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We’ve known for some time that reviews online can help influence a potential customer’s buying decisions. It is how companies like Yelp have come to be and are thriving through advertising. Some people may not know but it also can influence the Google Place page for your business and where it shows up on the results page of local businesses. The more reviews you have, the more likely you will show up in the Google Map results that are sometimes displayed in search results.

Here’s an example:
1) Go to Google and type in “San Diego Pizza.” Your results should look something like this:

google search
You see first an organic listing and then several listings shown with map pinpoints that correspond to the map listed on the top right. Each of these is from the Google Place page of the business. If you click any of them you will see they go to a page about that business. You can also see there are more organic results below the last Places page.

Getting listed in the Places results, or “Google 7-Pack,” has to do with where your business is located in reference to the city’s center, and the quality of customer reviews. See how many reviews each of these restaurants has? Google is listing them from Zagat (which Google just purchased last year) and from their own Places page.

results

Most review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor do not want businesses soliciting reviews and they discourage you from doing so. If they suspect this is happening they will use a “review filter” to hide reviews they think are suspicious. The problem with this is many businesses are being penalized because legitimate reviews are being hidden from their profile. Back in 2010 I wrote an article on how Yelp was actually soliciting businesses saying if they would advertise on Yelp they could make bad reviews go away. Yelp denied all this of course but I saw it firsthand with a few clients so I can attest it to be true.

So, how do you get reviews on these sites and keep the review filter from hiding good reviews from your business? The answer is consistency. Building reviews is something that has to happen over time. Gradually get more and more – don’t just make it a focus one month, get discouraged, and move on. While these sites frown on you soliciting reviews from your customers, you can suggest it. Here is an example.

  • You: How did you like your ______ (Fill in blank on your product/service/etc) today? Were you happy with your ______ (results/outcome/meal/etc)?
  • Your Customer: Yes, it was great. Thank you so much!
  • You: I am very glad. You know what would really help me/us/our business? If you went to our Google Place page and wrote a review on your experience here. Say what you like but we’d really appreciate your comments. Here is a business card with a link to our Google Place page so at your leisure check it out.

Try to do this at least 5-10 times a week (more if you can) with customers and stick to it. Eventually, over time, it will pay off and your reviews will grow.

When focusing on where to ask people to review you, I would stick to Google Places. While Yelp is very popular, Google removed them from the Places listings and from real life experience I can tell you Yelp is still up to shady tactics with their “review filter.” Google is where it matters most so keep your focus there.

As I’m sure you know, happy people tell 1 or 2 people about your business. Unhappy people will tell anyone who will listen. Focus in on the happy people and make sure your business is doing its best to make everyone happy.

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