Ask yourself this, what is the first thing you do when you’re looking for new information? For example, you want to know what is the best Italian restaurant in the North end of Boston; Is Oak or Maple a stronger wood for building a table (yes I have asked this question); or how to tie a Windsor tie? Whenever I’m looking to learn something new, my first immediate inclination is to open my computer, fire up Google, and ask my question. Many times I get exactly what I’m looking for – 479,000 results in fact.
Think about that, almost half a million searches matched my question, and instead of trying to discern which one best aligns with my inquiry, Google scrapes the internet in .86 seconds and ranks their results based on specific criteria. One powerful and important aspect that helps Google rank their results are online reviews.
Here is why reviews are important and how you can leverage them to make your company more searchable online.
How Google Prioritizes Reviews
Google’s algorithm allows them to scrape the entire internet and provide blazing fast results in a matter of milliseconds. Their algorithm and how it works is one of the best-kept secrets of the internet. However, after consulting a few SEO experts there seems to be a list of qualifications that Google looks for to help them categorize their ranking system. In an effort to not completely bore you to death, here is a quick summary (if you want to go into more detail, email me!)
- Keyword usage
- Site structure
- Site speed
- Time spent on site
- Number of inbound links
- Quality of inbound links
The reviews that you collect are relevant because if you collect reviews on your site, it keeps the content new and fresh, while also improving two of these six major areas: Keyword Usage, and Time Spent on Site.
How Online Reviews Help Keyword Usage for Service Businesses
If someone is publishing a review on your company they most likely are using words that you want to be associated with (assuming that the review is positive). Say you’re a plumbing company and you’re frequently asking your customers to leave reviews. I could see them writing something like this:
“I had a great experience with Joe’s HVAC. He fixed my AC unit in a matter of minutes and was friendly, clean, and quoted me a fair price. I highly recommend Joe’s HVAC to anyone looking for HVAC repairs in the Louisville area. “
In this review, I bolded the strong keywords and phrases that help build Joe’s HVAC online reputation in Google’s eyes.
How Online Reviews Help Time Spent on Site for Service Businesses
Let’s say your reviews are starting to hit critical mass and you have a good amount to boast about. Simply the breadth and depth of your reviews will keep people engaged on your site. It’s like browsing IMDB….you only went to the site to see how old Harrison Ford is…then, 45 minutes later, you’re now an expert on his life and every piece of cinematography he’s ever been in.
Reviews work in the same way. People read one review, then another, and another…and before you know it, they’ve been on your site 5-10 minutes longer because of the reviews.
The Power of Online Reviews
Reviews are powerful – there is no denying that. Nearly 90% of consumers say positive reviews influence their purchasing decision.
Now reviews aren’t the end-all-be-all of your online presence. According to MOZ, they tend to only account for driving 10% of a website’s traffic. But 10% is 10%, and if you want to “stump with the big dogs,” paying attention and curating reviews is a necessary step in the process of building your service company.
What to do from here?
As you can see, customer reviews have the potential to make or break your brand’s credibility. Too many negative reviews can deter someone from purchasing your product before they even get a chance to talk to you.
So how do you limit the number of negative reviews posted to your site while improving those beneficial five-star ones? Here are ten actionable ways for you and your team to boost your online reputation, build your brand names trust and ultimately improve what others say about you online.
Make changes based on feedback
Make it known that you listen to reviews by responding to them online. Set aside 10 minutes every day to quickly scan your reviews and respond to them. Being this active shows your customers that you care.
Claim your business on review sites
Sites live Yelp, Facebook, and Google are great places to start building your online reputation. Claim those pages on these sites to allow people to submit their reviews.
Ask happy customers
You obviously want positive reviews so make sure to ask your happy customers to write one.
Ask the legacy customers
Customers who have been a client of yours for a long time are much more willing to leave a review than new ones. By asking this group you’re tapping into the norm of reciprocity.
Make it easy for people to leave reviews
Purchase a system that allows you to automatically send the customer a text message and email immediately after the work is completed asking them to leave a review of your service. The longer you wait the easier it is for life to get in the way of your customer and therefore forget to leave a review.