The Relationship Between Online Reviews and Local Optimization
The percentage of consumers who research their purchases online before buying grows every year and shows no sign of slowing down. Therefore, having a strong online presence is extremely important and influential in the growth of your business.
Understanding the world of customer reviews is a must for every local business owner. It can mean the difference between respect and disdain in your community.To this end, local optimization can be used as a means of both protecting and promoting the reputation of your business.
How to Get Online Reviews
Earning a steady stream of customer reviews is one of the most important pieces of a local business’s online marketing campaign. Customer reviews can improve a business’s rankings on any search engine, and consumer research suggests they are a key piece of a customer’s purchasing decision.
For example, a roofing contractor marketing campaign would utilize local optimization to differentiate their service from that of their competitors. To the average online visitor, company websites provide information on what service the roofing company offers, but an online review indicates the quality of service they deliver.
Since you, the business owner, know how important reviews are, make sure your customers know, too. Now is the time to develop a plan to reach out to them and ask them to leave public feedback for your business.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to take into consideration, when working on local optimization:
- Link to your review profiles from your website.
- Create simple print materials. These should be given to customers at the time of service, and contain a list places where they can post reviews.
- Train staff in direct contact with customers to request a review from them upon completion of service.
- Follow up with an email. After completion of service, follow up with an email linking to places the customer can review your business.
- Request reviews during an after-service follow-up phone call.
- Let your customers review your business at their review site of choice. Review diversity is good for both customers and search engines.
- Use review stations in your place of business.
- Write fake reviews for your own business.
- Pay a third party to post fake reviews, posing as a customer.
- Pay a third party to post any review on behalf of anyone else. Customers must leave their own reviews using their own accounts.
- Promote too many reviews at once. They may trip filters at the review sites that will cause the reviews to be deleted.
If you plan on running your business for a long time to come, you have time to acquire reviews in the coming months and years, building up an exceptional online record of your company’s consistent good service.
Review Guidelines for Main Review Sites
If you discover a listing for your business or decide to create a listing for your business where one doesn’t currently exist, one of your first steps after establishing your listing should be to make sure you understand the site’s policies around customer reviews.
Not every review entity publishes clear review guidelines, but where they do exist, you should read and understand them. Some key review sites include: Google+ Local, Yelp, Foursquare, Yahoo!, Citysearch, YP.com, UrbanSpoon, TripAdvisor, Facebook
It’s important to note that when reviews are lost due to a guideline violation or a bug, they almost never get re-published. Your best insurance against the loss of reviews is to know and follow the guidelines for each website.
I hope that what you learn here will empower you to make the right decisions in your online marketing and achieve the highest possible online visibility—turning the web into an incredible tool for your business and also for your customers.
For more great information on whether your marketing efforts are paying off, contact one of our specialists at Art Unlimited today.