Online reviews can make or break a small business. It doesn’t just help your reputation, it can also help your SEO. Moz even estimates reviews make up 10% of the criteria for how Google displays search results. So reviews are definitely not something you should overlook.
But how do you get more online reviews, what should you avoid doing when getting reviews and how do you deal with negative reviews?
How to get more online reviews
As with seemingly every online activity, there are guidelines which you should follow. If you undertake any activities which are against these guidelines, you will not only risk your ranking on search engines, but you also risk damaging your business.
So what are the ways you can get reviews that will actually help your business and your rankings?
Has someone just brought one of your products or used your service? Now is the perfect time to follow up with them to see how they enjoyed their experience with your business. There are numerous ways which you can follow up – make an email campaign, send an SMS, or even consider making a review landing page.
You want to make sure you time the follow-up campaign right. Don’t bother people as soon as they’ve left the store, but don’t contact them weeks later when they’ve forgotten all about it. It is best to wait a few days before making contact.
Whatever method you choose to do a follow-up, make sure you don’t send your customers a long message that will overwhelm or bore them. Instead, keep your request short and simple. Make sure to include a link to the site you’re wanting to gain the review on – Google, Facebook, Trip Advisor, your personal website – the choice is yours.
If people don’t respond to your email or SMS, it is fine to send another one – however, if you send more than one or two, you may annoy your customers and gain a negative review instead.
Social media is an easy and free way to reach your audience. You can post on your business pages asking for your customers to leave a review.
Do you own a physical store? One easy way to gain reviews doesn’t even involve digital marketing! Your store staff can see which customers are happy and who are return customers. You can ask these people if they will be happy to leave a review. Chances are, they will be more than happy to. Just make sure to be selective with the people you ask in-store – don’t ask people who haven’t purchased yet, who are in the middle of the service or who are disgruntled. Instead, build a positive rapport and wait until they have purchased or finished using your service.
Show in-app messages
Do you have an app? You can have a pop-up appear asking people to review your app. As with all requests for a review – timing is everything. You’ll need to make sure the customer is enjoying the app before you ask for a review. For example, social media platforms will ask you for a review once you have posted a status, photograph or finished watching a video. The platform can tell you are engaging with the app and using it as designed and are more likely to leave a positive review.
So when you’re trying to get reviews, what should you avoid doing?
What to avoid doing when getting reviews:
Pay for reviews
It’s tempting to give incentives to gain reviews. After all, people are more likely to leave a review if there’s something in it for them. However, it won’t take long for word to get out that your company pays people to leave reviews. This can negatively impact your company’s credibility. Instead, just ask your customers to leave a review; don’t worry about offering them money.
Not only will paying for reviews damage your credibility – depending on where you live, this practice may be illegal, and result in you incurring large fines of over $10,000.
Google is pretty good at finding fake or purchased reviews, and while Google won’t fine you, they will remove the review, meaning you’ll have paid for nothing.
Get staff to write reviews
The boss has told everyone to give the company a good review, so you should do what they say right? Wrong. Reviews should come from your customers, not your staff members. Most of the time, companies will list their team members on their website, or the person will be linked to the company on a social media platform. To give your business more legitimacy, make sure to only ask for customers to review.
Review the competition
It’s tempting to find the competition and give them a bad review. If people see the competition has bad reviews, that will make them want to come to your company instead. Search engines and platforms consider this behaviour to be unethical. Forget about your competitor and focus on gaining your own positive reviews.
Focus on one platform
Your Facebook business account has a 5-star rating, but you have zero reviews on Google. This may cause people to question whether your reviews are legitimate. Those who don’t use one platform will miss seeing your good reviews altogether. When gaining reviews, make sure to spread out where they are reviewing and make sure you maintain a good review across all platforms.
Respond to negative reviews poorly
Negative reviews have the potential to make or break a small business. They can be extremely stressful, especially if the negative review gets widely noticed. When a negative review happens, especially if you think it is unfair, it is tempting to write an angry response back.
However, when responding to negative reviews, you should always ensure you remain professional. You don’t want to further damage your business’ reputation by having an angry response that makes your customers not want to purchase your products or services.
Instead, make sure you remain polite and professional. Always offer to take the conversation offline – whether you offer for them to call you or have a private message. This ensures that the negative conversation doesn’t continue in public. People will instead be able to see that you responded to the customer’s complaint and haven’t just ignored them or got angry at them.
These tips will help you to gain more reviews in a way which abides by Google’s policies. Doing this will help you to not only increase your brand’s positive reputation but also boost your SEO.