Encourage your customers to leave online reviews

How online reviews are important for small businesses

Mon 20th Feb 2017

Local businesses are competing with national and international brands more than ever before, customers can research and order products and services from around the world without leaving their homes. This sounds scary for small business owners but if you do things right you have nothing to worry about, consumers value local businesses for quality work, personal, caring service and trustworthiness. Online reviews are useful for building the reputation of your business, but they now have another use in that search engines take them into consideration when ranking your website in local search results.

Customers love online reviews. Google shows reviews by critics and customers in its local search results, meaning that good reviews can help your business stand out in a search. It helps people to gauge whether they can trust a business or not, whether they’ll be happy with the service they receive and whether that business can help solve their problem. Because of this, Google and other search engines use reviews as a factor when deciding how to rank business websites.

That makes online reviews vital to your local SEO strategy.

Getting good reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor or Trustpilot can entice more people to check out your business, increase conversions and improve organic search engine rankings.

Google My Business

Your Google My Business listing is probably the single most important thing to set up to boost your local SEO visibility. Claiming or setting it up it only takes a few minutes, it’s free and one of the best things you can do for your business's website.

When setting up your Google My Business page, make sure to include:

  • A succinct and accurate description of your business
  • The right categories
  • Opening times
  • Contact information; a phone number (preferably a local one), business address, email address and link to your website

Other review sites

While Google reviews are the most influential source, that doesn’t mean you should ignore other sites which might be specific to your industry. Good quality links from relevant third party websites tell search engines about the relevance of your business, improving your search visibility.

Gathering reviews

Once you’ve found your relevant review sites and created or updated your profiles, you need to encourage customers to leave reviews. For that to happen, you need to ensure that you are doing everything to provide the best possible customer experience to make it more likely that they will leave a great review for you.

Other methods of attracting reviews:

  • Ask for them. Hand out cards asking for feedback, print it on receipts or simply ask them to leave a review.
  • Stay in touch. Collect your customers' email addresses and put it to good use. Mailing lists mean you can let your customers know about special events or offers and you can use them as a reminder to leave some feedback.
  • Make use of social media. Share an occasional Facebook post or tweet asking your customers to write a review about their experience with you.
  • Run promotions. Get more people to use your products or services to increase online chatter about your business.

Dealing with negative feedback

Even in the best businesses, sometimes things go wrong. If this does happen and you receive a bad review or negative feedback, most review sites offer the opportunity to reply. But even this has it’s advantages, you can learn from the feedback, apologise to the customer and offer to rectify the issue or give them a discount next time they visit.

In conclusion

Reviews are important to your potential customers and online visibility, collect them as an ongoing process to keep them fresh and relevant.

by Rachel Watson