30 Sep 2010

Online Reviews – Make ’em Count

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Increasing Google Page Rank Through Online Reviews

You’ve got a local business listing on Google as well as hundreds of other popular search engines and web directories. It’s been optimized for all the right keywords. You’ve even started a blog and social media pages so that Google sees you’re constantly putting up fresh, new information. All these things have helped move your local listing up in Google page ranking, and you’re getting closer and closer to that coveted number one spot. But you need that extra push to get you to the top. It’s time to focus on online customer reviews.

Online ratings

Now it’s time to turn to your customers for help. Not only does Google search your site for keywords and content, but it also searches the rest of the web for your name. If your name is mentioned a lot, you move up in the rankings. And one of the best ways to get your name out and around the web is through online reviews. A good number of online reviews can take you from the second page of a Google search to number one in no time.

Asking for reviews

It may feel weird or uncomfortable to ask current and former customers to review you online, but if you have regular, satisfied customers, they already have a positive view of your business and they’ll want to help you out.

We’ve all seen negative reviews written about a business we are familiar with and we certainly don’t want to see anything of the sort written about us. Most negative reviews are unsolicited; coming from a customer who feels alone or abandoned. When a business extends a personal invitation to a customer to write a review about them, more often it will result in a positive experience for both parties.

You can a send request out to your email list or devote a section of your monthly newsletter to requesting online reviews from loyal customers.  You can even give them links to your business profile on the top online review sites:

Go to these sites, search for your business and see if any reviews have been posted. Maybe you’ve already got some positive buzz going!

What makes a good review?

A good review is more than just a positive comment. Good reviews also give information about where you are located and what you do. Including keywords that relate to your business in a review will improve your Google page rank. In the examples below, check out the keywords these reviewers used (in italics).

Good: I love Ernie’s!
Better:
Ernie’s is the best place to get a burger in downtown Omaha.

Good: Performance Automotive has great service.
Better:
I took my Subaru to Performance Automotive for repair, and they did a great job. They have a convenient location on the south side of Minneapolis, and they specialize in Japanese cars. Their car repair was also cheaper than originally quoted. I’d definitely use them again for any car problems.

As you ask your satisfied customers to review you online, it’s good to keep these tips in mind and suggest that they use them while reviewing your business.

Online Review Don’ts

Now that we’ve discussed tips for creating good online reviews, here are a couple of practices that will actually hurt your Google ranking. If you care about your Google rank, don’t do this:

1)      Don’t post a review yourself (or have anyone from your organization post a review)—Not only will this hurt your Google rank, but if anyone finds out you posted your own review, get ready for some nasty, negative word-of-mouth.

2)      Don’t have someone who shares your last name post a review—You may not be able to control who posts reviews online, but if you know someone who shares your last name, like a family member, don’t ask them to post a review. Google frowns on nepotism.

3)      Don’t have more than one person post a review from the same computer—Google views posting multiple reviews from the same computer as a taboo akin to ballot stuffing. It will hurt your page rank and your reputation.

4)      Don’t get all of your reviews now and never address the topic again—Keep the reviews coming on a consistent basis over time. Google looks for content updates on a continual basis and new reviews each and every month is a great way to make that happen.

More reviews, better ranking

If you are looking to give your website that extra push it needs to make it to the top, it’s time to start focusing on online reviews. Even only a handful of reviews on various sites will do wonders for your Google page rank. Stop messing around on the second page and get to number one by following these tips and asking your customers to review your business online.

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