Getting Local Reviews
No matter how great your link building, on-site SEO, page-speed, or SEO is in general, there is one truth:
If you don’t have a review building strategy in place, you’re on shaky ground.
You might have a phenomenal product or service and then Jeremy Jamm walks in.
He’s had a bad day, his wife is leaving him and his business isn’t doing so hot.
As he engages with your business some minor thing happens and it ends up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
He gets angry and lashes out at you or a staff member and leaves upset.
The next day you wake up to a scathing review from Jeremy Jamm demonizing your business.
A review like this gem?
This is a negative review of my favorite steakhouse where I live.
You need a reservation to eat there or if you can find space at the bar, you can seat yourself and be served by a bartender.
Everything about this place is amazing. The food, atmosphere, staff, everything.
You don’t go to a steakhouse and order a burger.
Funny enough, if you look at this person’s other reviews, they rave about a fast food joint a few miles away.
You get my point, if you don’t have a system or process in place to get new, positive reviews, you’re business isn’t going to live up to its ranking potential.
Oh, yeah, by the way, reviews DO influence your rankings.
On the Google My Business help article called “Improve your local ranking on Google“, under Prominence, you see this:
You can even geek out on patents if you want to.
Here’s one granted in April, 2013 on “Sentiment detection as a ranking signal for reviewable entities.“
Different Tactics To Get Reviews
Let’s start with the things you’re not allowed to do:
- Incentivize customers: You can’t offer current or past clients a discount, prize, raffle, gift card, or anything like that.
- Review-gating: If you’re emailing customers or texting them asking to score your product or service, you are not allowed to allow them to write a review if they scored you high.
Bad things can happen if you do any of the above.
There are a plethora of third-party review platforms out there that offer this as a service. Once you set it up, you input (or automate) a customer’s email address and name and the tool does the rest. The only third-party platform I recommend is GatherUp.
GatherUp also offers SMS messaging, too. Instead of emailing a client asking for feedback, you send them a text message with the same goal.
If your service involves you going to a customers home, a leave-behind might be a good option. This would be a printout that thanks the customer for their business and asks the customer to leave a review. Handwritten notes tend to do pretty well compared to a generic printout.
Incentivize Your Team:
Earlier I said you can’t incentivize but now I’m recommending it? Correct, you CAN’T incentivize your customers but you CAN incentivize your team.
You might be taking your online reputation seriously but your team might not be. There is nothing wrong with getting your team on board by offering an incentive for reviews. This can be used with a leave-behind or the team can ask customers.
eg. If the company is able to get 5 new reviews next month, you’ll have a pizza party for them.
Cash works too.
Which Tactic Works Best?
I don’t know is a better answer than “it depends”.
You should test these methods and figure out what works best for your business.
If your business caters to an older crowd, email might not work very well, or it might work very well.
I have seen it work well with one client and not work at all with another.
This is why testing is so important.
Test each tactic for 2-4 months before trying another.
What Sites Should You Get Reviews On?
Google My Business should be a priority, always.
While doing searches for your primary keywords and see third-party sites (Yelp, A Place For Mom, Avvo, etc) ranking well for your keywords, you should consider adding them to your list.
I would also include Facebook.
You should have no more than 4 different websites you’re trying to earn reviews on at any given time.
If Yelp is on your list, be careful.
It’s against Yelp’s guidelines to even ask for reviews.
You can change the wording from “Write us a review on Yelp” to “Check out our reviews on Yelp”.
Should I Respond To Reviews?
Positive reviews: Yes.
Negative reviews: Yes.
Don’t get lazy and respond with the same wording for every review.
Remember, potential customers can see how you respond.
When you receive a negative review, before responding, follow these steps:
- Walk away from your computer for 5-10 minutes
- Get some fresh air
- Sit back down to type your response
- Address their complaints and take ownership of their experience
- Don’t be defensive but explain your side
- Remember that everyone will be able to read your response
Don’t send out mass emails or text messages to every single one of your current or previous customers.
If your review velocity goes from 1 review every 6 months to 10 reviews in a few days, those reviews will likely get filtered as spam.
Slow your roll and send out those text messages and emails out over an extended period of time.
This is not a one-and-done strategy, this needs to be baked into your business.
Earning great reviews is a long-term play and you will get frustrated at times.
There will always be Jeremy Jamm’s in the world.