Getting reviews from your customers has always been a beneficial exercise for business, but today its importance is even greater.
There are three main benefits of getting customer reviews; first, to acquire testimonials you can use in marketing your business: second, to better understand what you are doing right and/or wrong as a business; and third, to improve the visibility of your business on Google. In regards to the latter, the importance of accumulating genuine and honest reviews of your services online is ever increasing. Although you may have all the other elements of your local search strategy covered, the power of review data should not be underestimated.
First, the power of the customer testimonial cannot be underestimated in its influence on other potential customers. You can tell me you are nice, and I may believe you. However, if an unbiased third party tells me you are nice, I’d be much more inclined to believe it. In fact, one recent study suggests that customer reviews are the most powerful purchase influence. Another study found that 88% of consumers consult reviews before making a purchase, and yet another study indicated that 63% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has customer reviews.
One hesitation businesses have in soliciting online reviews is the fear of receiving a bad review. However, receiving the odd bad review is not necessarily a bad thing. Actively replying to bad reviews and looking to resolve a situation illustrates to your new potential customers that you care about your clients. A study actually found that bad reviews can increase conversion by 67%.
So, why are testimonials so important in an SEO strategy? In Google’s pursuit to deliver the most relevant and beneficial results for local searches, they not only want to know what your business does but how your business is perceived. They do this, in large part, by seeing how many reviews you have and what your average customer rating is. Want proof? The tour illustrating the features of the new Google Maps states outright that the “highest-rated” businesses near you will be returned when you search with local intent. Google also recently updated its map search layout to show ratings and reviews much more prominently. Additionally, with Google, content is king; adding user-generated content on your site or your Google plus page is a great way to add new, fresh, and unique content.
The quality and quantity of reviews on Google is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO. And, when a person scans the search results for a local product or service in Google, the business listings that include customer reviews present greater credibility and, naturally, receive more clicks. If your search result listing shows a 4.5-star rating with 18 reviews (and your competitor listings show less), that’s strong social proof that your product or service is trustworthy.
Another fact to be conscious of is that, in today’s day and age, your clients will review your products or services whether you want it or not. Even if reviews are not posted to your site, there are numerous websites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, and social media sites where reviews will appear. To maximize the effect of your reviews, and to maintain as much control over them as you can, prompting your customers to leave reviews about your company on your Google+ Local page should be your first priority.
Now that we’ve established the importance of customer reviews, specifically online reviews, how do you get your customers to write reviews for your business? First, and most importantly, have great customer service. Happy customers mean good ratings and reviews. Secondly, you need to have an active strategy in place to encourage reviews rather than waiting for it to happen naturally. An easy way to start collecting online reviews is to ask family and friends to review your business. Next, put a strategy in place for asking both existing and new customers following their purchase; the more immediately this is done, the more likely you are to review a review from them. And, make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave a review, including an obvious link right off your own website to leave a review.
One warning – never pay for reviews. That includes offering product incentives in exchange for reviews (eg. free pizza slice for showing a completed review). While it may offer the best incentive for soliciting reviews, it is against Google’s terms of service. If you are found out, it will greatly harm your Google ranking.
How easy it is for your customers to leave reviews about your company? At Rocket Digital, we can help you establish and execute an effective strategy for encouraging more customer reviews to greatly benefit your business, especially as part of an overall SEO strategy.