Online reviews are today’s Word of Mouth. Reviews are the slip roads, the on-ramps, for people looking to spend their money online.
Reviews are trusted and Google knows it.
Customer service looms large here, with more than 8 out of 10 people having their decision swayed by online reviews about customer service.
Amazon is one shining example of a company doing well as a result of the efforts it has put into managing its customer reviews.
To Buy Or Not To Buy
Your prospective customers are doing it.
We are all doing it these days. We go online, not only to find what we’re needing, but also to weigh up its merits before we decide to part with our money. And we do this mostly by reading online reviews.
Could you blame your prospective customers for spending elsewhere, if you’re failing to give them the reassurances and validations they’re expecting to see?
Online reviews are treated with the kind of respect usually reserved for personal recommendations and are trusted by some 85% of consumers.
In 2017, 97% of consumers searched online for local solutions to their needs.
It all comes down to this: effective SEO coupled with positive Social Proof is the winning combination. When someone searches for the products or services that you provide and you appear at the top of page one of Google… congratulations, you are winning the internet.
Your online presence needs to be optimised. That’s the bottom line. Take good care of your online reviews, keep your web presence up to date, and the warm glow of healthy conversions will be within your reach.
What happens to fake reviews?
Consider this scenario:
My business has received a few online reviews. Some of these reviews came from anonymous profiles. If you were to click on the reviewer’s name, you’d end up at a blank page.
As a user experience, this leaves a sour taste, especially at Google. It’s a scenario with only one outcome: the offending reviews will be banished by Google and, once they’re gone, they’re not coming back.
For the business in question, when a sizable percentage of reviews are lost, the website will unceremoniously drop rank on the search pages.
Google will do what it can to ensure that online reviews used in its ranking processes are genuine. Trust is integral to its core business. This is why it has no time for the anonymous reviewer.
It’s true though, that bad reviews can do damage.
How do I deal with a negative review?
Failing to respond will be seen as pathetic and uncaring. You might feel attacked but don’t get mad. Get even. And by that, we’re not talking revenge. We’re talking about holding to an even keel.
This is an opportunity to offer solutions only your business can provide. When a customer says they were disappointed, keep a cool head and acknowledge their experience. Sympathise.
The best response is always short, respectful and it should hold the door open. You should be able to include what you need in about 4 sentences.
“Hi Susan, we’re sorry to hear your experience wasn’t all it should have been.
“We failed in this instance to provide outstanding service. A rare occurrence, but systems are now in place to make sure it becomes even rarer, especially as we open a new CBD premises on July 3.
“Please spare a moment to call our general manager on 2XX9 9XX2 so he can make amends and talk to you about an offer we’re sure you’ll appreciate.”
In the example above, we start by showing the customer we are listening. We then address the problem and follow it up with a commitment to improve. Including a marketing plug helps inform other readers and opens the door to new business.
Finally, we invite the customer back and provide her with a personal contact. This wide open door approach pretty much means an online tit for tat will not ensue. Voila! Negative turns to positive.
You can certainly try this at home. But before you post your response to a negative review, get a second opinion. That opinion would be best coming from someone who’s looking out for you and your business.
That’s not all though. There’s another card that we recommend you play. Bring in more positive reviews.
As of writing, 7 reviews is all the average consumer reads before making their decision… for or against. Adding more positive reviews is a way to push older reviews down, perhaps out of sight.
When asked, 68% of consumers will leave feedback. So you only need ask.
What is Google looking for when it determines your search ranking?
To generate a score for your business, Google will pull in reviews from reputable sites and continue to work even while you’re sleeping.
While the quantity of reviews counts, Google also looks for quality. Google’s own reviews can have a higher impact than reviews from Yelp or elsewhere. That’s because they are created by people with Google+ accounts. It’s a no-brainer for Google to validate them.
Lengthy reviews carry more weight with Google.
“Local search ranking” is what Google pieces together for the benefit of customers who are out and about, looking for products and services in their area. Distance and travel time are definite local search ranking factors, whereas market size seems to have no bearing.
There’s nothing much you can do about “local”. It relates to the location of the consumer. However, the influence that online reviews have in regard to local search activity, is increasing annually by more than 20% each year.
More than just improving your local search ranking, Google reviews have an impact on the entire customer journey, from searches to purchase.
3 High-Scoring Factors For Local Search Ranking
This is where your content aligns with what customers are searching for. Make sure your business listings and descriptions are accurate and up to date. Use industry keywords.
This is where Google prioritises its search results according to the location of the searcher.
Google will pool all it can gather about a business — directory listings, online reviews, articles, links, website visits, website authority, etc. This helps rank the business in its respective marketplace. Google would expect, as any fair-minded person would expect, that prominent businesses appear high on its search engine results pages (SERPs).
You may also be interested in our previous blog about ranking on mobile searches: