Many business owners are aware of how important online reviews are when finding new customers, but many struggle with actually getting people to leave reviews. We all know that the best way to get 5-star ratings is by perfecting your customer service, but actually getting that review can be a bit trickier. We’ve put together a few ways to get positive reviews, faster, so you can grow your online authority.
How To Get More Positive Reviews
Recognize the value of getting more reviews
Before we look at how to go about getting more reviews, you should understand why reviews are important. Let's break a few of these down in a little more detail.
Search engines will display businesses in both organic and local results more prominently if they have a high number of authentic reviews with good ratings. When Google decides who to include in their local 3-pack (the three listings that are displayed under the map in local searches), reviews is one of their main ranking factors. As Google states, “more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking.”
Better Click-through Rate.
Users are more likely to click through to websites listed in Google’s 3-pack. They are even more likely to do so if they have positive reviews associated with their listing.
Aside from better search results, having more reviews helps to build your business’s credibility. Every time you receive a 5-star review, it works to bump up the overall ranking of your listing. Also, the greater the amount of positive reviews that you have makes it tougher for one or two bad ratings to hurt your overall score.
Make sure you have a profile on review sites
The first step to collecting online reviews is an important one - make sure you have profiles on review sites. The most popular places to leave reviews are Facebook, Google, and Yelp. Review aggregate sites for specific industries like TripAdvisor (for travel-related businesses), Healthgrades (for medical professionals) and Angie’s List (for home services) are also crucial for businesses in those fields. Often times, these aggregate sites will rank in the top spots of organic search results, so having a profile with them will give you greater exposure.
Make sure you have access.
Some of these sites may require you to request ownership access or verify your identity. This not only ensures that you can respond to your reviews, but also lets you control aspects on the listing such as hours, phone numbers, and photos. For Google My Business, Google will send you a postcard in the mail to verify yourself as a business owner. On Facebook, make sure that you have reviews turned on for your business profile, as they are not turned on by default.
Ensure NAP consistency.
“NAP” stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. These three things should be consistent on every online listing for your business. When Google decides which businesses to rank in their 3-pack and local search results, they crawl the internet for local directories (like Yelp, Yellow Pages, MerchantCircle, etc.) to make sure that your NAP information is consistent. If this information is inaccurate or different across multiple sites, it can hurt your ranking. As Google says, “Your business information's placement in search results will vary, but having correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date business information is the most effective way to ensure the best possible ranking.”
Take advantage of a local listing service.
Searching for new reviews on all your local listings takes precious time away from running your business. Thankfully, there are services that will automatically populate your business information onto hundreds of local profiles and review sites across the internet, and alert you whenever someone leaves feedback on a third party site, so that you can see it and respond right away.
Make it easier for customers to give feedback
When a customer interacts with you, heading to a review website might not cross their mind. Many will not take the effort to figure out where to leave a review unless they have a bad experience that they are eager to vent about. For that reason, it is important to make it as easy as possible to leave a review, and give ample opportunities for customers to access your review pages.
Prominently display links to review profiles.
The first step is to include links to your review site profiles on your website and in your email signature. Some sites offer widgets and plugins to embed in your website that show your reviews in real time, along with a call to action (CTA) for users to leave feedback. Yelp offers downloadable badges for websites that link to their profile, as well as stickers to display on doors and windows.
Most customers who give you a rating will do so after they make a purchase or utilize your services. So naturally, a good place to ask for feedback is on their receipts. If you are a brick and mortar store that prints receipts, try including a call to action on the bottom with a web address showing customers where they can leave a rating. In an emailed receipt, you can take it a step further by including links to your review and social profiles.
Send email and text alerts.
Another way to get more reviews is by sending automated emails and text alerts to your customers after they’ve completed a purchase, or recieved a service. This makes it easy to get more customer feedback on a regular basis by sending review requests to your customers at critical customer journey touchpoints (i.e. after a transaction) to connect with customers in-the-moment. In these messages, make sure to thank them for their business, and provide a simple way for them to go online and leave a review of their experience.
Do not incentivise
It might be tempting to want to offer incentives to customers in order to persuade them to leave a positive review. This is not the best idea for a few reasons.
Offering financial incentives for reviews is against the law, and can result in fines - regardless if the review is positive or not. Paid endorsements are legal as long as it is explicitly mentioned that the reviewer is paid for their opinion - which is not a good look either. Google, Yelp, and other sites have stated that offering coupons or incentives for leaving positive reviews is against their terms of service.
Some brick-and-mortar enterprises may set up a tablet or kiosk for customers to leave reviews while in-store. This is an easy way to “corner” people into leaving feedback when they are put on the spot. Some review sites do not approve of this, and will penalize listings that have too many reviews from the same IP address.
Taking it a step further, Yelp’s terms of service flat out discourages asking for reviews at all. If Yelp sees that a listing is getting many reviews from new profiles or rarely-active users, they consider it “spam” and will either suppress or remove the reviews.
The easiest way to get around Yelp’s “no asking” rule is by making the process of leaving a review as easy as possible. This includes displaying links to your review sites on your website, emails, and other forms of communication with customers. Taking advantage of Yelp’s free website icons and window stickers is a smart way to grab the attention of avid Yelp users who will be more likely to leave a review, while people unfamiliar with the platform will ignore it. This way, you are not explicitly “asking” for reviews, but still leaving the door wide open for feedback.
Respond to all reviews
A best practice to online reputation management starts with responding to feedback - both positive and negative. When you respond to your customers’ feedback, your customers will feel like their comments are appreciated, and outsiders will view you as a business owner who values their clients’ opinions.
Make sure all feedback is honest
Reviews are an honest and open look into your business. Your reviews should be as candid as possible and not influenced by any outside means or incentives.
First and foremost, do not ask friends and family to review your company, especially if they are not a customer. Even if they have paid for your products or services, it would be a good practice to discourage them from leaving a review just to be safe. This is against the terms and conditions of many review sites, and it hurts your credibility.
Reviews do not exist to make you look good. They act as a “confession box” of what customers really think. When receiving a bad review, it should be a learning experience to see how you can improve in the future. An unprompted positive review should be a compliment to your outstanding work. Having tons of 5-star reviews is always nice, but they need to be genuine.
How SpaceCraft Can Help
As a business owner, finding time to manage your website, create local listings, and generate reviews can be difficult. At SpaceCraft, we’ve created simple solution for businesses who want to increase their online awareness. From a beautiful conversion-friendly website, to call tracking and review generation, our straightforward packages offer the most immediate way to drive traffic to your new website. Learn more by contacting us today.