t offer products or cash in return because this is against Google’s review policy and it is totally unethical. Instead, you could train some of your salesmen to ask customers for reviews after they have bought a product or used a service. You can also put small reminders in packages or products you sell, directing customers to a separate review page where they can share their experience with your establishment.
As long as you are not asking for the review in an unethical way and you do your best to remain polite and trustworthy, customers (especially loyal ones) will have nothing against posting a good review on your website which in turn will raise the reputation of your business and make you more visible in local searches.
Steady wins the race
This is true when it comes to reviews as well. It is important for your business to get a constant flux of reviews on a regular basis. This will make your establishment look trustworthy in the eyes of Google and your clientele. In other words, don’t try to accumulate dozens of reviews this week and nothing for the upcoming month because this can raise suspicions. Instead, if you have received a few reviews every week and accumulate both very old and fresh reviews, your reputation looks much more authentic and organic. Bottom line is to avoid trying to “speed up” things, just to make a buck quicker. Let the reviews run their natural course and your clientele will trust you more.
Be polite when dealing with negative reviews
It is normal for businesses of all sizes to receive the occasional negative review from one or more customers. This can happen for various reasons and it can actually be true in some cases. If you stumble upon a negative review, it is important to remain calm and collected and to answer it politely. First of all, make sure you have read the review thoroughly (even if it comes from a seriously angry customer who might use one bad word or two) and try to respond to it with a “win-win” mentality. Ask how you could help this customer to have a better experience in the future. Ask what you can do to fix his problem and make him change his opinion and subsequently his review on your business.
By answering to all negative reviews you get, you show your customers that you care for your business and their satisfaction levels. You are not just a random company trying to get rich quickly by selling poor-quality products and not standing behind your claims.
In fact, studies show that in some cases, a negative review is a blessing in disguise because it presents one or more flaws within your company. This, in turn, might help you solve the problems mentioned by clients, so you get better customer reviews afterward. That’s why it is important to read the negative reviews thoroughly and to establish if it is really your fault or the customer for not using the product properly.
Additionally, surveys also show that businesses that have a fair amount of negative reviews actually make the company more credible in the eyes of the consumers. If you have absolutely no negative review at all, this might look like “too good to be true” and it might discourage potential buyers. By having negative reviews and by responding to them properly, you can actually boost the exposure and credibility of your particular establishment.
Choose your words carefully when responding to bad comments
As mentioned earlier, it is important to address a negative review properly because your response will not only be visible to the person who posted the negative review, but also to the entire community of customers and potential buyers. As a good rule of thumb, avoid “copy-paste” answers because this will make customers even angrier as you’re not treating their opinions with utmost care. No one likes to be answered in that fashion, it actually makes you think you’re talking with a robot.
Instead, you can simply apologize for the misunderstanding or mistake and offer to help. Most customers are open to changing their reviews and giving you a 5-star one if you cooperate and take care of their needs. Additionally, remember that having a decent amount of negative reviews on your products and services is actually a good thing because it makes your company more credible. It will also make the good reviews more authentic in the eyes of the great public.
Inappropriate reviews can be flagged and removed
In some cases, no matter what you do or say, some customers might be too difficult to deal with or they might post negative reviews full of insults and profanities. Google and other review platforms have a strict policy against such types of reviews and you can flag them to be removed from your customer review profile. Google usually checks the review for bad words and if they are found, it will be automatically eliminated. However, this doesn’t work for reviews you consider to be fake because the Google’s algorithms don’t look at the context. Other review platforms might also require you to provide proof that you think certain reviews are fake and as long as you can do that, you’re safe.
Learn a couple of tips and tricks on how to get reviews for your business in an ethical manner
As mentioned earlier, around 7 out of 10 customers are more than happy to leave a review if you ask them politely to do so. There are a number of ways you can ask for your clientele to share their experience and you can use them in the future to improve the customer review profile of your business. Here are just a few of them.
- Send your customers personalized emails where you share your gratitude for trying your products or services and asking for a genuine review in return.
- Offer business cards which contain the URL where your customers can leave reviews. Even better, use a QR Code they can scan with phone and go directly to the review page of your website.
- Be prompt when it comes to asking for reviews by sending an email or notification 2-3 days later after they make a purchase or visit your establishment. If you delay this process and send reminders a couple of weeks later, most customers might not even remember buying from you and what experience they had.
- Don’t try to make the process of posting a review overly complicated. Help your clientele by providing them with a single link they can click to go to the review page. Don’t ask them to log in to your website, a simple click is more than enough and sufficient for most customers to be encouraged to leave reviews.
We hope you found these tips useful in maintaining a customer review profile. Need help in keeping up a better reputation for your business? Contact us today!