Local SEO: How to Make User Reviews Work for Your Business


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User reviews have the power to multiply business that walks into your door or clicks on your website. A positive experience from a customer encourages others to try your products or services. About 93 percent of users check online reviews and other forms of user-generated content (e.g., images or ratings) before purchasing. Studies also show that 89 percent of consumers won’t buy until they read reviews from other customers.

A favorable review is especially crucial for local businesses to grow. When a resident or a tourist looks up a business like yours online and your company appears with a five-star rating and reviews from many other customers, expect to see an improvement in your revenue.

These user-generated content also builds a good reputation for your business, whether you own an established online retailer with a physical location or a new restaurant in an up-and-coming neighborhood.

Although you provide a good enough service or offer good products, waiting for customers to go on Yelp or Google Reviews to leave a rating and a comment isn’t always a reliable way to build user reviews.

You need to be proactive.

Steps to Encourage More Reviews

1. Find the right time to approach your clients

The right time is always crucial. Don’t prompt people for reviews if you’re not sure that they’re happy with the product or service they got. There will be times when the customer receives a wrong item, a non-working item, or they’re in the process of getting a product exchanged. 

You want to step in when you’re certain that the customer made a successful purchase.

Such times would be:

  • If they posted about your product
  • If you or your brand account got tagged on social media
  • If you see that they’re back on your website and browsing other items
  • If they repurchased the item

The right situations aren’t limited to the ones listed above since the buyer’s behavior and journey will depend on your company. So see for yourself, and judge when is the best time to approach your client for a review. For example, if you’re an SAAS company, then you may want to wait until the client subscribes for another month, or if they refer another customer. 

2. Personally ask your customers

If you have a major client that you know has the power to influence more visitors to buy your products or services, then you can personally reach out to them in a subtle way.

Call to see how they’re doing. Then subtly ask them if they would be interested in having their opinion posted on your website, or if you can set it up, a video would be also a great content to add to your pages.

3. Ask your clients through email

Asking for reviews via emails should be one of your priorities. This means that you’re also tying ratings, testimonials, or reviews to actual purchases. Emails can also be automated, so it’s easier to monitor. It will also allow you to evaluate who your satisfied and loyal clients are and pinpoint the ones who will likely recommend your business to others.

4. Encourage more Google Reviews

Google review is growing more popular in terms of online reviews compared to other review sites, like Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Facebook.

Google reviews can be accessed once you’ve activated your Google My Business account. It’s growing more in popularity since not only is it easier to see and access, but it also improves your local search ranking. 

Improving local SEO is important because a customer’s online experience starts with search engines, and Google is the largest search engine in the world.

To get more Google reviews, claim your Google My Business profile. Make sure that your listing stands out. You can do this by completing the basic and relevant business information first. You can include keywords, but don’t overdo it.

Make your listing look good by adding high quality images. Google listings help relay a visual story. People will want to see your products or what your store looks like. This will also help your business stand out from the competition.

5. Collect reviews from third-party review sites

Be open to creating multiple spaces for your clients to leave reviews. Be active on listings like Yelp, Amazon, Google, Facebook and others that are relevant to your industry. You can collect reviews from these websites and post them front and center on your webpage.

6. Optimize your webpages

An effective web design provides good user experience. And part of good user experience is providing site visitors with what they need. In this case, easy access to platforms so that they can communicate their concerns or experience with your products or services.

If you’re active in other listings like Yelp, Google, or TripAdvisor, you can also link or post your website badges somewhere in the review page.

People are Talking About Your Business Online

When a user lands on your website, they will consider how your website looks and the ease of using it. Technical aspects aside, the next thing they’re going to be concerned about is the product. 

Many questions will go through their minds. Does the item work? Will it look the way it does in the picture? Is it the right product to buy? Is the vendor trustworthy?

These questions can only be answered and validated by user reviews and ratings.

Why are Reviews Important for Sales and Local SEO?

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Imagine you’re in a restaurant and someone complains loudly about the soup having a bad taste. Chances are, you’re going to avoid ordering the same soup, or leave the restaurant altogether because the food is questionable or bad. 

Word-of-mouth is still a powerful kind of marketing because they are testimonies from real people, and user generated content is the equivalent of word-of-mouth online. 

More than four negative ratings about a product or brand can have a negative impact on sales by 70 percent. One bad review can have 35 percent of visitors opt out from buying an item.

Online reviews and other forms of user generated content are now crucial factors that can prompt purchase decisions, and this goes for any brand. Even brands like Prada and Louis Vuitton receive thousands and thousands of review-related searches each month. 

Here are the three most important benefits of reviews and ratings:

  • Influence purchase decisions

Consumers trust the verdict of other consumers, and it will push them to consider purchasing an item or a service. 

Many times, people who are reading reviews are those who are already interested in buying and are just looking for confirmation that the product is right for them.

Aim to encourage positive reviews, otherwise, negative reviews can push users to competitors. 

  • Boosts your business’s credibility

Once your product proves its effectiveness in real world use, more people will be interested in purchasing one for themselves. Positive reviews validate that what your product claims to do is true. This will then boost their confidence and assure them that you are a brand they can rely on.

  • Gains customer’s trust

Positive reviews validate your brand and everything you said it stands for. This will gain people’s trust and will likely recommend you to their family and friends.

  • SEO

Users usually write long comments, expressing everything they’ve experienced, and most of the time, it’s what other users are also looking for. Their reviews also provide Google crawlers with more contextual information, helping them validate your page and recommend it to more users.

If you’re a local business, then reviews will boost your local SEO and increase your local visibility. Google will detect locations of the users who left the review and will recommend your business to users located in the same area.

What to Do if You Receive Negative Feedback?

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Negative reviews are unavoidable. Most of the time, there will be customers who will be unhappy with a product or service. But try not to delete negative feedback in any of your accounts because it may show your unwillingness to correct a mistake or listen to customers.

Here’s how to properly handle negative reviews:

  • Check if the complaint is valid. 

Figure out what made the customer unhappy. Determine if other customers have experienced the same issue with the same product or service. Then learn how to improve.

  • Answer quickly. 

Keep a cool head. Always be polite and professional when dealing with clients. Offer your apologies and consider replacing the product or giving them a special deal.

  • Act on it. 

Replying politely is one thing, but make sure to follow through with the promise. Also, if you see that the feedback is repetitive or many other customers are saying the same thing, it’s time to take the necessary steps to fix the issue. 

The Key Takeaway

Reviews and ratings are a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy. Marketers use them to generate ideas that bolster content marketing strategies. It’s also a powerful social proof that will influence other users’ purchasing decisions.

Aside from the validation and credibility it provides your business, reviews help people who are shopping online, to see whether the product or service they’re planning to get will meet their expectations.

If your business is taking advantage of reviews, then you should see an increase in online (or in-store) traffic and sales.

Itamar Gero is the founder of SEO Reseller, a global digital marketing solutions provider that empowers agencies and their local clients all over the world. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).

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