We’ve talked a lot about the power of online reviews to influence prospects and to help Google and other search engines in their job of connecting searchers with the best possible resources. Simply put, online reviews and recommendations are becoming the new “word of mouth.” We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – you need to be actively cultivating reviews to keep your business being successful online. Here’s why:
1. Google Rewards Reviews – Google increasingly looks at reviews posted on the Google+ platform when deciding which businesses appear in its local listings results (the mapped search results that are also sometimes called the “7 pack”). It’s becoming more and more important to appear in Google’s local listings, and often can be more valuable than an organic listing on the first page.
2. Prospects Read Reviews – Love ’em or hate ’em, star reviews are here to stay. Searchers put a lot of weight on how many stars a business has earned on various review sites. If your competition has higher star ratings and more reviews, chances are good that they will attract more business, leaving you further behind in your effort to catch up.
3. Review Sites Are Growing – Reviews can be posted on dozens of popular sites – Yelp, Bizrate, and Angie’s List just to name a few. More and more customers are taking to the web to share their opinions and perspectives. The businesses that cultivate reviews on a wide range of platforms will earn more exposure and have more chances to reach new customers.
How to Get More Reviews
Here’s the great thing: it’s really pretty easy to get lots of positive reviews for your business on the review sites that matter most. All you have to do is ask, and you’ll find that your biggest fans are often more than happy to share their views and opinions.
Of course, you’re not going to please all your customers all the time, and you do want to keep in mind that the goal here is to collect only positive reviews. How do you work on controlling that? Well, two things. If you see a negative review posted about your business, reach out to that person and see if you can make things right. If you can, they might be willing to modify or at least remove their negative review.
Another thing you should be doing is encouraging reviews from customers you know have had a positive experience. One tactic we recommend is to set up a “secret” url with links to all the websites where customers can review you. Then, print up some business cards with this web address and hand those out only to customers who you know are ready to rave. Or, send the url to these customers over email for added convenience.
Reviews Are Gold
We only slightly exaggerate when we say that every positive review you get online is like a little gold coin. Reviews send a clear signal of how well your business performs, a signal that both the search engines and online searchers increasingly are paying attention to. You simply cannot afford to be passive about your online reviews – you have to engage with customers and solicit reviews or you risk losing ground to your competition.