It’s hard to obtain online reviews about a business. This is not because your business isn’t good at what it does, but because you’re asking someone to go out of their way to benefit you.
Online review signals (review quantity, velocity, diversity etc) are one of the ranking factors for the local pack (listings under the map on the first page of the Google search results) and local organic positions on the search result pages, as reported in the Moz 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors.
It’s hard for any business to get positive and genuine (NEVER fake reviews by asking friends/family/colleagues to leave a review for you) reviews online. Which is why if you actively have a strategy in place to obtain reviews, you’re more likely to stand out from competitors.
67% of Consumers are Influenced by Online Reviews
– Dan Hinckley for Moz 2015
Any positive reviews you can get online are a benefit to your online reputation. Whether they’re on Google, Facebook or another third-party review website. However, for this post we want to solely concentrate our focus on Google My Business reviews, due to their potential impact on your SEO success.
So, the question is, how can you go about driving more online reviews to your Google My Business listing? Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling...
1. Ask for a Google My Business Review (in Person!)
It’s easier said than done when it comes to asking for a Google review. But it is probably one of the most effective strategies out there. Asking in person will have a higher success rate than virtually any other method.
7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they're asked to
- BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2016
It’s a good time to ask for a review when you know your business has done a great job at satisfying a customer/client. The sooner you can ask for the review, the better, as the experience will be fresh in their mind.
Plus, it’s also worth noting that Google promotes that you ask clients for reviews. And don’t forget to say thank you and be appreciative if you have the opportunity to.
2. Provide a ‘How to Leave a Google Review’ Handout
With Google My Business reviews, you do have to sign in to Google to leave a review. This is often seen as an extra hurdle the customer/client must jump through to leave the review. It can be off-putting however you do have the opportunity to make this process easier by guiding them through it.
At White Chalk Road we will help clients put together a ‘Please leave us a review’ handout which they can email or physically hand to customers to guide the customer through the process of leaving a review.
3. Provide a Direct Link to Leave a Review
For example: https://goo.gl/RvQw13 will take you to the review section for White Chalk Road.
You can either pop the above link into the body of an email, link it in your email signature or even print it out to pass on directly to customers. Get creative and think outside of the box.
4. Automated Review Management Systems
There are several automated review management systems which will do the leg work for you. Naturally there will be a cost involved in this option, however, it may be more viable for your business.
These review services automate the process of collecting feedback from your clients and prompting those happy reviewers to leave reviews on third-party review sites.
Some services to consider include:
5. Ask on Social Media
If you’re active on social media, it doesn’t hurt to pop up a post to ask customers to take 5-10 minutes to leave a review. Scheduling a post in like this across all your channels once a month isn’t hard to do and who knows how many reviews you might get out of it.
You could also share past reviews on social media to give others a hint and show how much a review means to your business.
6. Email Campaigns
For a lot of small to medium businesses, email marketing is under-utilised. Even if you don’t have an in-house marketing department or manager, utilising services like MailChimp can be a great way to set up email campaigns.
In MailChimp for free, you can create a first purchase automation campaign, which will automatically send an email to a user asking for a review.
Or you can simply have a template designed and ready to go which you can tweak before sending onto a customer. The more you can personalise this email, the better the response you’ll have.
Also, don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email if you don’t get a response. We’d recommend only 1 follow up email and also don’t leave it too long – 4-5 days after the initial email is ideal. Sometimes emails can be easily overlooked or accidentally deleted.
7. Create a Review Station
If you have a physical store/office which your customers visit, then why not have an iPad or laptop available for users to fill out a review right there on the spot.
However, we must recommend being careful with this one, as sometimes Google and other review sites can detect and penalise businesses for having a lot of reviews submitted from the same IP address.
8. Respond to all Reviews
It is essential you respond to all negative reviews. When you respond to these reviews, it must be diplomatic and professional. Remember when responding to negative feedback, that everyone else will be reading your response, not just the person who left the review.
It is good practice to get into the habit of replying to all reviews. In fact, Google recommends responding to all reviews. Just saying thank you for a positive review shows your appreciation to the reviewer and shows everyone else that you genuinely care, listen and engage with your customers. This will encourage more feedback.
9. Offer Employee Incentives, not Customer Incentives
Firstly, don’t offer customers an incentive for a review. This is a very grey-area and one that is better to stay away from than get involved with.
By incentivising customers to leave a review it looks more like a bribe. The fact of the matter is, the reviewer doesn’t get a whole lot out of leaving an online review. But hopefully, they’re so satisfied with their service/product that they feel it’s their way of saying thanks to your business.
On the other hand, employers can incentivise staff to proactively ask (see point 1) for customer reviews. This will not only help obtain the business more reviews (and communicate its importance to staff) but it’ll also encourage employees to do their jobs even better because a satisfied customer is more likely to respond to a review request.
10. Be Awesome
This goes without saying, if you’re good at what you do, customers will be happy and then asking for a review will be easy.
A good motto to go by in business is to ‘underpromise and overdeliver’ whether it means you finish a project before the deadline, deliver their purchase early, perhaps throw in a couple of extra perks into the mix or simply wow them with the best customer service they have ever experienced.
Think about your own experiences as a customer, what makes you happy and entices you to leave a positive review?
Google My Business is a free service provided by Google which all business owners should be utilising to its full extent. An intentional Google review acquisition strategy will help you improve your online reputation and reach.
Just remember, if it’s hard for you to get reviews, it is just as hard for competitors to get reviews. Patience, persistence and being the best you can be will help you succeed.
To get on the road to SEO Local and online marketing success, make sure you get in touch with our friendly team today.
By Casey Bryan.