Once you have a consistent name and address, have optimised your site for local traffic and have got a series of high quality citations in all the right places then sooner or later you need to think about getting reviews on various online portals starting with your Google+ Local page.
Now, reviews are important for local SEO but they are also different to the other elements in your marketing in that they are not directly under your control and to get good reviews you have to ask for them.
People are more likely to leave bad reviews
Sometimes businesses screw up. It happens. It just does. Sometimes when businesses screw up people leave bad reviews. Now, if you are doing your customer service properly and using social media to monitor for brand mentions then it should never get to this point but the fact remains that people leave bad reviews.
People don’t leave good reviews – unless you ask for them
Getting good reviews is not as hard as you may think and in all likelihood all you have to do is ask for them.
How to ask for reviews?
Asking for reviews is really pretty simple but we do have to consider that people are busy and make it as easy as possible for your potential reviewers. Put together a simple template email that links directly to where you want reviews placed and send that to your customers.
Who do you ask?
It really depends on your business. Do you often go way beyond the call of duty for people like most small business owners? Well, ask those people and they will generally be all too happy to leave you a positive review. If you have ongoing dialog then don’t be afraid to jump in and ask there and then.
You simply have to leave a few paragraphs talking about our service here:
Thanks and if we can do anything to help please give me a shout!
All the best
Don’t be afraid to be a bit cheeky and ask for a good review! If you have done your job properly then this should not be a problem!
How many do you need?
Well, again, it depends. How many have your competitors got? What do you sell? Does it need lots of opinions? Tailor this to your business and marketplace. That said, you want at least 5 on your Google+ Local page to get a hike of about two places in your position. We want at least 10 reviews on Google to get a score applied to your listing that again will help. You will not really get another SEO hike until you get around 100 reviews so don’t worry about piling them up thinking that next 5 or 10 reviews is going to take this to the next level for you.
How often do you need them?
A review from last week is relevant. A review from last year – not so much. You need a fairly consistent flow of reviews so whether that is one a day, one a week or one a month just keep it consistent and work harder when you need to get a new review.
Where do you need reviews?
Mostly you want reviews on your Google+ Local page. After that, you want reviews on any other important or visible directory in your industry. So, if you are a plumber in London and you search for Plumber in London take a look at the business directories that are returned in the search results. Do they list your competitors? Do they have reviews? Simply put, if there is a page in search that is returned that lists your competitor and could list you and there reviews then you want to get reviews there. I like to work on a 4 reviews on Google+ Local for 1 review somewhere else.
What do you want in the reviews?
On the Google+ Local reviews Google includes an “at a glance” summary of reviews and these tend to include various keywords and often positive or negative language such as “really impressed”, “disappointed”, “good service” and the like. Google understands sentiment so you want positive sentiment in your reviews. Additionally, we will see keywords such as “boiler”, “heating” etc.
The real trick here is somehow influencing what your reviewers are writing about you but again, that is not as hard as you may think and simply steer them in the right direction in a follow up email when they respond to your initial request.
Thanks again, we are a small business and reviews really help distinguish us from the cowboys!
All the best!
Making sure they get done?
Again, we can never understate the importance of organisation in SEO and your reviews are not your customers highest priority so you are going to have to nudge folks in the nicest possible way. So, create a spreadsheet and make a note of when you asked. Then, check your spreadsheet and don’t be ashamed to nudge people a couple of times to make sure you get that review.
Creating your review strategy
Building reviews is generally pretty easy and you just have to get organised and ask for them. A couple of template emails, a spreadsheet to track requests and a policy of asking customers for reviews is really all you need. If you want to add a little more game & get a feel for who will leave good reviews then email your customers and ask if they are happy with their order / service. When you get a glowing response, that is your in to ask for a review.
Don’t Fake It!
So, why not just add your own reviews or get your friends and family to do it? Well, for one it’s not sustainable and more importantly it is against the rules. Rules eh? Yep, rules, and if you break them and get court your listing will be filled away in the deepest, darkest depths of the internet where you will never, ever, ever be found.
Don’t overcomplicate this and make it some voodoo-hoodoo SEO thing: you go out of your way to help and please people so get them to talk about how totally amazing you are. Good for potential customers, good for Google – capiche?
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