Simply put, online reviews matter. It’s where established and new customers turn to identify whether your place of business is worth their time and money. Online reviews can be found with the click of a button or a quick Google search. For many small businesses, good or bad reviews can make or break their success. It doesn’t take much for a disgruntled customer to leave a one-star review, and unfortunately, more people are inclined to leave negative reviews than positive ones. That’s why the customer experience is key.
As a business, you need to gather as many positive reviews as you can. Yes, it’s important to the livelihood of your enterprise, and it can also help improve your SEO efforts. Reviews play a role in boosting your social appearance and authority, and Google tends to favor higher-rated businesses.
Below, I’ll explain the importance of positive online reviews for local businesses:
The Benefits of Online Reviews for Local Businesses
In today’s day and age, it’s paramount that customers leave reviews—and if you ask them to—they probably will.
There are numerous ways a single online review can benefit your local business:
Improved Reputation and Credibility
Believe it or not, when a customer leaves a good or bad review, many other potential customers are going to heed it. Think about any incident where a friend has recommended a movie or restaurant and given it glowing reviews. You’re more than likely going to try it out for yourself to see what all the rave is about. Now think about a time when someone told you to avoid a restaurant or skip out on seeing a new film in theaters. You’re probably going to accept their advice. The same goes for online reviews of local businesses.
Luckily, collecting positive online reviews can work wonders for your establishment. While maintaining a four-star review can be challenging, it can show prospective customers that you’re a trusted business and have a solid reputation. Most customers will consult online reviews when deciding if they’ll spend money at your place of business.
Increased Traffic to the Website and Physical Location
Searching for a business online is a very fast process—whether you’re looking for the address, hours of operation, or phone number—and some of the first things you’ll see are the number of stars the business has with the reviews accompanying it.
Google takes reviews from multiple sites when deciding where your business ranks. As a result, positive online reviews and specific keywords used can influence your local search visibility and drive your traffic upward.
For websites like Yelp, your ranking is influenced by your business rating and the number of reviews you have. There’s also an array of apps and services that use review data to help new customers determine whether they want to shop at your location. Yelp reviews are used by some of the most established developers, such as Microsoft and Apple!
There’s no denying that reviews impact your overall web presence. Make sure all your information up to date online; it will create a level of consistency that will keep customers coming to your establishment. As well, you’ll want to put those positive reviews front and center. A Google Business Profile is perfect for that as it can identify all the important information regarding your business and display your star rating to sway customers into visiting your physical location.
Increased Sales and Revenue
As I mentioned earlier, most consumers do their research when deciding if they want to spend money at your place of business. Positive and negative reviews can influence purchasing decisions that may or may not increase your sales. If enough current customers have nothing but great things to say about your product or service, you’ll likely see a hike in your revenue. That’s how online reviews and word of mouth works.
Think of it this way. Let’s say you’re a Thai food restaurant with 4 stars. If a new customer was to search “local Thai food restaurants in my area,” your establishment may likely pop up, along with a list of other restaurants with similar dishes and services. The difference here is that the customer will choose your business based on the positive reviews rather than another business with mixed three-star reviews. That’s the kind of power that a review can have. It can drive more customers to your business, which will increase your sales.
Improved Customer Loyalty and Retention
For many small businesses, maintaining your customer relationship is vital to the success of your enterprise. Operating on a personal level is an essential aspect of running a small business. You’ll want to keep those loyal customers coming through the door, and reviews can either positively or negatively influence that.
When customers can trust you, they’re always more than likely to return. Sometimes, they even bring people along, which means more new customers and loyalty for your small business.
Reviews are an extremely important resource; they’re a way for your customers to express how they feel about your product or service. Try engaging with your reviews and use the input to improve your place of business. Customers can feel more confident in your business if you deliver on your promises, which means making active changes based on client reviews.
Best Practices for Managing and Tracking Online Reviews
Soliciting Reviews From Customers
Don’t be afraid to ask loyal or potential customers to leave reviews for your business. Emphasize the importance of receiving positive reviews. If frequent customers love your business, they’ll feel motivated to leave positive reviews that sway other potential customers to visit your location.
Asking for reviews also demonstrates to customers that you care. When you request customer feedback, it shows that you value their opinions. Customers love feeling as though they matter to you. The more you trust them, the more they feel invested in your brand and company.
Soliciting reviews also plays a role in the following:
- Improves customer satisfaction
- Attracts new customers
- Generates sales
- Improves your product and/or service
- Provides valuable information for online customers
Respond to Positive and Negative Reviews
Respond to your reviews. Yes, especially the negative reviews. Letting customers know you’re listening is vital. It shows them that you’re actively trying to improve the customer experience.
Here are some things to keep in mind when responding to feedback:
- Keep it personable: Try to avoid giving generic responses. If your answers don’t sound genuine, that could add fuel to the fire. You can show your customers that you appreciate their reviews by creating personal messages that include their names and references to a specific point in their comments.
- Stay calm, cool, and collected: Don’t get heated. Remember, your comments will reflect your business, so keep calm when responding to reviews. Keep it professional and provide excellent customer service. That might be enough to turn that disgruntled customer around.
- Respond ASAP: Try your best to respond promptly. Don’t leave reviews by the wayside, and remember that if you have reviews on multiple platforms, you should give all of them an equal amount of responses.
- Express your gratitude: End your responses with a thank you. Thanking a customer for taking the time to leave you a review, whether it’s good or bad, shows that you’re able to accept and appreciate the feedback.
- Offer a solution: When dealing with a negative review, try to listen and understand the problem. You can apologize for the inconvenience the customer is experiencing and offer them a solution, whether it’s a discount, refund, etc. Ignoring your customers can reflect poorly on your brand and result in permanently losing one or more prospects.
Monitoring and Tracking Reviews on Different Platforms
By monitoring and tracking reviews on different platforms, you can consistently stay aware of what consumers have to say about your business, its services, or its products. While reviews may not always be strictly positive, they can help you address areas that customers are unhappy with, which will enhance the customer relationship.
Obtaining this type of information and data can help you make adjustments to concerns made. Customer insights can help you improve your business strategy, as you’ll have a direct line to what customers like and don’t like about your operations.
In addition, tracking reviews can also provide more information about how your company is doing against other competitors in the industry. That means looking at your competitors’ reviews and identifying how you can offer what the competing business can’t provide to their customers.
Use Review Data To Improve Business Operations and Customer Experience
As I mentioned above, using review data can provide many benefits for your business. For example, if a customer leaves feedback about a product or service you offer, you can use the review as an endorsement of that specific product or service. Highlighting positive reviews can show potential customers why your business should be next on their shopping agenda. The more positive reviews, the better.
In addition, any negative reviews you receive should be used to strengthen your business operations. Meet those criticisms with solutions. It shows customers you’re listening and willing to adapt, which is an asset for any small business.
Tools To Use for Review Generation
Thankfully, there are many tools available to help with review generation. Here are some go-to SEO tools that may help your business:
- BrightLocal: If you have a Google Business Profile (GBP), you might want to get your hands on BrightLocal. The software can track and monitor your competitors and provides a reputation management tool that helps your business get more reviews. It can create an email template to send to customers and encourage them to leave positive reviews. Additionally, it monitors numerous review sites and identifies which ones don’t have your business reviews.
- Rep.co: This tool can help you generate more online responses. How? The review management software can request reviews from new customers as long as you upload them to your contacts. Requests can be sent via email or SMS messages. You will get notified whenever a new review rolls in, and you can select only positive reviews to get posted on your preferred platforms.
- Podium: You can grow your small business and build a strong online reputation with Podium. The tool uses text to communicate with customers and obtain more reviews. It’s all automated, so you can focus on running your business while the software does all the review generation on your behalf.
- Yext: Reviews can help your local business thrive. Yext has all the features you could want when generating positive reviews. The software provides users with tools to monitor and analyze incoming reviews and generate a wide selection of response methods to reply with.
- Birdeye: This all-in-one platform can help you interact with customers and provide an excellent customer experience. It collects reviews for your business, generates referrals, and communicates with prospects via automation. Birdeye is a great SEO tool to generate reviews and helps boost your local search rankings.
- Grade.us: Grade.us assists with automating the review generation process on Google, Facebook, and industry-specific review sites. You can use the tool to get reviews on sites that matter, respond to negative responses, monitor customer reviews, and market those reviews to a broader audience through social media content.
- Trustpilot: Trustpilot is all about bringing businesses and consumers together as it hosts reviews to help consumers know where to shop. Getting your reviews on Trustpilot can draw many potential customers to your business location.
- BrightGauge: This data management platform collects company and client data in real-time and provides all the metrics necessary to help improve your SEO rankings.
The Role of Online Reviews in Local SEO
Getting reviews from local customers is one of the most effective ways to get more traffic and boost your position in SERPs. Why? Because they elevate your online presence.
Some beneficial ways that reviews influence your Local SEO include the following:
- Four and five-star reviews generate more click-throughs and increase traffic to your business website.
- Higher review ratings mean that Google will trust your website/business and provide a better ranking.
- Customers tend to read online reviews. More than half of prospective customers will trust an online review before making a decision.
It’s important to note that you should use the best practices when optimizing online reviews.
Some practices include:
- Using longer, more informative reviews
- Providing accurate descriptions of your services and products
- Including a mix of positive and negative reviews
- Using keywords that connect to your page
As consumers, we often see positive reviews used in marketing strategies from some of the biggest companies around, such as Apple, LinkedIn, Yeti, etc. When customers see glowing reviews, they have more incentive to spend money. Good reviews also encourage more people to visit company websites, resulting in a boost in traffic, rankings, and sales.
Reviews are definitely an essential component for improving your business’s SEO strategy. A bad review from an unhappy customer can make all the difference in the world. It’s pivotal that you manage all reviews and maintain your customer relationship. I can’t stress how helpful review management tools are for small businesses. They allow you to streamline your review generation efforts and provide a positive experience for all customers.
I hope you find this article helpful. Visit SerpFocus for more reviews of the latest SEO tools and software.