How Customers Determine Your Online Success
With the rise of smart phones, mobile devices and local search, online reviews for local businesses play a huge role in conversions for searchers and potential customers alike. If you’re a local restaurant or business and you only have 2 out of 5 stars, more often then not searchers will select your competitor with higher ratings and customer satisfaction. As a business owner this may be frustrating at first, but online reviews don’t just give prospective customers a peak inside your establishment, they can also give you valuable insights on areas you can approve upon that you normally wouldn’t have been aware of.
So what can you do as a local business owner to capitalize on this technology? Search engines and local search is definitely here to stay, so make sure to follow some of the tips and guidelines below in order to optimize your reach to local prospective customers and capitalize on already existing customers.
Online Review Guidelines
In order to improve your business’s local search engine optimization with reviews, you have to make sure to follow some simple guidelines. Each review website has their own rules, so make sure to follow the simple steps below to maximize the impact each review your business gets.
Things That Will Hurt Your Business
Make sure to avoid these common mistakes that can ruin your online reputation.
- Never ask for reviews on Yelp. According to Yelp, the most you can do is mention that your business “is on Yelp”, you can not ask your customers to leave reviews on your Yelp profile directly. For more information, view Yelp’s review guidelines.
- Don’t ask your customers to leave you a good review. This rule violates all of the major review website’s guidelines. Instead, just remind your customers to leave a review (except on Yelp), and leave it up to them whether it’s good or bad.
- Never create fake reviews on your profiles. So you think you can trick customers into thinking your business is great by leaving fake 5-star reviews? Think again, most review sites, especially Google, keep track of IP addresses and other types of identifiable information each time a review is submitted. So not only will your reviews eventually be deleted, it can land you a penalty with the site and/or have your business listing removed.
- Never have a review station at your location. I’ll admit, on the surface this seems like a great idea. Catching customers on their way out the door seems like the most opportune time for them to leave a review. But due to most review website’s guidelines and current algorithms, having the same IP address and location for every review will trigger their fraudulent review alarms and cause them to disregard or even delete those reviews.
- Never offer cash or merchandise to customers to write good reviews for your business or write negative reviews about your competitors. This tactic strictly violates Google’s review guidelines and could potentially get your listing banned.
Review Tips That Will Help Your Business
Make sure to implement these tactics in order to improve your local reputation.
- Make your customers happy with great customer service. The best reviews in life come free. In today’s online world, you have to treat every customer that comes through the door as if they are the king or queen of the world. You might think that only people who are disappointed or angry leave reviews, but you would be wrong. People who are happy with your service have the same smart phones and computers the angry people have. If you treat them well, they’ll be happy to leave your business a great review.
- Ask them to leave a review (except for Yelp). As long as there is no monetary transaction taking place, there is nothing wrong with asking or reminding customers to leave you a review online.
- Create a review page on your website so visitors can easily access all of your social media profiles and review website URL’s. Directing your customers to a specific page on your website where all of your profiles are listed, greatly increases your chances of getting new reviews rather than just leaving it up to them to find each of your profiles on their own. This also gives the users a chance to leave reviews on multiple sites.
- Create off-site materials to advertise to and remind customers that your business is active on social media and popular review sites. If your business needs more check-ins, create a banner, poster, and/or business card with a QR code or URL that points directly to your specific online profile (Yelp, Foursquare, etc.) so the customer can immediately check in without having to search for your business online.
- Remind your customers to leave reviews. Whether in person or by email, there’s nothing wrong with reminding folks to leave a review (unless you are reminding them to do it on Yelp). Just make sure to space it out so you don’t overwhelm them and come across as annoying. A great way to do this is to include all of your major social media profiles in your correspondence with them, like a newsletter or follow-up email. Having these links in the footer is a great way to capture their attention when the time is right.
In the End, Think Long-Term
It appears the internet and search giants like Google are here to stay. Their algorithms and engineers are only getting better at catching spam and fraudulent marketing techniques, and they’re impact on the consumer’s decision making ability is only growing. So if you follow the simple steps listed above and avoid short-term marketing schemes, your business will have a very long and prosperous online future.