Online Reviews – More Important Than Ever For SEO – Here Is What You Can Do

六月 28, 2012 by  Filed under: SEO 
 

Recently Google replaced Google Places with Google+ Local. One of the goals Google had in making the switch was to provide a platform where Google users can impact search results through their online reviews. Reviews are gaining importance in the way search engines locate you. Through Penguin, Panda, and Venus, Google has put the local into Local search. One of the main goals of the February updates was to help searchers with “more locally relevant predictions.” One of the criteria Google now considers in Search is the interaction between the user and the business. Online reviews appear to be one of the main components in the algorithm. This makes it important that your business has lots of reviews on lots of sites.

Reviews are becoming more important to the online user, as well. Reviews on sites such as Google+ Local, Yelp.com and Citysearch have become increasingly significant. People trust reviews. A Nielsen study released in 2009 underscored this. It found that 70% of respondents considered online reviews helpful and trustworthy. Only recommendations by friends ranked higher in the survey.

So now the question is, where do you get reviewed? There are thousands of places online where someone could review your business. Here are a few factors to consider which ones are best:

  • Syndication- Some reviews are syndicated around the web. Sites that get syndicated often include Citysearch, Insider Pages and Yahoo Local
  • Ease of reviewing – Sites where many people already have login ID’s are good places to look for. People are often discouraged to review a site if they have to create a user name and password. If they already have a login and password, that annoying step is unnecessary. The three sites listed above are good candidates, as well as Google Maps.
  • Vertical Sites – Vertical sites are committed to a specific industry. They are generally more trusted by search engines, and can be a good source of traffic. Some industries supported by virtual sites include travel (Trip Advisor), restaurants (Open Table), and health care (HealthGrades). Obviously there are others. You can run your own search to find them.

There are other factors to consider. Depending on your location and the demographics of your customer base, particular sites may be more useful. Some sites are more popular in certain regions of the country. Some local newspapers may have thriving sites where they are located, but have little impact elsewhere. Some sites appeal to different users. For instance, Angie’s list appears to urban reviewers who are concerned about the validity of reviews posted on the sites they visit. It’s a good practice to encourage reviews in several sources, as it’s hard to know which sites will be most used or trusted in the future.

Another thing to think about is that some of your customers are already adept at reviewing local businesses. Encourage these users to use their favorite review sites. Customers who are already familiar with a site and have a login ID are more likely to complete a review. Also, some sites have developed trust systems. They allocate more authority to reviewers who use the site regularly. Your business can benefit from a review form one of a sites trusted reviewers.

How do you get customers to provide a review? Well…

1. Ask them for one. When someone tells you that you did a great job, thank them for it. Tell them how much you appreciate their business. Then ask nicely if they would mind writing an online review.

2. If you have a Facebook page, ask your fans to review your business.

3. Send a note to your email mailing list.

4. Ask them in a follow-up email. Sending thank you emails is a good practice to have anyway. Including a request for online reviews in a thank you email is a good way to capture a review while your great service is still fresh in your customers’ mind. Make it easy for them by including links to popular review sites that your customer may have a login for already.

5. Provide an incentive. Offering a small token of thanks and entering online reviewers in raffles are two ways to provide incentives. This is frowned upon by some sites, Yelp for one, but are not by others. Yelp is a popular site that is difficult to manage.

Although the temptation is to ask only the happiest customers, it is a best practice to ask all your customers for reviews. You’ll get more reviews, which is what you’re after. The positive reviews will drown out the negative ones. Most sites will let a business owner respond to a bad review, so you can demonstrate your customer service credentials that way. Finally, there is less authenticity to sites that have nothing but 5 star reviews. There is a temptation to post fake positive reviews for your business. Many sites have figured out ways to detect a phony review. In fact, Yelp will significantly punish a business they suspect of doing this. Besides the questionable ethics, it is not a good practice to fake your reviews. Many review readers can sniff out something that is not authentic.

Beware that there are filthy businesses that will purposely post an unflattering review on your business. They will then call you and claim they have a proven method to remove the bad review. They’ll go on to back their claim by saying you won’t have to pay until the review is removed. Remember this. The only one who can remove an unflattering review is the one who posted it. So if they successfully removed it, well, you get the picture. Successful business people have better things to do than post damaging, phony reviews on their competitors. It is a practice you should not consider.

Customer reviews are becoming more prevalent than ever. As they become linked to social media accounts, people will see reviews written by their friends and contacts. The strength of online reviews will become even more influential. This is the idea behind Google+ Local. Be ready for this day by consistently asking for reviews now.

J.A. Moffitt is the President of Elvin Web Marketing. Elvin Web Marketing is the source for online marketing. Whether it’s getting on the first page of a Google search, improving your site content, blog writing, submitting your business to online directories, or social or email marketing, we an help! Call us at 203-882-0171. Visit our webpage at http://elvinwebmarketing.com.

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