Last week while on my way to my next appointment, I had a few moments and stopped in at a local coffee shop. Humming around me were the whirls of chattering voices, happy smiles and deep conversation. In the center of all the busyness, I noticed a mid-forties professional typing rather fast on his laptop. I could clearly see that he was on Google.
As I sat sipping my coffee I found myself deep in thought about the customer review process and its impact. I had just had a conversation with a client earlier that morning about finalizing her review strategy and this guy was my case in point—exactly why they’re so important.
From what I could tell (and honestly I wasn’t trying to be snoopy but surely I am curious) he was leaving a review on a local G+ business page and I’m guessing by the look on his face and the frustration that was clearly coming off the tips of his fingers and on to his keyboard…he wasn’t happy.
Reviews are a necessity for any business that has an online presence. This is one of those things that as a business owner you must get right as nearly 88% of all prospective buyers check reviews before making a purchase. Just look at online retail giant, Amazon for instance. The first thing we all do before clicking that “add to cart” button is check the reviews and read the experience others have had with that retailer. Here’s how important they are to buyers and retailers alike; Amazon happens to be the leading review site in the US today with over 20 million prime members. There’s definitely power in numbers.
Reviews Allow Real-Time Engagement
Reviews equate to engagement, they allow businesses to shift directions immediately and meet the needs of their followers in the present as well as past. Just look at Yelp and TripAdvisor—do you eat at a new restaurant or stay at an out-of-town hotel without checking the reviews first? Most likely not. If you were to read a response left by management that explained a bad situation, it might persuade you in your decision to give them a try—where we currently are in real-time.
Keep in mind that reviewers are a separate niche of people all unto themselves. The really good ones (and there are many), have developed a cult following. They’re not afraid to say how the feel and they like the attention and possible rewards they get when others chime in as they open up their Yelp app on their mobile device and start to leave a review. I’ve even seen the staff of a restaurant bring the table next to us a special desert on the spot because someone left a 5 star Yelp review on how great their experience was. As reviews get posted, management is on point with recognizing their value—and instantly rewards them.
Reviews Affect Local SEO Results
Good or bad, Google reviews pack a punch. With Google being the second most important review platform after Amazon, they can make or break your reputation. However, what most business owners aren’t thinking about is that they are uber important to our SEO. Reviews are one of the 200 Ranking Factors that Google uses in their algorithm.
First of all, they appear when someone Googles your business. Google wants your prospective buyers to know you’re a legitimate business and to help them make solid decisions so they decided a few years back to add review results to your online listing. They conveniently shine and twinkle right next your listing and when compared to the other 5 or 6 local businesses that populate (aka your competition). The one with the most reviews usually wins the click. If you have a successful SEO plan that puts you at the top of the search results and have no reviews, again, the one with the reviews will most likely win the click simply because of those little yellow ranking stars.
All Google reviews are good to have. However, only reviews that are native Google Map reviews with text pin point exactly where that reviewer was at the time he or she wrote the review will actually boost your SEO. This reinforces your location and your reputation back to Google that yes, indeed you are a real business.
My advice is to make use of your Google+ Places Page and set it up so it’s easy for your customers to review you. As you get your Places Page all optimized and set up, you’ll need to verify your business address with Google. They’ll send you a postcard with the code but also know that postcards get lost and then we lose track of time. So once you go in and request to be verified, be sure to watch for the code that will come in your mailbox so you can finish the listing properly. Again, this is very important to your local listing and SEO results.
Reviews Affect the Buying Decision
Reviews that are out on review sites and on forums are helpful to your SEO as well. They may be less authoritative, but your future customers will still read and refer to them for consistency. Take it one step further, nothing is as strong as a personal (that turns out to be non-personal, because let’s face it—we probably have no clue who the reviewer actually is) recommendation from someone who has experienced that product/business before.
They tell us the good, the bad and the ugly. They’re honest and for the most part even the strange or funny ones are helpful. As business owners, they keep us on our toes or help us navigate through issues or even create a change for the better. As buyers they reinforce our decision which makes us as consumers feel happy about a purchase. For some, they simply allow the freedom to unlock the purse strings and have peace of mind.
Create a Review Strategy
I get it, as business owners we’re busy. We are in the SEO business and while we do this for our own clients, we have been so busy working on theirs that we have forgotten about ours! We know through and through that we also need a review strategy. Yet, it’s hard to find the time to actually get a process in place. Just like good SEO—good reviews take time to drive results.
Here’s what we’ve doing. We’ve created a solid review strategy and incorporated it into our overall marketing plan for the year. We’ve kept it simple…and you can too. Get your think tank together (or call us!) and brainstorm ways that you can build a solid online reputation while you build your SEO at the same time.
Before you get started though, check out the Google review policies. It could save you from being penalized down the road. If you know another small business that can benefit from this post, please share it with them! We’d love to help them boost their SEO by implementing a solid review strategy!
About Us: In addition to our other services, Infinite Reach Agency works with our clients to help them rank and be found! If you have questions on this topic or have questions on how to implement a review strategy, contact us for a complimentary 30 minute consultation! We’re happy to help!