If you’re like a lot of business owners, you’ve done your research about the importance of reviews. You know that a huge majority of internet users rely on reviews of businesses to make purchasing decisions, and you’ve probably put a lot of effort into managing your review pages, responding to negative reviews, and demonstrating how helpful you are to potential customers. All of that is great, and you should keep doing it.
What’s the problem, then? If you’re taking those reviews and sticking them on a Testimonials page on your website, you’re undoing all your hard work. Here’s why.
Testimonial Page and Visitor Trust
But wait, you might be thinking. Didn’t I just say that the majority of customers rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions?
Note the language. They rely on reviews, not testimonials. It doesn’t matter if your testimonials started out as reviews. The moment you pick one out and stick it on your website, it’s a testimonial – something you solicited from a customer you knew was happy and satisfied.
Even if you include a few less than stellar reviews in the mix, it’s unlikely that customers will even bother to visit the page. They are going to assume that you picked out the best of the best and that they won’t learn anything real about your company, products, or service by visiting the page.
In case you’re still not convinced, let’s envision a scenario where a company culls their best online reviews to put on their website. A customer decides to read them, and then – still unconvinced – decides to bounce over to Yelp to see what the people there have to say.
How do you think it will affect your credibility if there’s a significant disconnect between what’s on your site and your average Yelp rating? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not going to do you any favors. Customers want to see honest reviews, including the negative ones – and they want to see how you respond to the bad reviews.
It’s also important to note that the changes that Google made to local business information on Google+ mean that the only thing customers will see there are your location information and your reviews. You might as well make the most of them.
How to Link to Reviews
If you’re wondering how you can harness the power of reviews while avoiding the pitfalls I have described above, don’t worry. I’m about to tell you. The key here is to link to (not copy) reviews from your website, and to do so in a way that doesn’t step on anybody’s toes. Here’s what you need to do.
- Ditch the “Testimonials” page and make it a “Reviews” page instead.
- At the top of the page, put a few sentences about how you think it’s important for potential customers to hear what existing customers think of you. With that in mind, you’re providing them with some quick and easy links so they can see for themselves.
- For every link you include, make sure to use the target=”_blank” command so that the review site opens in a separate tab. You don’t want to encourage people to navigate away from your page, so don’t skip this step.
- Put a link to Google reviews at the top of your page. Google reviews are always going to be at the top of any list of search results, so you might as well list them first on your page.
- Do not link directly to your Yelp page. That might not seem to make sense, but Yelp frowns on direct links, so you want to make it look like visitors from your site are arriving at Yelp via organic search. The way to do that is to do a Google search for [your business] Yelp, and then copy the link to the SERP (search engine results page) URL. When visitors click it, they will be taken to the Google SERP page with Yelp at the top of the listings where they can easily click it.
- Do the same thing for any other relevant review sites, including Angie’s List and industry-specific sites.
The point of doing things like this is that you get all the benefit of directing customers to reviews without the suspicious element of listing them on your own website. Whether you agree with the perception that Testimonial pages are not to be trusted or not, the fact is that customers want to feel they have access to unbiased and honest reviews that are a true reflection of what they can expect if they do business with you.
Tips for Handling Reviews
If you’re worried about linking to unfiltered review pages, there is actually a very easy two-part solution that can alleviate that fear altogether:
- Do a great job of monitoring your review pages and replying in a professional and helpful manner to negative reviews. I know, it seems obvious – but sometimes the obvious solution really is the best one. If you want to be sure that customers are getting a clear picture of your great products and services, show them how important customers are by giving great customer service. It’s not rocket science – nor should it be.
- Some customers might leave a review anyway, but there’s no harm in encouraging them to do so. By providing a card, you’re making it easy.
If you find yourself resisting the idea of doing away with Testimonials, think of it this way. You still have them, you’re only changing the name. If you were listing only rave reviews on your site, the chances are good that your customers would go seek out the rest of your reviews in spite of that. This way, you’re being upfront with them about your reviews, which shows them you have nothing to hide.
At JVI Mobile, we are passionate about creating and growing awesome social relationships. Tell us how we can help! We’ve got a crack team literally at your fingertips!
While you are here, check out your online reputation score.
Reputation management may sound like something that only applies to large companies or requires deep pockets. In fact, neither of the above is true. Though all small business owners are busy from dawn until well into the night just making a profit, ignoring your online reputation can cause major damage to your prime objective- maximizing your profit!
To help you succeed, we’ve collected four of the best articles on reputation management for you and included a fifth which you can’t miss!
1. Online Reputation Management: How to Counteract Bad Feedback
Start with Virtual Social Media’s summary on why businesses of all sizes can’t ignore their online reputations.
2. 5 Ways to Take Control Over Your Startup’s Public Image
Luis Gallardo provides great insight on how to gauge and measure your audience’s response to your next big product launch. Though geared for startups, it’s a must-read for all small business owners.
3. 6 Keys to a Positive Online Presence and Reputation
Starting with the basics, Martin Zwilling gives you six simple steps to improve how others view you online.
4. 4 Key Metrics In Repairing Your Reputation Online
If you’re coming here because you’ve gotten sideways, you’ll definitely want to start here, with four ways to start fixing it fast!
And our bonus to you: Reputation Management for Local Small Businesses: Ten Professional Tips
If you only read one of these articles, make this the one! Zach Anderson gives you ten top tips for maximizing your online reputation. It’s a real can’t miss for the passionate business owner. We’re so impressed with Reputation Loop’s programs that we’ve partnered with them as a licensed agency. You can check out our reputation management offerings here.
Know that you’re not alone out there! The JVI Mobile team has the resources and know-how to begin or expand on your current reputation management programs.
Let us help you find out how you are doing now and take your results to new highs! At JVI Mobile, we are passionate about creating and growing awesome social relationships. We are happy to help guide you on your way!
Want to learn how to generate hundreds of real reviews for your business? Our simple, automated software allows your business to get tons of positive reviews to all of the major review sites. A simple one-star increase typically increases revenue from 5-8%!
You’ve done it – taken the plunge and entered the online world. You are even using social media now for your business. But do I really need to worry about online reviews from my customers? The short answer is YES!
In today’s inter-web driven world, a business must be online to succeed. However, utilizing that online power is what will drive your business to succeed or will dig its early grave. Consumers today are all about gaining instant information about a business to help them make an educated buying decision.
In fact, statistics have shown that most consumers today will not shop at a new business until they have read their reviews. Social media has created a way for consumers to respond immediately about their experience with a business and it is shared with the world.
The same holds true for your business, online reviews from your customers are important to the success of your business. There are many benefits of customer reviews, including free advertising, improved search engine rankings, reviews can provide a more direct relationship with your customers, and they can really set you apart from your competition. So now that you understand the importance of online reviews, let’s look at some ways in which you can actually get more reviews from your customers, and really boost your business reputation.
- The most important thing you can do to generate more positive online reviews, is to take care of your customers 110%. This may sound rather silly, but happy customers will leave positive reviews if they feel like you’ve gone above and beyond. Pretty simple concept – but very effective when practiced. If there is a problem with an order or service, take care of it immediately, and make it right. Look at negative reviews as an opportunity to provide exceptional customer service & turn a negative into a positive. Customers value integrity.
- Pay attention to your reviews and online comments daily (even multiple times a day if needed). You can setup Google Alerts to notify you every time someone mentions your business or website online, or use a service like JVI Mobile Marketing or Likeable Local to monitor your online reviews for you.
- Make an effort and keep your social presence active– answer questions, thank customers, make comments about upcoming sales or new releases, and more. Give them that extra attention that consumers thrive on. The more you are engaged with your audience, the more they will interact with you, which will lead to more reviews and more buzz.
- Do not be afraid to ask for honest reviews from your customers. You don’t be pushy, but explain to them that your business thrives on reviews from customers and if they had a good experience to please help spread the word.
- Leave an amazing impression – In order to elicit a comment or review, you must make the experience memorable to the consumer. This goes back to making sure that you take care of the consumer and that they are happy with the experience. When you do this, often times the rest will happen naturally!
- If you do receive a bad review, it’s okay – but do not EVER fire back in defense about your company, product or employee.Instead, thank the consumer for the comment or review and make it right. Most cases, that’s all it takes to “make lemonade out of lemons” and more often than not, if you play it cool and fix whatever issue they had they’ll update their original review. Now, not only do you have a happy customer, you have social proof of excellent customer service- voila!
- Make it stupidly easy for your customers to leave a review. The easier the better. One great strategy is to setup a “feedback page” on your website, with links to all of your review pages like Google Local, CitySearch, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc. Simply direct happy customers to this page, and then they can choose which option is easiest for them.
- Add a “Call to Action” to receipts and invoices. By simply adding a call to action at the bottom or your receipt, you are letting your customers know you value their feedback.
- Print out and display customer reviews in key areas of your business, preferably where most customers will see them. Not only does this demonstrate
that you take the customer experience seriously but also you also are appealing to their ego – Are they next to be featured?
- Thank reviewers publically on Twitter. Another great way to encourage more positive reviews is by acknowledging your existing positive reviews. Your customers like being acknowledged and you are demonstrating that their reviews have an impact.
- One of the best ways to your number customer reviews and comments, is by making the review process part of increase your work process. In short, explain to your employees the importance of asking customers for their review. When you implement an incentive program with your employees, they will suddenly begin asking all customers to do a review.
No matter what strategies you choose to increase the number of online reviews, keep in mind that it is only one part of the marketing process. Follow-up is key in keeping the reviews coming and ensuring that your business thrives from these reviews and comments. If you do not participate in the review process by responding back and engaging in conversation, you will eventually stop receiving reviews.
The review process today is about engaging with the consumer and making them feel like they are a part of the bigger picture. Consumers want an experience. Let’s be honest – they can purchase your service or product anywhere. So give them what they want – good products or services, good customer service, and good feedback. When you involve and engage with your consumers, they will invest in your business, creating repeat business and a virtually free referral and advertising network for you!
Our 7th issue of Clicks Magazine is out, and it is a good one. For those that don’t know, Clicks is a digital marketing guide that we curate and sponsor with relevant tips and tricks for small business. The articles are timely, informative, valuable and relevant for any local company. All of the strategies and tips in each issue are also things that JVI Mobile can help teach you and your staff to generate more reach, close more deals, grow a positive reputation and dominate your market!
Here are some highlights from this issue, in an infographic format:
Click here to download the latest issue of CLICKS issue 7!
JVI Mobile Marketing has been in the reputation management business for nearly four months. We are helping several businesses generate hundreds of reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook and more. This is not only good for the obvious reasons, like word of mouth and building trust, it also has another huge meaning, often overlooked. Search Engine Rankings.
We don’t really talk much about offering SEO services, but we do often let people know that by using our services, they will naturally rank higher. We are proud partners with Reputation Loop and sell their services, customize it for your business, and put it to work.
Their co-Founder wrote a great article today, and we wanted to share it. The original post can be found at:
Using Customer Reviews to Improve SEO
Word of mouth is very important to a small business, especially a business that relies on the local market for sales. The most powerful signal for the local customer of your business’s ability to fulfill their needs and solve the problems of its customers are online customer reviews. Highly influential, and trusted more than personal referrals from friends and family, online reviews are consulted by nearly 90% of consumers either regularly or occasionally and 72% of those consumers stated that positive reviews make them trust a business more according to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey.
What we are now seeing is that online customer reviews are also being seen by search engines as a powerful signal of whether or not your webpages are a good match for local search results. It is the job of your search engine to give you the best information, which is how they get you to continue to use their search engine and how they make money selling ad space. It makes sense that highly reviewed and high rated businesses would appear high in local search results as the best choices to fulfill your local buying needs. Whether it is a restaurant, mechanic, or dentist, search engines like Google have recognized that the majority of buyers are looking at reviews. And if it is important to the consumer than it is important to the search engine to give their users what they want.
How Search Engines Look at Your Customer Reviews
Local search marketing authority, MOZ, dug deep into the search engine data and found that review signals rank as high as fifth on local search engine ranking factors. So out of overall factors for local search rankings, your business’s online customer reviews were highly regarded, ranking just after My Business, NAP/Citation, On-Page Signals, and Link Signals in importance – all online factors that are largely in your control.
Review signals are the data, content and other aspects of the online customer reviews that search engines are dissecting and analyzing to determine how an overall value to your reviews. You can’t rate your own business and write customers’ reviews but with the importance of online customer reviews growing you should be putting emphasis on doing what you can to influence how often you get reviewed and how highly you are rated.
In the past two years Google has put a much larger ranking power on customer reviews, putting them front and center in the carousel and showing snippets of reviews on search engine results pages. Getting those golden star reviews and positive online reputation to pop out in search engine results helps click-through rates and Google is all in favor of more clicks and more user engagement.
When you know what is influencing your business’s review signal you’ll know what you need to do to put your online customer reviews to work for you as part of your search engine marketing and SEO strategies.
What is influencing your review signal?
Review Quantity and Velocity
The more positive customer reviews your business has online, the more influence you have over consumer buying decisions and search engine rankings. How quickly you’re able to get those reviews (velocity) also shows how highly trust-worthy your business is and is a good indication of how naturally those reviews were collected. Both consumers and customers see your ability to impress the customer enough to post a positive reviews as a good indication of the quality of your business, and its service or product.
Third Party Traditional Reviews – Authority, Diversity & Quantity
Google reviews are great, but they are not the be-all and end-all of the review signal. It is also important to have reviews on other trusted third-party sites. Authority sites hold more influence and your business’s ability to gather high marks on a variety of authority sites really helps. Authority matters more than diversity, which means that Yelp reviews are going to be weighed heavily while reviews from BestSacramentoDentist.com will likely not matter at all in local SEO review signal, but will help with keyword search for “best Sacramento dentist”.
Getting your customer reviews into the microdata and showing up as rich snippets on search engine results pages really makes your business pop out on the page. And when there is so much competition for clicks on local search results a golden five-star ratings immediately draws the eye, gets attention and starts the process of building trust with the consumer. Businesses who use Reputation Loop to automate the customer review process and build their five-star reputation utilize a widget that creates these gold eye-popping gold star ratings in search engine results.
Content and Keywords
You don’t write your customer reviews (and if you do stop before you get in trouble) so you have very little control over the content and have to cross your fingers that keywords that matter to you and search engines can find their way in there. But obviously a two-word five-star “Love them!” review isn’t going to be as effective as a five-star “Love everything about my dentist. He’s the best in Sacramento. Wouldn’t get my kids’ braces done anywhere else.” because dentist, Sacramento, and braces are words that search engine users are searching for.
Using Customer Reviews in your SEO
There are a few other factors that make up your review signal but we are going to focus on the ones you can do something about. So here is what you can do to get your online customers review working over-time for you by making them part of your SEO strategy:
1. Have a Customer Review Plan and Process
As important as online customer reviews and high local search rankings are to your business growth and success you can’t leave this to chance. Your process should include how you will solicit reviews, how you will collect reviews, how you will handle negative reviews, as well as how and where you will post reviews.
This isn’t an overly complicated process but taking into consideration that you will want to get as many positive reviews as possible it can be time consuming. A smart option is to enlist the low-cost but highly effective online reputation services of a company like Reputation Loop whose software automates the entire process of generating customer feedback and turning positive feedback into online ratings and reviews. Customers giving positive feedback are asked to click through to leave that review on your selected review sites such as Google and Yelp. But if the feedback is negative the information is directed back to the business and away from review sites so business owners have a chance to address negative experiences before they end up online. A ton of other features all come together to make Reputation Loop an easy choice for nearly hands-free review management to build customer review quantity and velocity while building a five-star online reputation.
2. Diversify Your Review Sites
Find out where your customers are and be there. That applies to so many aspects of marketing and selling your business and online is no exception. Google is important and Yelp is important but your industry has its authority review sites. Find out what they are, establish your business profile and page, and make sure that some of your reviews are being funneled there.
3. Get Your Gold Stars on Search Engine Result Pages
Stand out and be seen by getting the average of your star reviews front and center with your business name on search engine results pages. Reputation Loop users can do this easily, but if you’re more of a DIY business owner and webmaster you can visit the Google Developers Structured Data page on Enabling Rich Snippets for Reviews and Ratings to get examples, definitions, tips and code to get your gold stars seen.
Customer reviews have a direct impact on local search results, and knowing what you can do to get more and better customer reviews on the right place online means you have an advantage over your competitors. When you can gather and post more five-star reviews and have those ratings pop out on search engine results pages you become the clear winner in the battle for the consumers’ dollars.