Regardless of what your company sells, online reviews likely play a critical role in promoting your company and protecting your brand’s reputation. This is unsurprising, as 90% of people admit to reading online reviews before visiting a business, and online reviews have been shown to impact nearly 70% of purchasing decisions. It is then important that businesses manage their online reviews and prompt customers to leave reviews for their products/services, as this can play a key role in their SEO strategy. In fact, it is believed that online reviews account for nearly 10% of how Google decides to rank search results. This led to a large push a few years ago where companies aggressively sought out customer reviews. While there are several reasons why it is not a good idea to aggressively seek out customer reviews, with the potential to alienate customers being one of them, promoting and managing online reviews should still be central to your company’s reputation management SEO strategy. To help you get the most out of your online review opportunities, here is a look at a few dos and don’ts for promoting customer reviews.

 

Do: Claim Your Review Pages

 

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Even if you have not been managing your online reviews or encouraging customers to leave reviews for your business, it is likely that your company is already listed and receiving reviews on popular review websites such as Yelp, Google, Facebook, or Tripadvisor. In order to effectively manage and solicit reviews, it is critical that you claim your business’s pages on these websites. Claiming these pages will give you access to member features such as the ability to edit your company’s profile. This will ensure that all of the information listed about your company is up-to-date, and it allows you to upload pictures that show off your business, products, and/or services to prospective customers. Claiming your page also allows you to respond to negative comments. The last thing that you want is to encourage customer reviews and not be able to respond to potentially damaging reviews. If a page does not exist for your company on Yelp or Google My Business, creating one will be essential before you begin promoting customer reviews.

 

Don’t: Pressure Customers Into Leaving Reviews

 

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After claiming/creating your business’s review pages, you will need to start encouraging customers to leave positive reviews after making a purchase or using your services. However, it is imperative that you are careful in how you go about soliciting reviews. If you put too much pressure on customers to leave a review, this could alienate them against doing future business with your company, which may even prompt them to leave a bad review. A simple way to cultivate positive reviews from your customers is to send out an email to customers soliciting reviews following a transaction. While it is possible to send out automated emails that solicit reviews following a purchase, personalized emails are more likely to receive a response.

 

Do: Give Customers Multiple Options

 

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As you begin soliciting customers for reviews, it is essential that you give customers multiple options for where they can post reviews. While you may find yourself working primarily with Google My Business, this may not be the most convenient platform for all of your customers. Customers may find themselves drawn to a certain review site, and they may choose not to leave a review if you insist on using Google. This makes it critical that you manage profiles for your company on more than one review site. Giving customers multiple options increases the likelihood that they will leave a review, particularly if they already actively use one of the platforms you suggest.

 

Don’t: Generate False Reviews

 

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It is particularly important that you do not post fake reviews. For many businesses, generating fake reviews can be a tempting way to overcome a lack of reviews, and it may seem like a simple way to boost their rating fast if they have recently received several negative reviews. However, customers can often see through fake reviews, and for many customers, fake reviews make your business look untrustworthy. Instead of helping your business, posting fake reviews can harm your reputation. Additionally, many of the larger review sites have begun to police businesses’ pages for fake reviews. If you are caught posting fake reviews, this could get your company banned from review sites, which could have disastrous consequences for your company’s SEO. Ultimately, posting fake reviews is not worth the potential fallout such as a potential drop in business.

 

Do: Be Careful When Responding to Reviews

 

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Responding to feedback is an essential part of managing customer reviews. This gives you an opportunity to engage with customers and make amends if a customer is not satisfied with your products/services. However, you need to be careful when doing so, particularly when responding to negative reviews.

It is important that you do not overreact when responding to negative reviews. It is easy to get emotional when you see a negative review, however, it is imperative that you are always helpful, polite, and respectful when responding to reviews. Using defensive language, or openly arguing with customers, when responding to reviews can taint your brand’s reputation.

Before you begin soliciting customers for reviews, it is then essential that you formulate a plan for how you will respond to online reviews. Ensuring that you are professional and helpful in all of your responses will not only showcase your quality customer service, but it will also encourage others to post reviews by demonstrating that your company is open to feedback and constructive criticism.

 

Don’t: Get in Over Your Head

 

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While encouraging customers to leave reviews is essential for SEO, managing customer reviews across multiple platforms is a lot of work. You need to monitor activity on these review sites, respond to reviews when possible, ask customers for reviews, and make sure that you are keeping up with the latest SEO best practices. This can quickly become overwhelming for small businesses with minimal resources, particularly if you receive numerous reviews across multiple sites.

You should then make sure that you set realistic expectations for yourself. While you want to give customers options, do not try to manage profiles on more review websites than you have time for. Additionally, while it is easy to obsess over negative reviews, it is important to acknowledge that you will not have time to respond to everyone.

 

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Of course, if you find yourself in over your head when attempting to solicit and manage customer reviews, it may be time to consider enlisting professional help. Feel free to contact us to get help developing a lead generation and SEO reputation management strategy that will meet your company’s needs.

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