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Using 5 Star Reviews to Improve Local SEO

Local advertising has now progressed far beyond the Yellow Pages advertising of years past. If your website isn’t bringing in new customers for your business, then perhaps you need to rethink your local advertising strategies. Increasing your search visibility in Google is one such option, but Adwords or link building campaigns may not attract enough customers to justify the cost. A great way to get new customers is to make sure your positive reviews are seen by a wide variety of people searching for your business.

The importance of online reviews for your business

In every geographic area, some businesses are growing while others are closing their doors for good. Part of a local business’s success stems from word of mouth advertising. The reason why your customers choose you over your competitors is because they’ve heard good things about you. But “word of mouth” has now moved online. With a single tap of their smartphone, a potential customer can see the ratings and reviews of multiple businesses. Most customers, in fact, look for and choose a business with a minimum of at least six reviews. Getting some good 5-star customer reviews can help your business show up at the top of the search engines. Showing five-star ratings on all the major review sites will make your business stand out versus your competition if they have no idea how to make reviews work for them.

From a credibility standpoint, rated reviews are a form of social proof. Potential customers are going to be searching for goods and services, and they’re going to be reading these reviews. If you got plenty of good reviews, that means you are doing well in meeting your customer’s needs. You want to help turn searchers into customers, and the review process is how it happens. They’re going to read about your business, and if you have a lot of good reviews, these people see that others are having good experiences with your company.

Reviews can also help your business rank higher for local searches. If a search engine like Google see plenty of five-star reviews for your company, then Google is going to see a good business that it wants to showcase to searchers.

Why can’t I have my friends and family post reviews for me?

Online reviews matter, but abusing the review process can actually hurt a small business. If you can have your employees, your family or friends all post Google reviews, then Google can track your IP address. If they see the reviews coming from the same computer, then that’s a big red flag. You might even get your listing suspended. Google is also going to look at the reviewer’s posting history. The reviewer has more credibility if they put many reviews on different sites about a variety of places. People can typically tell when a review is fake. Whoever posts reviews should make sure that they’re doing it genuinely.

How to improve your local search ranking using reviews

1. Check your company’s current search engine ranking.

Search Google for what people in your location would typically search for to find your business. Take note of what comes up. Repeat these searches at Yahoo, Bing, Yelp and Citysearch.

2. Start asking your customers for feedback.

Now that you can see where you rank for relevant searches, you’re going to bolster those search rankings using customer reviews. The first step is to ask for generic feedback on your business using your website. You’ll ask the person to enter their name, their email and phone number. They will rate your business from one (being bad) to five (being great) stars. Ask them to leave their overall impression on their experience. To get them to submit the form, you’ll want to offer them a simple bribe. This can be in the form of a coupon for your store.

3. Leverage branching logic in your form to target five-star reviews.

Remember when we asked customers to rate your company between one and five stars? We’re going to use that feedback to our advantage to target our most satisfied customers. You don’t want people who left you 4 or fewer stars on your form to be leaving you online reviews. You’re only going to show the section on how to leave an online review to those people who rated you five stars. You can accomplish this by using branching logic in your form editor. Check with your web developer to properly implement this logic in your form. You’re not going to ask everyone to leave a review.

The last part of your feedback form is an instructional guide on how to leave an online review on the property of your choice. Again, this part of the form will only show for those who are satisfied with your company. You will need to choose which of the review sites you’re going to focus on. For Google, you’ll want to start with Google Places. Your instructions will then walk your customers step by step through the process. This will help ensure that they go and immediately leave an online review as part of your survey.

4. Notify your customers of this form.

To get your customers to this form, you’ll want you to send an email blast to notify them. Let them know about your bribe as an enticement to click over to your feedback form. Assure them that you look at everybody’s feedback so that you can continue to improve your customer service. This is a great strategy to keep your customers involved. The feedback allows you to hear what people are actually thinking about your business.

This review strategy is going to help you garner five-star reviews. It’s also going to get you glowing reviews that people are going to impress your potential customers. If you need help with getting customer reviews for your business, please contact us today.

Manar Sabet
About Manar Sabet
Manar is Senior Account Manager at Sandstorm Digital. Her experience is wide and varied across many clients and industries. She currently works on clients including HSBC (SABB), OSN and Abdul Latif Jamil.
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