Local search drives business. Reviews are essential to consumers as they search for reliable, trustworthy businesses to purchase from. Merging the two is what Google does best.
Roughly 40% of searches are local. This means that your neighbors are searching for places to shop in your town on Google. According to the 2012 Local Consumer Review Study, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation. Better yet, 52% say positive online reviews make them more likely to purchase from a business. The importance of local searches and online reviews of your business has never been greater.
Google has said recently, “…we at Google are committed to helping people to get ratings, reviews, and recommendations that are relevant, helpful, and trustworthy.” In an effort to provide their users with the best possible experience, Google has been tweaking their algorithm to ensure consumers find the information they need. In doing so, they have laid out some guidelines on what not to do to generate reviews. Here’s what you need to know:
Don’t ask your employees to review you.
Google doesn’t allow reviews from current owners or employees. They have the technology to remove individual reviews, so don’t give them reason to come after your page.
Don’t pay someone to write reviews for you.
Some SEO companies will claim that by generating reviews for you they can boost your ranking. This is what Google says about these claims, “We’ve seen companies make up fake glowing testimonies — and we’ll take them down.”
Negative reviews can’t be removed.
Some will say they can remove negative reviews about your business, but it simply isn’t true. The best you can hope for is to bury the negative review with oodles of positive ones.
Don’t set up a computer in your business for people to provide reviews.
Google doesn’t like this and recommends you send follow up emails asking for reviews instead.
Don’t bribe your customer for a review.
Seems obvious right? Well, even discounts or incentives are considered bribes. So don’t do it.
Don’t enter comment cards as reviews.
Google wants each review to “come from first-hand experience and does not allow posting reviews on behalf of others.”
So how are you supposed to increase your review count? Here are some tips you can use to get more reviews from your very satisfied customers.
- Send emails reminding customers to write online reviews after a purchase.
- Include a link to review your business on Google+ in any email blasts you send out.
- Post reminders near the register, on the door or in another well trafficked area of your store.
- Getting lots of positive mentions on social media sites? Follow up with a reminder to post to your Google+ Local page.
And what do you do if you receive a bad review. UGH. Don’t just stick your head in the sand. Action must be taken! First, respond promptly with an apology. Ask what you can do to make the situation whole. Work closely with the disgruntled customer to turn them around. They are likely to become a fan for life if you can prove you are responsive to their needs.
The importance of reviews on local search results is only going to increase as Google continues to place more weight on these online entries. Now is the time to build up a strong base of reviews.
If you are not currently monitoring your online reputation and reviews, call Qiigo today at (404) 496-6841 to learn more about our Reputation Management program.