As the internet evolves and customers have more options for research at their fingertips, so should your online strategy. One way to really promote your product or service is through your customer reviews. These aren’t just a low-priority option to increase business during the slow season; getting online reviews should become a large focus of how you operate your business. Even with how much you already have on your plate, reviews are worth your time.

 

Why should I spend my time focusing on getting online reviews?

Reviews and ratings are more important than ever, the reasons being that (1) Google Maps and other Google searches feature reviews more prominently and (2) these reviews can influence rankings, according to the BruceClay.com blog. Reviews help you get noticed in Google’s search Carousel for local results and they even give you more screen time for mobile users in this age of ever-increasing mobile searches.

TheContentAuthority.com cites three additional reasons that online reviews are valuable for businesses:

  1. Customer reviews provide fresh content. This fresh content helps Google and other search engines to see your business as current and active, providing them with a better reason to rank your website and business listings higher in their results.
  2. Reviews help to increase your rankings in search results when people search for “product/industry name” + reviews. For example, if someone were to search “roofing company reviews” on Google, the companies with the most reviews and most review activity will most likely be ranked higher in the results.
  3. Customers that reviewed the same product give that product a higher rating density, leading to higher CTR (click-through-rate). The more reviews you get online, the more people are going to click through to your website or listing to see what all the fuss is about.

Finally, let’s discuss how many reviews you should acquire. According to Inchoo.net, if you have between approximately 10 and 30 reviews, the conversion rate is not much different from business to business within the same industry. However, as soon as you get above that number 30 review, you can see a rapid growth in conversion rates for the higher number of reviews. Also, there is a pretty big difference in the 0-10 range of reviews. You raise your conversion rate by 1% with each of the first 10 reviews on a product or service.

From this, you can see how important reviews can be for your online success in generating new customers!

 

How do I get these oh-so-valuable reviews?

When it comes to acquiring reviews, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Most review sites have an algorithm that blocks spam, including solicited reviews. For this reason, you should never offer an incentive or discount for customer to leave a review. Yelp especially has a very attuned radar to these kinds of things, and will penalize your business listing when it picks up on spammy reviews.
  2. Don’t get all your reviews on one site. Have you heard the phrase “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? This holds especially true for online reviews. There are many ways that review sites can lose your reviews, either from policy changes or updates to the sites, and those reviews never come back. It’s better to diversify. Do the research to find out what review sites are most searched for in your industry and focus on getting reviews on those sites.
  3. Pay attention to which sites syndicate reviews. Some local listing sites are data aggregators, meaning they send their information to other websites as well. This is really beneficial because you only have to create one local listing and it will show up in several other directories. The same is true for reviews left on that one listing. Decide which listing directories you want reviews on and then list those for customers who ask where they can leave you a testimonial. Also, you can syndicate reviews yourself by sharing those posted reviews on your social media pages, including Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. Just link to the review and quote it again so that researchers can read about your product or services on a variety of sites.

Here are some suggestions from Moz for getting reviews without disobeying the rules set by most local listings sites:

  • Link to your local listings with reviews from your website.
  • Create print materials, listing the places that customers can review you, and hand them out to the customer at the time of service or when they purchase your product.
  • Train your staff that interacts with customers directly to request a review upon completion of the service.
  • Let your customers review you on their site of choice. This helps get your business on a greater variety of websites, but also encourages them to leave the review more than if they had to create an account on a different site.

How do I respond to a negative review?

It’s important to monitor your reviews to make sure that you can prevent any negative reviews. If you do find a negative review, first determine if you can contact the reviewee. If there is ever a way that you can rectify a situation, do it and request that they modify or remove their review. Customers that are researching your product or service will notice your attentiveness and prompt reaction to the review.
If you can’t respond to the review, or if the reviewee won’t respond to your contact, then unfortunately there is no way to get rid of the review. However, Econsultancy.com posted an article explaining how bad reviews can sometime be okay. When customers see these negative reviews, it helps prove that your reviews are not all fake or solicited. It adds more validity to your positive reviews. Customers are more likely to convert once they see there are a couple negative reviews amongst all the positive ones. So negative comments aren’t encouraged, but they shouldn’t be lamented if you’ve done all you can to rectify them.
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