In the modern digital age, your online reputation matters immensely. All businesses should focus on creating a strong, positive online presence, but this is even more critical for multi-location businesses. In the past, customers searched their local paper or address book for nearby businesses that could handle their needs. Those days are long gone. Now, nearly half of all Google inquiries are searching for local information and 97% of people learn about a local company online first. To show up as a top search result and stand out as the obvious choice, your multi-location business needs powerful online reviews.
While the importance of online reviews is unquestionable, getting and managing online reviews is not a simple task. In this detailed guide to online reputation management, we explain the importance of reviews, how to get more reviews, how to manage reviews and the best ways to utilize your reviews.
Google Reviews are Impacting Your Business
In the past, people relied on advertising and personal recommendations to determine which products or services to choose. Now, customers are more skeptical than ever of advertising. A study by the American Association of Advertising Agencies found that only 4% of all consumers believe advertisers and marketers practice integrity. Instead, people now turn to search engines to locate and research local businesses.
Every single day, people are searching Google for a business like yours. According to SEO Tribunal 97% of people learn more about a local company via the internet. One of the first things many potential customers will see of your business is your online presence, and Google reviews are a major portion of your online presence.
Pew Research Center found that 82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time. Customers are seeking out online reviews to help them make buying decisions, so your Google reviews are either attracting or repelling your ideal customers.
Companies with low-star ratings or too few reviews are just pushing potential customers away. Customers seek out reviews to get an accurate picture of what to expect, so a lack of reviews makes your business hard to trust and will only push customers to look elsewhere. Few reviews or a majority of negative reviews impact your business by:
- Lowering your search rankings, therefore making you less visible to potential customers.
- Damaging your reputation so that potential customers do not trust your business.
- Making it more difficult to rebrand and appeal to new customers.
On the other hand, having many reviews and an overall high rating will help you attract customers and dominate your local market. Businesses need an average of 40 reviews before customers will believe their average star rating. Focusing on Google reviews will help your business gain the trust of potential clients and stand out against competitors as a clear choice. Positive reviews help your business by:
- Creating a positive reinforcement loop that expedites your growth.
- Improving your reputation so that consumers prefer your business over lower-rated competitors.
- Boosting your ranking in popular search engines. Many positive reviews are a signal to Google that your business is a top choice for the relevant search queries.
- Easy and cost-effective to maintain. It is much easier to maintain and continue to grow a positive reputation than it is to resolve a negative one.
How Online Reviews Impact SEO
Google reviews also impact your SEO or search engine optimization. In fact, online reviews are just as important to your SEO as your website quality and building citations. According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Obtaining quality Google reviews should be a top part of your overall SEO strategy. Getting reviews is not all that matters. Google recently confirmed that responding to reviews impacts SEO!
Specifically, online reviews affect your local SEO. Google officially stated that “Review count and score are factored into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.” Customer feedback plays a huge role in local SEO, which is absolutely crucial for multi-location businesses. Companies that are on top of their online reviews and review management will engage more customers and therefore position themselves better in top search engines.
Some of the top SEO benefits of online reviews include:
- They provide new, unique content for search engines. Search engines like original content that is regularly updated, and user reviews are a great form of unique content. UGC, including reviews, differentiates product pages in search results and makes it more likely you will rank higher.
- Shoppers search the product or business name with the word “review” after it. When you have many online reviews, your business is more likely to show up for that search query.
- Reviews can also increase your clickthrough rate. When you add reviews to your website, you can format the star rating to show up in search engine results. The addition of the star rating in rich snippets will actually boost click-through rates by 10-20%
- Increases the chance of ranking higher for long tail searches. People who write reviews often use similar language as those who search for the reviews, meaning that these reviews can help you business show up for long tail keywords as well.
SEO Considerations for Reviews
Adding reviews from other sites, like Google, greatly benefits the SEO of your business website. To ensure the maximum benefit, follow these guidelines:
- Place the reviews in text form in your website HTML to ensure proper indexation.
- You can place parts of the review on numerous pages, but the full review should only have one single page and one single URL.
- Features reviews on as many different pages of your site as possible to capitalize on long-tail traffic.
How Reviews Attract or Repel Customers
Your online reviews and reputation affect much more than your SEO and local search ranking. Online reviews impact the customer experience at every step. Here’s how:
- Awareness: The first step in a typical sales funnel is awareness. Since reviews impact your SEO, they make you more visible to shoppers.
- Consideration: After finding your business, shoppers must decide if they want to learn more about you. Your overall rating and the number of reviews you have will greatly impact how likely it is that customers will click to your website.
- Purchase: Online reviews greatly affect the purchase decision. Consumers rely on the information left by former customers to determine if they will follow through with the purchase.
- Post-purchase: Reviews are very helpful after purchases as well. When customers leave reviews after a purchase, they give your business important insight that can help you improve your operations and customer experience.
Why You Need to Online Review Notifications
Timeliness is critical when it comes to reviews. It is important to take action on all reviews, but especially on negative reviews. Kingsley Associates found that online reviews were not only important for renters, but 51% of potential residents expect to see management responses to all online reviews.
Responding to negative reviews shows that you care about your customers and their feedback, which is important for retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. You can also transform negative reviews into positive ones by having an appropriate and timely response. A negative review is a cry for help and many customers respond positively to the business addressing their concerns.
The best way to stay on top of your Google reviews is by ensuring your have review notifications on. To effectively manage your reviews, you need to have notifications for every review platform and location on. While you can manually get these notifications, our software makes it easy to review, manage, and respond to all reviews on one simple dashboard. With the power of our software at your fingertips, you can receive and respond to all real-time reviews on a single platform.
How to Respond to Both Positive and Negative Reviews for Each Location
Obtaining more positive reviews is only one important part of online reputation. The next step is to respond to reviews. Responding to reviews is critical for building customer relationships and trust. Pew Research found that 54% of Americans who read online reviews indicate that they pay more attention to extremely negative reviews when trying to make decisions. This means there is a huge potential for businesses to turn their negative reviews into a customer-acquisition tool. Potential customers specifically look at the negative reviews, so how you respond to them really matters.
Most customers look at review responses when they are researching a new business. Whether a review is good or bad, you should respond to it so the customer knows you are taking in their feedback and value their time. Additionally, your response is important for potential customers. By responding to reviews, you demonstrate your customer service and show how you can resolve different issues. You also show potential customers that you care and are willing to go the extra mile.
Positive reviews are quite easy to respond to and the process is even easier with our software that sends automated responses. Be sure to thank the customer for their review, include some personal touches, and encourage them to come back. Using our software, you can respond to all reviews from all locations in one place, and set up automated responses to ensure you never miss one.
Negative reviews are a bit more difficult to handle, but responding correctly is incredibly important. First, never respond to reviews when you are in a highly emotional state. Some customers leave strongly-worded negative reviews that are not entirely accurate. Responding to fire with fire only worsens your relationship with the customer and your reputation. Instead, make sure you cool down before responding to negative feedback. Some key tips for responding to negative reviews include:
- Always address the reviewer by name if a name is available.
- Use context from their individual experience to personalize the response. Nothing will be more frustrating to an upset customer than a generic reply from a business.
- Objectively analyze the review to determine if there were any shortcomings in your business that caused negative feedback.
- Be apologetic and empathize, regardless of if the customer is “right” or not.
- Accept responsibility and offer solutions.
- Move the conversation offline by providing a way to contact customer support.
- If you are able to resolve the issue, kindly ask the customer if they would be willing to alter or update their review.
The Best and Worst Ways to Generate Reviews
Reviews really matter for your business, so never leave them to chance. Getting more reviews is critical for boosting SEO, improving your online reputation, and attracting new customers. Unfortunately, simply doing a great job and hoping customers leave a review will not get you the number or quality of reviews you need. Pew Research Center found that a full 38% of Americans “never” leave reviews on products and services. According to Business 2 Community, customers are more likely to leave a review when they have had a bad experience. Leaving reviews to chance will lead you to have fewer reviews and a negative review bias that will not accurately reflect your business. Instead, you need to take steps to generate more reviews.
Ineffective Methods for Generating Reviews
There are many different methods you can implement to increase your Google review, but not all methods are created equally when it comes to getting more reviews. Let’s review some of the ineffective strategies to avoid when seeking more reviews.
Letting Reviews Happen Naturally
While just waiting for organic reviews to roll in sounds nice, it just won’t work. Letting reviews “happen naturally” is not recommended. Attract and Close had a client, DeAngelos Jewelry, who experienced this first-hand. DeAngelos had over 15 years of experience as a local jeweler, but less than 10 Google reviews total! After working with us to enhance their review strategy, DeAngelos now has nearly 600 Google reviews and continues to earn more on a daily basis.
Paying for Reviews
Paying for reviews may seem like a quick, easy solution for getting more reviews, but it is not one you should consider. You should absolutely never pay to get reviews. Paid reviews are quite easy to spot, and will only damage your credibility. If consumers notice suspicious reviews, like all generic positive reviews, they are unlikely to trust you or consider your business. Furthermore, paid reviews may even land you in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission.
Posting a Sign
Another method you should avoid is posting signs asking for reviews. Many businesses hang signs near the doors asking you to leave a review and rate their business. While this seems like another simple way to get more reviews, it just does not work. Why? Signs are impersonal, easy to miss, and easy to say no to. Posting signs may not hurt your business, but it is not an effective way to get more Google reviews from your customers.
Passing Out Flyers
Handing out flyers or cards after interacting with a customer is a slightly better way to encourage reviews. Doing so requires at least some personal interaction and gives the customer something to remind them of their experience. However, this method is still not very effective. Flyers or cards are quite easy to misplace, lose, and forget about. To really see a big response, you need to consider some of the methods in the next section.
The Top Methods for Generating More Reviews
Instead of focusing on outdated methods that just don’t work, you should implement some tried and true methods for generating reviews. When done properly, the methods below will encourage more reviews and ultimately help your online reputation.
Automated Review Requests
Many Attract and Close clients have had immense success in getting online reviews by using our powerful system. We connect our system to our clients’ CRM so that our software can automatically send out review requests. Automated requests ensure you never forget to send out messages. Additionally, you can send more messages quicker and do not need to train your team to do anything extra. This method is ideal for businesses who get many clients each day, or who have limited staff. The only downside with automatic requests is that they are not extremely personal. While we have had a lot of success with this method, there are some customers who are bound to ignore a generic request for a review.
Manually, Face to Face
As you might imagine, asking customers for a review face-to-face is absolutely the best method for getting more reviews. After serving your customer, simply ask them if they would be okay receiving an email or text link so they can leave you some feedback. If the customer agrees, immediately send the message.
Why is this method so effective? You are creating a personal connection with a customer and directly asking them for the feedback right after receiving the service. People are more likely to do something when asked, so asking customers in-person for a review is an effective way to get them to actually leave a review. A text or email reminder with a link reduces the friction of leaving a review as well.
Tips for Getting More Reviews
Asking for reviews in person and then sending a text reminder is one of the best strategies for getting more online reviews. However, how you complete the process will affect compliance rate. Here are some helpful tips for getting more reviews:
- Make it as easy as possible to leave reviews. Sending a text with a link to leave a Google review reduces one of the barriers to leaving reviews. Additionally, you should make it as easy as possible for people to leave reviews on your own website. Allow people to rate you out of a certain number for certain qualities as well as a space for a longer explanation. Do not require people to have an account to leave a review, you can simply ask that they leave their first name and email address on the review submission form.
- Offer incentives. In your post-purchase text or email, you can also offer a small incentive for those who leave an honest review. For example, you could provide customers with a discount coupon to use at their next purchase, or automatically enter them into a sweepstakes.
- Explain the importance of the reviews. Many customers are glad to leave a review if you remind them, but satisfied customers will be even more likely if you explain how much reviews help your business.
How to Use your Positive Online Reputation in Your Marketing Efforts
Another amazing benefit of positive feedback is that you can repurpose it for your marketing strategy. Reviews are a form of user-generated content that can go a long way for your entire marketing plan. User-generated content is more effective for influencing consumer decisions than brand-generated content, according to Forbes. Additionally, UGC is inexpensive, adds variety to your content, and enhances your authenticity. Connect and engage better with your potential and existing customers by repurposing reviews for your marketing content. Some of the best ways to use your positive online reputation include:
- Share top reviews on social media. Of course, you want to share positive reviews. However, picking the right reviews to share is important. Choose reviews that are descriptive, detailed, and focus on the customer’s specific experience with your business. You can share reviews on any of your social channels, including your feed or stories. Use a simple graphic design tool to make an aesthetically pleasing quote that suits your social media theme.
- Include the reviews on your website. You should, of course, allow customers to leave reviews directly on your website. However, you can also add Google reviews to your website. Add the reviews to your home page or other relevant pages by including them as a quote, or directly plug the Google reviews into your website.
- Incorporate reviews into your email marketing strategy. Make your emails even more effective by adding relevant reviews to them. A few reviews may be the extra push some customers need to click through on your emails.
- Add reviews to your landing pages. Landing pages are where you can convert interested customers. People who have clicked through your emails or ads to a landing page have already shown some interest. Seal the deal with a few powerful reviews.
- Testimonials. Ask people who left strong positive reviews for an in-depth testimonial. You can create a testimonial page on your website, or promote the testimonials on your social media, emails, and more. Consider asking for a video review or creating a list of important questions you would like the customer to answer based on their experience with your business.
- Create case studies. Based on reviews, you can choose customers to write a case study about. In the case study, you will explain the issue your customer had and how your products or services helped them resolve their pain point. Case studies are an effective way to demonstrate your value. Share the case study on your blog, social media, and newsletters.
Signs You Need Help with Online Review Management
Knowing about online reviews and online reputation management are only the first steps. Trying to implement the best practices and get more reviews is an entirely different challenge. The sooner you strengthen your online reputation, the sooner you can start earning more qualified leads. If you are struggling to see the results with review management or are not even sure where to start, it may be time to seek help from a professional. Here are some of the top signs you need help with your reputation management:
- Reviews or other negative content about your brand appear on the first search page. Over 70% of all customers click on a link on the first page of search results. If customers search your business or relative keywords and first see negative reviews, they will not be interested any longer.
- You have mostly negative reviews. Both customers and search engines use online reviews to judge the quality of your business before buying from you. A couple of negative reviews (especially with the proper response) will not hurt your business. However, too many negative reviews will hurt your reputation. If most of your reviews are negative, it does not automatically mean your business is bad. People are more motivated to leave reviews when they are upset. You may just need a bit of extra help tipping the scale toward positive reviews.
- You’re struggling to get reviews. Having too few reviews is just as bad as having negative reviews. Even companies with excellent services and years of experience will have a hard time getting online reviews without implementing the proper strategies. If you are unable to get reviews, it may be time to get some help.
- Nobody is responding to your reviews. Responding to reviews is just as important as getting them. Many businesses do not have the time or dedicated staff to closely monitor and respond to reviews. If you have many reviews without a response, you need some help with your online reputation management
- You don’t have a response protocol. Responding to reviews is a bit tricky. Not only do you need to respond in a timely manner, but you also need to respond effectively, especially to negative reviews. You should have a plan for responding to reviews so that you can resolve as many negative reviews as possible. An online reputation management agency can help you develop and implement a strategy for responding to reviews.
Benefits of Hiring an Online Reputation Management Company
If you have been struggling to get quality reviews and effectively manage your online reputation, it may be time to consult a professional. Hiring a credible company to help you with your review management can greatly benefit your company. Some of the top advantages of hiring an online reputation management company include:
- Save time. Managing your reviews takes time that many business owners and employees do not have available. Instead of sacrificing your online reputation because you are too busy, turn to a professional for help. Experienced professionals will have the best tools and software available to help you efficiently manage your reputation by automating different steps of the process.
- Cost-effective. Hiring an online reputation management service is well worth the investment. Reputation directly affects your revenue. The cost of hiring a professional to help you increase and manage your reviews is nothing compared to how much a negative online reputation can cost your business.
- Build trust with your audience. A reputation management professional will help you strengthen your online presence, and therefore build trust with your customers. Through their services, an online reputation manager will help you spread awareness of your positive reviews while mitigating the effect of negative ones.
Now is the time to completely transform your online review management system with Attract and Close. Our dedicated experts can help you with your entire marketing strategy, including online reputation management. Attract and Close uses industry-leading practices and tools to help you perfect your online review process. With BirdEye, our partner software, we can help you automate your review monitoring on one easy platform. We help you get more reviews, manage/respond to reviews, and use your reviews to get more customers.
Attract and Close has the flexibility to help your business in a way that is best for you. We can provide services to those who are looking to fully outsource their marketing team. For companies who prefer a mix of services and training, we consult, and for those who need on-demand training we offer training programs as well. No matter what your online review management needs are, Attract and Close can help. Today is the day to start increasing your reviews and online reputation. To learn more about our services or to get started, schedule your meeting with Attract and Close HERE.
(included photos are from Birdeye)