About the author
Brian is a Local Search Analyst and Account Manager at a digital marketing agency, Sterling Sky. He has been helping clients with local SEO since 2008 and works on a variety of businesses with the Sterling Sky Dream Team.
Most business owners are aware the power of reviews can have for their business. Reviews can be impactful both positively and negatively, and consumers are increasingly relying on reviews to make decisions about products and services they intend to purchase.
Generating reviews for your business is a critical component of SEO, specifically local SEO. First-hand reviews help build your brand and reputation, while 3rd party reviews offer proof your company does or sells what it says it does.
Online reviews are referrals for your business. Having consistent, positive sentiment being offered about your business is a great way to stand out among your competitors. People will trust what is said about you more than they will trust what is said by you.
Below I will break down why your business should invest in attaining reviews, benefits of reviews, sites you should focus on, and how to ask for reviews.
Why you should ask for reviews
There are many great benefits to attaining reviews for your business. One of the main benefits is that reviews build trust in your business and brand.
Continually being recognized in your reviews as the best, most reviewed, expert, timely, etc. by customers is invaluable. These reviews can also assist you in driving new messaging for your business. If you see a pattern in review communication, you can begin to turn that into a core message. For instance, if any of your reviews are mentioning how timely you perform your services, you can add that as a core to your business values.
Attaining reviews is difficult, takes commitment, and is a long term investment. It is a good idea to spread out reviews to different platforms as well. To regularly attain reviews on various websites is difficult and time-consuming. Consumers tend to trust those reviews more because it is more difficult to fake those reviews.
Unfortunately, purchasing fake reviews is common. Sometimes, a business will purchase reviews for a particular platform, Google, Facebook, etc., to increase the number and rating of their business reviews. If your business has a good number of reviews from various platforms, consumers are more likely to trust those rather than 1,000 reviews on one platform.
Having solid reviews and ratings on different review platforms will also help your customers choose you over your competitors. The way customers are talking about you is just as important as you attaining reviews. Having a positive footprint across review platforms will help drive sales. Having an array of positive reviews will also encourage others to write their own reviews about your business.
With the number of fake reviews, review scams, or businesses simply not attaining reviews on a regular basis, customers want to be reassured they are getting the products, services, and the value they are searching for. They are looking for a reason to choose your business over your competitors, and you need to give them one.
What are the benefits of reviews?
There are numerous benefits to attaining reviews for your business.
Your business will show stars in the SERPs
On Google, once you attain at least five reviews, your business will begin showing stars in the SERPs. This is a huge advantage if you are listed in the Local Pack. It is an even larger advantage if you have stars on your listing and your competitors do not. Stars will make your listing stand out above the rest. The more reviews you attain, the better off you will be.
For non-Google or niche review websites, they may also have stars in the SERPs. This can be another benefit to your business if you have positive reviews on those sites as well. If a potential customer searches for your business and sees a SERP page full of review stars of your business, the odds are likely you will win that customer’s business.
Your business will show more prominently in the SERPs
Google My Business counts reviews as a ranking factor. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely you will rank in the Local Pack above your competitors. GMB reviews also surface in the Google Q&A section when customers are searching for answers.
Consumers read reviews
BrightLocal performed a study that said 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with the average consumer reading 10 reviews before being able to trust a business. The more reviews you can attain, on a variety of platforms, the more potential customers will find your business and trust the reviews they see.
Your click-through rate (CTR) will improve
Another BrightLocal study showed the impact a high number of positive reviews will have on CTR. Results showed going from a 3-star rating to a 5-star rating increased clicks by 25%, and having a 5-star rating gets a business 39% more clicks than having a 1-star rating.
Your brand will build trust and a positive reputation
Reputation management services have exploded over the past few years, and with good reason. Reviews go hand in hand with loyalty. Customers who take the time to leave a positive review are more likely to feel a sort of loyalty, be a repeat customer, and tell others about your business. All of this will increase your brand awareness and reputation in your business.
Reviews can help improve your business
Reviews will provide you with valuable feedback about your business, service, products, and employees. Customers will let you know what is working, and what needs to be improved. If your customers are continually talking about how terrific your customer service is, you can turn that into a selling point for your business. If customers are discussing a need to improve your communication or product, you can make that a point of emphasis to improve your business.
What sites should you ask for reviews on?
Positive reviews are beneficial for social proof and SEO efforts. Google review activity is a ranking factor and helps your business appear in the Local Pack.
To make a larger impact and create a stronger review foothold, it is important to attain reviews from various review platforms. The most important platform is Google. As I mentioned earlier, once you have at least five reviews on Google, you will receive review stars in the Local Pack. From there you should focus review efforts on Facebook, Yelp, the BBB, and your own website.
In addition, you should research any local or niche review websites in your industry. This is especially important if the sites are showing prominently in the SERPs, or have review stars. If you are a law firm, some of these niche sites would include Avvo, Findlaw, and Martindale. If you are in a home services niche, AngiesList and HomeAdvisor are good options.
How do you ask for reviews?
Knowing reviews are important, you need a plethora of them, and need several different review platforms to be effective, but how do you ask for reviews from your customers?
Attaining a steady stream of reviews is more difficult than it seems. To keep getting reviews for your business, you need to be proactive. There are several ways to do so.
1. Create a template to ask for reviews
To save time, or if multiple employees in your company will be asking customers for reviews, it is helpful to create an email template. Effective, consistent communication can save you headaches.
You can also create a page on your website or a handout that you can provide to customers. This can be an effective way to attain reviews without having to spend time explaining the review process and steps to each customer. The handout should explain what websites you want them to review you on, how to set up an account or log in, how to find your business on the review website, and how to post a review. Making it as easy as possible for customers will lead to more reviews for your business.
2. Use a review tool
Reputation management tools typically charge monthly fees and allow you to set up a review page or custom email template to capture reviews. The streamlined process will automatically email previous clients and prompt them for reviews while you focus on your day to day business.
3. Put links in your email, business card, invoices
A simple, yet effective way to ask for reviews is to add a link to your social profiles in everything you own. Add review links to Google, Yelp, Facebook, and any other review platform you deem valuable to your business. These can go in the signature of your email, on your business cards, and on invoices, you send your customers. Even if people do not review you immediately, the constant subtle reminders should be enough to entice a review eventually.
4. Add links to your website for reviews
It is also a good idea to add links to your website for review platforms. Maybe you add links to your website footer or have a page dedicated to reviews. Showcase the platforms, the number of reviews, star rating, and logo of those review sites. The more you can show customers you care about reviews, and highlight the positive effects, the more likely they will be to review you as well.
5. Email clients after a purchase or service performed
The easiest and most obvious way to ask for reviews is to email the customer directly after a purchase or service is performed. Thank the customer for their business, show them you appreciate them choosing you over your competition, and invite them to review their experience. The customer is more likely to review your business after purchase, especially if they had a positive experience. They are also likely to review since the transaction is top of mind for them.
If you want to be successful in today’s digital marketplace, you simply need to take advantage of the numerous opportunities and benefits reviews can provide your business. If a review campaign is not something you have given much thought to or have yet to begin, you are already behind. It’s not too late, though you must start soon. Having a well-designed review strategy with the opportunity to attain reviews regularly is key. If your business is not taking advantage of reviews, you can bet your competitors are.