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Earning online reviews for your local business is as important as ever before. Not only does having a consistent stream of reviews improve your online presence, but it also gives potential customers reasons to choose your business to fulfill their needs. Reading positive reviews online can be a critical final step, or huge missed opportunity, to turn customer leads into phone calls, appointment bookings, or purchases.

There are three key elements to implementing a comprehensive review strategy, and we’ll dive into each to give you a thorough understanding of what it takes to earn more visibility for your business online.

Promoting & Asking For Reviews

You can set yourself up for success by showing that your business welcomes reviews online. Creating a simple review flyer, stating where people can go to review you and your contact information, can help remind your valued customers to share their experience online. Display this flyer in a high traffic area of your office, like the entrance or front desk, and keep them handy to give to customers as they’re leaving. That way, they’ll be encouraged to take action since the experience is still fresh in their minds.

It’s also important to train your staff, especially those who are customer-facing, to ask for reviews and answer any questions about them. Most satisfied customers would be happy to leave you a stellar online review, so simply asking them at the end of their experience is a great place to start. To reinforce your efforts, you can also do the following:

  • Follow up with an email, thanking customers for their service and providing them with links to your local review profiles.
  • Encourage your customers to follow you on Facebook, and share links to your local review profiles.
  • Requesting reviews during a follow-up phone call.

Remember, building your review profile takes time, and not every customer will leave a review. The most important thing is identifying opportunities, and beginning to build a solid foundation of great reviews.

Use Your Website as a Resource

Your website is an invaluable tool to promote your review platforms. Adding a review icon or badge to a visible portion of your homepage provides returning customers with an easy outlet to leave feedback for your business. You can also create a blog post or separate page on your website with instructions about how to leave reviews on different platforms such as Google, Facebook, or Yelp.

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Displaying review icons in a visible portion of your website provides users with an easy way to leave a review.

You can also publish your reviews on your website to showcase your excellent customer service. However, it’s required that you get the reviewers’ permission before sharing their feedback public, and platforms have different policies about repurposing reviews, so be sure to check on this before taking action.

Responding To Reviews

No matter what the review says, it’s important to take the time to to respond to the reviewer in a timely manner. A good rule of thumb is to show gratitude for the positive reviewer, and be proactive in making things right for the negative reviewer. Below are some general instructions for responding to each type of review.

Positive Reviews

  1. Thank the reviewer for their review, and reference their specific comment or feedback.
  2. Demonstrate appreciation and gratitude, and let them know you look forward to seeing them again soon.

Taking the time to write a quick response to your happy customers can go a long way, as it can keep them coming back, and encourage potential customers to choose your business.

Negative Reviews

  1. It’s important to have the manager or owner of the business respond to the review, in a prompt and timely fashion.
  2. Thank the reviewer for their feedback, and then apologize for the specific experience referenced in their review.
  3. Note the steps you’ve taken to prevent the issue from happening again. This requires determining if this issue was an isolated incident or ongoing occurrence. You can do this by speaking to your staff members and reading past reviews.
  4. Include your name and contact information, inviting the reviewer to reach out to you to discuss the issue further.

By replying to negative reviews quickly and starting an offline conversation, you’re showing how much you value your customers and your commitment to improving your business. This proactive approach may also encourage the reviewer to give your business another chance.

The SEO Benefits of Online Reviews

Having online user reviews of your business, products, or services also benefits your search engine rankings. Some of the advantages of a diverse review profile are:

  • Unique Content = Better Rankings: When your business receives fresh, user-generated content on review platforms, Google will recognize you as a trusted and authoritative in your niche. This will increase your likelihood of appearing in local organic search results.
  • Increased Clickthroughs & Website Traffic: Customer reviews on review sites and social media often include a link to your site on your listing. When you have a decent profile of reviews on one of these platforms, users are much more likely to visit your website. Having a variety of clickthroughs from different review sites benefits your SEO rankings.
  • Reviews From The Web: A recent update from Google is now including consumer-generated reviews in the Knowledge panel. Having reviews on a variety of channels can now easily be seen by searchers, and adds more value to your individual listing.
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‘Reviews from the web’ provide users with more insight into your business

As users rely on consumer-generated content more and more, having an effective online review strategy is a critical aspect in your local marketing strategy. It’s never too early to begin building your local review profile, to show your customers and the search engines the excellent service you provide.

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