Online reviews play an important role in the visibility and success of your business. Advertising and organic results in search and social media are high influenced by start reviews. So how can a business generate online reviews and burst through the noise?
There are several main platforms you must be aware of and they can vary depending on the business vertical and target markets.
Google My Business
The first place to go to if you would like your domain to get authority and increase your visibility is Google. If your business is location based – a store, restaurant or a venue, you must claim its location on the map. To do so you must create a profile with Google My Business and claim the location. You will receive a verification code in your mailbox or on your phone and once you have entered the code the map location is yours. You can decorate your profile with images, videos, offers and products. But what is great is that you can now get reviews from your visitors. They can upload images, post comments and as a minimum they can rate you with stars. Responding to these comments and engaging with reviewers shows genuine attention to your customers and care for your reputation.
Google Customer Reviews
This is a way to collect reviews from a survey filled out after users have bought a product from your website. This is a bit more complicated to implement, as it requires you to add some code to the confirmation page where users are redirected after a purchase. After a user has checked out they will be asked to fill in a quick survey and rate the product with stars. Businesses which implement this survey earn a Google Customer Survey badge which they can add to their website.
Getting reviews from your Facebook business page is very easy and it only requires you to ask people to review you. It can be with a comment or with stars. Now Facebook has made it even easier to for users to rate businesses. When customers publicly recommend you in a group or to their friends, it will appear on your Page for all to see. By tagging and adding photos of your products you also generate credibility and add to your business authority.
Even though a huge media campaign about fake reviews on TripAdvisor has harmed the reputation of the travellers’ network, it still has a lot of authority. Adding information and getting good reviews there can be extremely important for a tourism related business. You can remind your customers to review your business by adding a sign somewhere visible. I have seen restaurants adding a TripAdvisor review request on the business card they give after you have paid the bill.
Even though Yelp is thought to be only important for food industry, having good base of reviews there is very important. Universities, museums, service companies can all get rated on Yelp. The star rating will be integrated in organic search results on Google. The freshness of pictures, business description and information play a vital role of the authority of your business. Regular engagement with reviewers will also help you develp your brand and listen to customers’ needs.
This company has helped a lot of businesses generate a reliable database of reviews of services and products. You can register your company and direct your customers to your page to leave you a review. The main reason why Trustpilot has been so successful is that it makes it easy for users to submit reviews. They don’t have to fill out too much information – it is very user-friendly.
When to ask for a review?
It is important to ask for a review when the customer is in a mood for it – right after they have eaten a great meal or had a wonderful tour. This will bring emotion and good feeling to the review. The longer it is after they have experienced the service, the less emotional and favourable the review would be. The Google Maps app sometimes sends a notification for a review right after you check out of a hotel or leave a restaurant. Creepy as it feels, this is with purpose, as then your impression is fresh and is likely to be very authentic.
Social proof and SEO
Google considers social proof very important for SEO. Regularly submitted new posts and updated information, response to ratings and multiple sources which refer your website in a positive light can significantly improve your organic presence. Having consistency of business contacts on all customer rating platforms is important because it shows your business as legitimate. Building local site links like referrals from local newspapers and listings can also benefit your online credibility.
In other words, getting search engines to like you means, you first getting everybody else to like you. Customer reviews play a crucial role to your business’s credibility and future success. Monitoring customer reviews and keeping your information updated will help your brand look caring and approachable. Social media, reviews, listings and referrals from credible local websites are some of the tools to make your business stand out. Even if you do not rely on SEO to drive traffic to your page and prefer driving traffic through ads, your reputation online is very dependent on blog, vlog and review data.
One last tip
One of the best ways of showing social proof for your services is collecting video testimonials. It sounds difficult, but it requires you just a couple of hours, a smartphone camera and a happy customer. Video testimonials can be placed on your website, YouTube channel or other video sharing platforms. This is a great way of showing the impact of your business and gaining trust from prospective customers. A recent study of Cisco shows that by 2021 82% of the internet traffic will be video, so now it is a great time to start building up.