Before You Start Your Online Review Strategy
Just when you thought you knew everything about online reviews, this list below comes to your attention. Before you start getting more online reviews, make sure to do a SEO (search engine optimization) review audit. Evaluate how many online reviews you have and from which sites. Make sure you are registered at all of the major review sites that make sense for your business and industry specific review sites so that you can respond to reviews and you get notifications when a new review is posted.
TIP: Remember, you can’t have any customers review you on Google+ while they are in your location or nearby in the parking lot. They have to be outside your business area (specifically not at your IP Address) and the reviewer cannot be an employee.
List of major online review sites:
- Yellow Pages
- Trip Advisor
- Angie’s List
- Your Own Website (Post reviews from review sites on your own site)
- Industry Specific or Local Review Sites
1. Respond to both positive and negative reviews
It is important to have a good reputation and to stay positive when dealing with online reviews. Make sure to do the response in a timely matter (within 3 days of receiving the posting e-mail) and write it when you’re not upset like immediately after reading bad reviews. Here’s a tip from Yelp review guidelines: Your response to a positive review needs to offer new information and may be taken down if it does not contain any new information such as a “Thank you for your loyalty and support for local business” review. That would be taken down because there is no new information provided. At the same time, Yelp does not want you to use review responses to advertise products or services. Both positive and negative review responses are meant to be seen as you being active in your online community.
2. Blend traditional and online marketing
Different Methods to Getting Online Reviews:
- Stickers on your window from review sites
- Training employees to ask for verbal requests
- Review button links on your website
- Review button links in online press releases or newsletters
- Handing out postcards with review instructions when happy customers get home
- Employee contests/incentives for gaining reviews
- Testimonial page with written reviews, videos, quotes, and photos
- Sharing positive reviews across your social media channels
- Utilizing industry specific review sites, communities, and forums
- Local business review exchange – trade reviews with a network of local businesses
TIP: Make sure your reviews are specific and have a good length (2 paragraphs preferred). Use your keywords in the review such as a product or service you sell instead of just saying you’re great to work with because search engines won’t pick up on this general of a review. At the beginning, gaining any quality of reviews at 3 stars or higher is a good thing just to get you started.
3. Celebrate Good Reviews
When you get a positive review, add it to your website and Facebook. TIP: Ask your website developer to use schema markup on the reviews you post on your site in order to let search engines know you have reviews on there. If Google sees that you are only posting 5 star reviews on your site, you will get penalized. Make sure to post all your reviews, or at least not only the 5 star ones.
TIP: No matter how many positive review you have on Yelp, they usually show a proportionate amount of good/bad reviews on the first page. Example: if you have 80 reviews and only 3 are negative, those 3 bad ones will show up with 3 good reviews on the first page. The solution: currently, the only way around this is to pay Yelp a fee. You can also follow your positive yelp reviewers to boost their reputation on the site.
TIP: Sometimes, you can get negative reviews manually removed from review websites if you find that there are inaccurate details that do not apply to your business. Example: The bread they served before our meal was stale and moldy. If you have never served bread before a meal at your restaurant, then you can ask this review be removed because it contains inaccurate information.
You can also share your good reviews with employees or with customers in a newsletter or e-mail. If you do a press release, you can include these reviews or create a testimonials page on your site. It is also important to make it easy on your customers by providing links to these review sites directly from your website.