How to Get the Most Out of Your Business’ Online Reputation
Online reviews are 12x more trusted than descriptions that come from manufacturers, Sherry Bonelli writes from SMX West.
In today’s competitive local search market, it’s important for businesses to stand out from their competition. One way to do that is by showing off your 5-star online reputation. 91 percent of people read local online reviews, so whether you like it or not, your company’s reviews — or lack of reviews — are getting noticed, and purchasing decisions are often being made based on those reviews.
In a recent presentation given by Thomas Balantyne at the SMX West 2017 conference in San Jose, CA, online reviews are 12x more trusted than descriptions that come from manufacturers.
This means that an online review strategy should be a larger part of your digital marketing plan.
However, for many business owners, online reviews are a new concept and getting reviews is not considered a top business priority. To stay ahead, this mentality needs to change. Here are some reasons why it’s crucial for businesses to get on the review bandwagon and not only get 5-star reviews from their customers but also show off and leverage those reviews to potential buyers to help convert browers into customers.
The Local Search Market is Maturing and Reviews Can Help You Rank Higher
With the Google Local Pack down to showing only three local businesses (and sometimes only two listings with one paid-for listing depending on your location and industry) and online directory listings often dominating the rest of the first page of search results on Google, it’s now almost impossible for a local business to show up on page one of Google local search results.
Additionally, a business’ reviews are front and center showing up prominently on the Google Local Pack and in search engine results.
Online reviews can also help your local search rankings. According to the Local SEO Guide of local ranking factors, getting Google reviews can positively impact how your site ranks on Google.
Proactively Get Reviews and Promote Those Reviews
Additionally, it’s more important than ever to proactively get online reviews from your happy customers. In a study by BrightLocal, it was found that 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review for a business if asked to. This means that there’s a huge opportunity for your local business to get great reviews from existing customers – if you simply ask.
When asking for reviews, just make sure that you vary the review sites you’re asking customers to leave reviews on. For instance, some days ask them to leave reviews on Google, the next day ask for reviews on Yelp, the following day request reviews be left on Foursquare, etc. (If you suddenly get a lot of reviews on Yelp, they may consider those reviews suspicious and suppress them from view.)
There are a few ways to do this: put a link to your Google My Business page in the signature of every email you send out and ask for feedback about your business, make a post on your social media channels and ask customers for Facebook reviews, send an email to recent customers and provide several links directly to your company’s review site pages so they can choose which site to leave a review about your business on (Caution: Do this slowly. Don’t send an email to your entire list of customers at one time), use online reputation marketing software (like Reputation Loop or Get 5 Stars) to make it even easier to monitor and solicit positive reviews (and better manage negative reviews that may be left about your business) — and more.
Once you start getting high reviews, it’s time to promote and show off those reviews to help build trust with potential customers. Create social media posts that quote a customer’s 5-star review of your business or create social media covers that tout your great reviews.
Mention your great reviews on your company’s sales material, on TV commercials, feature a review in a print ad you run in your local newspaper, post several reviews on your company’s website, etc. Showing off your 5-star reputation is not only smart, but it also helps build trust and authority for people that are searching for your type of local business. Make Getting Online Reviews a Regular Part of Your Business Getting online reviews is not a “one-and-done” type of thing. You must talk to all your employees about the importance of giving your customers a great experience and then ask those customers for reviews. This mentality needs to be a part of your everyday business strategy. The more positive reviews you get, the better you look in the eyes of potential customers and on the search engines. So make reviews a priority each and every day.
**Sherry Bonelli is the Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal. She leads BrightLocal’s Research & Content programs and champions the needs of their SEO Agency and SMB customers. Having worked in digital marketing since 1998, Sherry
has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing along with numerous digital marketing certifications. In her “spare” time she is a volunteer mentor for the SCORE East Central Iowa Chapter where she coaches small businesses on how to use digital marketing effectively. Sherry frequently gives workshops and speeches on digital marketing topics to local business owners. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.