Gathering customer reviews has always been beneficial to businesses, but today its importance is even greater.
Collecting customer reviews has three main benefits:
- You get feedback that you can use to market your business.
- You can better understand what you are doing right and wrong as a company
- You improve the visibility of your company on Google.
As for the last point, collecting genuine and honest online reviews of your services is becoming increasingly important. While you've got all the other elements of your local search strategy in place, the power of ratings data shouldn't be underestimated.
First, the impact of customer reviews on other potential customers cannot be underestimated. You can tell me you're nice and I might believe you. However, when an unbiased third party tells me you're nice, I'm much more inclined to believe it. A recent study found that customer reviews have the greatest impact on purchases. Another study found that 88% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase, and another study found that 63% of consumers are more willing to make a purchase on a website with customer reviews.
One hesitation that companies have when seeking online reviews is the fear of getting a bad review. However, the odd bad review isn't necessarily a bad thing. When you actively respond to bad reviews and try to rectify the situation, you show your new potential customers that you care about your customers. In fact, one study found that bad reviews can increase sales by 67%.
So why are testimonials so important to an SEO strategy? In its quest to provide the most relevant and beneficial local search results, Google not only wants to know what your business does, but how it's perceived. A large part of this is done by seeing how many reviews you have and what your average customer rating is. Evidence anyone? The tour illustrating the capabilities of the new Google Maps makes it very clear that if you do a local search, the top-ranked businesses in your area will be displayed. Also, Google recently updated the map search layout and now shows ratings and reviews much more clearly. In addition, the following applies to Google: content is king. Adding user-generated content to your website or Google Plus page is a great way to add new, fresh, and unique content.
The quality and quantity of reviews on Google is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO. When a person browses Google search results for a local product or service, the business listings that include customer reviews are more credible and, of course, get more clicks. If your listing has a 4.5-star rating with 18 reviews in search results (and your competitor's listings have fewer), that's strong social proof that your product or service can be trusted.
Another fact to be aware of is that nowadays your customers will evaluate your products or services whether you want them to or not. Even if the reviews aren't published on your website, there are numerous sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, and social media where reviews will appear. To maximize the impact of your reviews and have as much control over them as possible, encourage your customers to leave reviews about your business on your Google Local page.
Now that we've established the importance of customer reviews, especially online reviews, how do you get your customers to write reviews for your business?
First of all, and this is the most important thing, you should provide great customer service. Happy customers mean good ratings and reviews. Second, you must adopt an active strategy to encourage reviews, rather than waiting for it to happen on its own. An easy way to start collecting reviews online is to ask family and friends to rate your business. Next, you should develop a strategy for asking both existing and new customers about their purchase; the quicker this happens, the more likely you are to receive a review from them. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave a review by placing shoptimizer in your company. This gives customers the opportunity to give a good rating within seconds.