Do reviews help your business rank better on Google? If I get a negative review, should I post a response? As the New Accounts Manager at Local-One Internet Marketing, questions about online reviews are some of the most frequently asked questions that I receive. The truth is that reviews do play a significant role in determining your overall rankings on Google and other search engines and as a business owner, getting online reviews should be an important part of your search engine optimization strategy.
The quality and quantity of online reviews can dramatically impact where your business ranks. Since there are so few factors that you can control as a business owner, taking ownership of online reviews is a great way to sneak ahead of your competition. You may have noticed that some business listings have a star rating next to their name and others do not. Google’s star rating displays the average consumer rating when there are a minimum of 5 online reviews. To receive a star rating from Google, your business needs to have a minimum of 5 online reviews. Studies indicate that this threshold is also the point that reviews begin to have impact on your rankings. If you do not already have at least 5 Google reviews, you should work quickly to get them.
Reviews are not just important because they help your business rank better on Google. Reviews are also important because they impact the buying decisions of consumers. Several consumer behavior studies indicate that reviews significantly impacted the decision to either purchase or not purchase a service or product from a company. This means that not only will you rank better if you have reviews, but also that your customers will be more likely to buy from you if they can read first-hand accounts of how great your business is!
When it comes to online reviews, there are a few things to remember:
No Fake Reviews – Google is a billion dollar company with huge teams of people whose sole job is to identify spam. You won’t outsmart Google. They are tracking your IP address, the names on your Google accounts, the frequency in which the account is accessed and how often reviews are left by users, etc. If you create a Google account to leave a fake review for your business, chances are good that Google will catch it and remove it and it is possible that you will receive a ranking penalty in the process. At best, the review will display on your local listing and your potential customers will read the over the top fake review and see right through it. Don’t post fake reviews. The potential penalties outweigh the benefits.
The Devil is in the Details: Just as Google comes to your website to read the content of your site, Google is extracting words from the reviews that users leave for your business to help determine what products you sell or services you provide and in what area. A review that states “Jackie was great” does not help Google understand what your business does whereas a review that says “Jackie’s Flower Shop is the best in Austin. She always has beautiful flowers.” contains both “flower shop” and “Austin” which helps your business rank better when people are searching for keyword phrases like “Austin Flower Shops”. This means that when it comes to reviews, quality is more important than quantity. Encourage your customers to leave reviews and be specific. They should talk about the exact product or service they purchased, what they liked about it and what they like about your company.
Don’t Sweat Negative Reviews: Not every customer will be impressed by your business and that’s okay. Potential consumers actually expect to see some degree of variance when it comes to ratings and reviews. If you get a negative review, the worst thing you can do is ignore the negative review and the second worst thing you can do is to post an emotional response back to your customer. It is a good idea to respond to every review that is left for your business on Google, especially if that review is negative. When writing a business owner response to a negative review, it is important to remember that old adage: “The Customer is always right” no matter how wrong they actually might be. Write a sympathetic response thanking them for their patronage and apologizing that they did not get what they were expecting. If possible, offer to correct the situation. Remember, you are not writing this response for the sake of the angry customer. You are writing this response so that future customers can see that you are willing to make it right if a problem arises. If you need help crafting a response to a negative review, our local internet marketing team would be happy to help you.
If you are struggling to get online reviews, call us and let us suggest some ideas that have worked in the past. If you have found success in getting online reviews for your business and want to share your tips and tricks with other business owners, let us know and we’ll feature you in our next blog.