Imagine you’re looking to hire a new landscaping company.
Where do you start?
The phonebook? Nah, that’s so 1995.
Ask your neighbors? You mean, people actually talk to their neighbors?! That’s out.
Call all your friends and ask for suggestions? Too time-consuming.
The most efficient and realistic way to find the best local services for your needs is by checking out online reviews on websites like Angie’s List, Yelp!, and Google. In fact, around 88% of people search for local business “reviews to determine the quality of a local business.”
The amount of people seeking online business reviews prior to making a purchase decision has been increasing over the past few years, as shown by this chart.
So from this, we can see that online business reviews help consumers make a purchase decision. Naturally, large amounts of positive reviews help increase your leads, whereas large amounts of negative reviews cause potential customers to steer clear.
So we know online reviews can affect a buyer’s decision, but how do local business reviews affect local SEO?
If your business has at least 5 reviews on Google My Business, then a rich snippet star rating will begin showing under your listing in the local snack pack, and Google Maps.
Having a star rating by your listing helps to draw users eyes to your listing, which helps to increase the clickthrough rate of your listing.
This, of course, helps to draw more organic traffic to your website but also has a positive effect on the rankings of your business.
The clickthrough rate of an individual search result is one of the most influential ranking factors in Google’s algorithm. Increasing the clickthrough rate is a sure-fire way to increase your rankings and overall visibility within google.
In local search, review signals represent 8.4% of the ranking factors, while clickthrough rate represents 9.5%. Together, these items cannot be ignored.
Recent research has shown that the prominence of keywords in reviews plays a big piece on a website’s rankings in local search. Keywords in the business reviews are the 25th most influential factor on rankings in the local snack pack.
For example, if multiple people use “best sandwich shop in Portland” in their reviews for Larry’s Deli, Google will associate the phrase “best sandwich shop in Portland” with Larry’s Deli.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many ethical ways of making this happen. If you have a customer willing to write a review, you may ask them to include certain keywords, but that still may break some review site guidelines.
The most realistic advice is to have an active strategy focusing on getting reviews, not so much focus on getting the right reviews.
If you are making an active effort to increase the number of positive reviews on local search platforms, then you are taking one step to increase rankings and visibility in Google through multiple facets of Local SEO.
These facets include clickthrough rate, overall star rating, review quantity, and keywords in reviews.
In addition to increased rankings and visibility within Google, having more reviews will help turn potential customers into customers.
Getting more online reviews isn’t easy, but there are ways you can increase the chance customers will leave a positive review.
Let’s move on to some of those strategies.
Use a review management system
A review management system will help your business automatically request reviews from recent customers. They help to capture your customer’s email address and send them a review request after the service is complete.
Some systems also utilize funnels to help direct positive reviews to online review sites like Yelp, while directing negative feedback directly to the business.
If you’re serious about building your online reputation, this might be the easiest and most effective route.
Train employees to ask for reviews
A good habit to build is to ask for reviews from happy customers.
When employees know a customer had a fantastic experience, often the mention of Yelp! or another online review platform is enough to make the customer take action and leave a review.
Here’s a great dialogue of how that could work:
Customer: “Wow, you guys really went above and beyond! Thanks for your hard work!”
Employee: “Thank you! We’re glad you’re satisfied. If you have a moment, we would be extremely grateful if you could share your experience with other customers on Yelp! Our customer’s feedback and our reputation mean a lot!”
Follow-up with happy customers
If you know a customer had a phenomenal experience, shoot them an email asking for a review.
In the email, make it as easy and straight-forward for the customer to leave a review. After all, the less amount of work it takes them, the more likely they are to take action!
Bottom line: Provide great service, Don’t be shy asking for reviews, and begin increasing your visibility in Google today!