Being found online is tough. No Question. But been found online and getting new clients to select your business over your competition is even harder. Especially when there are very few differences between the services you offer. While many business owners leave it down to chance, there are ways that you can dramatically improve the chances of your business winning those new clients ahead of your competition.
One of the most powerful ways to set yourself apart from your competition is by highlighting your positive customer reviews online.
So Why Are Online Reviews So Effective?
Online Reviews build trust. Whether your customers are raving about what your product has done for them, how the results from your service changed their life or just how friendly and approachable the staff were. These reviews come from a third party not from the business owner, not from a copywriter. They come from the heart and are often filled with positive sentiment and emotion that truly connects with people who are in the same circumstances the reviewer was in prior to engaging with your business.
68% Of People Say Positive Reviews Make Them Trust A Local Business More (source)
So people trust and read online reviews but that isn’t the only reason why online reviews are so important.
The number of Online reviews you have is considered to be one of the major influences on how well your business ranks in local search. You can see how many reviews you have by Googling your business name. If you have any it will show underneath your website. If you don’t have any, it will simply say leave a review (You can also check your reviews by logging into your Google+ dashboard and clicking on the reviews tab and that will show you).
Where Can You Use Your Google Reviews To Increase Conversion?
If someone in your locality searches for the services that you provide, then your star rating is front and centre for everyone to see. In order to get a star rating on Google+ you need to have 5 reviews. Once you get those five reviews, then your star rating will appear within a few days, although sometimes it may take a few weeks.
In order to get your Google+ reviews to show on your PPC ads you need to enable location extension in Adwords. You can find the full list of benefits and instructions here. You can also use seller ratings.
If you have reviews and testimonials, you can help search engines understand them with schema markup. In short you provide the search engine with specific code that it can use to identify reviews. Having reviews displayed on your search results won’t necessarily impact your rankings, but it does improve indexing and can increase click-through rates and conversions to your website (See Google’s support page, Reviews Rich Snippets for details.)
The Importance Of Reviews For SEO?
The more reviews you get the better your chances of being displayed in the top 3 of the new Google snack map. Why? – to get a little technical here each review is a 3rd party citation for your business and services.
Google always wants to know that it will send its clients (searchers) to the most trustworthy and reputable search results. If your business has 12, 18 or 25 positive reviews from users in the catchment area of your business then you stand a much higher chance of being listed in the top 3. So if you have a better star rating then your competition you will be seen as trusted and win the business.
In essence getting reviews for your local business on Google+ works two fold.
- It is a key factor in the ranking of your business in local search.
- It increases the social proof of your business and thus your conversion rate.
Tip: Google loves fresh, unique content, and user reviews are a great way of getting that new content. The more up to date reviews are, the more relevant they are to both users and clients so keep it current!
Where Is The Best Place To Get Clients To Leave Reviews?
Google+ is the key directory where your business should get reviews as this has the biggest impact on search however there are other 3rd party review sites that can influence both potential buyers and your performance in search.
Some of these key directories we mentioned in our previous post about the importance of local directories in search, in short there are directories relative to your niche that have potential clients and aggregate and share reviews about your business online. Having a great reputation across a plethora of these sites will be a huge advantage in helping clients overcome scepticism and also to improve the authority of those individual listings of your business and the relevance to your position on Google maps.
What If There Are Bad Reviews?
Ok, let’s start by saying that not everyone is perfect and on occasion for whatever reason things do go wrong resulting in a client not getting the service they deserve.
When this happens. internet savvy clients are likely to vent their anger by going online, finding the first portal they come across and sharing their discontent with everyone.
And while no business owner wants bad reviews, Revoo suggested that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad reviews. Especially if the business has reached out to attempt to rectify the situation.
To get more information on how to deal with a negative review read this post on Reevoo.
How Can You Improve Your Reviews?
The best way to improve your ratings is to make sure that your customers receive excellent customer service. Happy customers attract more happy customers, who are willing to rate you well and tell others about your business or products.
In short, rather than fretting over one bad review reach out to the reviewer express your concern and ask them to contact you directly so you can help solve the problem. To potential clients it shows that you care, to the reviewer you are taking ownership of the situation, attempting to take the situation out of the public arena and also leaving the ball in their court.
Even better than simply reacting to negative reviews when they appear, a positive and proactive approach to your online reputation and reviews is far more favourable.
After all one bad review from a total of one review is BAD. One bad review amongst 10, 15 or 20 positive reviews is not an issue at all.
Therefore make it an ongoing business concern to ask clients to leave reviews about your business, monitor that feedback and be proactive about resolving issues raised by your customers with an outcome that reasonably satisfies all parties, including you, as and when it happens.
Note: There are filters set into the review sites that are there to monitor any suspicious activity. Going from no reviews to twenty reviews overnight may alert the filters and could result in genuine reviews being removed from your listing.
Tips For Getting Reviews And Making Them Count.
- Be a Great Business – The best way to get positive feedback is to make sure that your customers receive excellent customer service. Happy customers attract more happy customers, who are willing to rate you well and tell others about your business or products.
- Ask for the review – A lot of businesses believe that reviews will appear on their own. The truth is that most people who have a positive experience need to be asked to leave a review as they don’t understand how important it is for your business.
- Send an email to the user asking for the review shortly after they have experienced your services and are feeling the positive impact of the results you have provided. The sooner the better.
- Send a follow up email. People have great intentions but often don’t realise how important to your business these reviews can be. A gentle reminder can increase the number of reviews dramatically.
- Don’t worry about getting reviews on all the websites that your business is listed in as this will prove too difficult to manage. Focus on those sites that are deemed authoritative by the search engines. Yell.com, thomsonlocal.com, 192.com
- Make the process as simple as possible – Don’t ask the user to jump through to many hoops in order to leave their feedback, make it simple and unintrusive.
Other Ways You Can Leverage Your Reviews To Help You Get More Clients
Earlier in the post we discussed how you can use reviews in search to elevate you above the competition but what if, as with many of our clients, customers send reviews and testimonials to you in the form of letters or cards or gifts?
- Take a photo of the cards and gifts and publish them on Social media.
- Leave them in your reception area so everyone can see.
- Reach out and thank the customer who left the review and ask them if they would be as kind to share their message with the world by adding it to an online review site.
- Add the reviews to your website.
- If you can, get a photo of the client and add their testimonial to the image.
- Put several of these testimonials together and create a small slide show video which could be added to your website and social media.
- Add a selection of reviews to your newsletter
- Add the testimonials to the footer of your email.
There are many creative ways to leverage reviews to position you as an expert and a provider of excellent service but ultimately it comes down to asking for them and marketing them so that everyone, including new and existing customers, can see the great work that you are doing.
It’s not always easy to get reviews, but focus on what the reviews will give you: A business with a fantastic reputation online, lots of user generated content for the search engines to boost your rankings and best of all, you will be building a referral business based on trust.
Do ratings and reviews affect your choices when it comes to working with someone? Let us know!