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Online Reviews and Search Engine Optimization
Whether you like it or not, online reviews have an impact on your business. A survey by BrightLocal found that 92% of consumers read online feedback and trust those reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation. I personally spend a lot of time reading online reviews and don’t purchase anything that has less than 4 stars.
Not only do online reviews affect the purchasing behavior of consumers, it also affects your search engine rankings. According to MOZ, online feedback makes up 10% of how search engines, including Google, rank search results. A good search engine optimization strategy should always include online review acquisition.
Some websites that are great for positive SEO results are:
Google+/Google My Business
Better Business Bureau
Don’t fake it ‘til you make it…
While it may be tempting to get the ball rolling by posting your own reviews or by paying a third party to post reviews for you, Google, Yelp et. al are great at spotting fake feedback and they will not be amused if they catch you. These companies understand the importance of protecting the integrity of reviews on their sites. Amazon has sued websites and people for posting fake feedback. It’s best to put the work into collecting reviews the right way.
How to catch the elusive review
There are restrictions for soliciting reviews and every site is different so be sure you read up on each sites guidelines before reaching out to clients. For instance, most websites frown upon offering incentives to clients for reviews and will penalize you for doing so.
My favorite method for requesting feedback is with a follow up phone call after we complete a project for a client. This allows me to ensure the client is happy with the finished product and then request they leave us a review online. We’ve had great luck with this method.
You can also follow up with clients via email and let them know that they can leave feedback for you on various sites. Try to space your requests out – too many reviews at one time is a red flag which will cause reviews to be filtered out and never posted.
So what do you do when you get a bad review??
We all know you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Sometimes you think you’ve finished a job to the satisfaction of a client only to find out via an online review that they were unhappy. In an ideal world, a client would approach you privately in an effort to resolve the situation before taking to the interwebs, but this is the world we live in.
The best way to handle negative feedback is to reach out to the client to open a dialogue about why they were dissatisfied. This could be a good opportunity to improve your business or identify a weakness you don’t know exists. We have found that apologizing and working with the client to resolve the situation to the best of your ability is the best approach.
You are able respond to online reviews. Doing so in a manner that shows that you are open to feedback and working to resolve the issue will help balance the effects of a negative review. Getting into an online battle with a client with only dissuade people from working with you.
What if a review is false or inappropriate?
Internet trolls – the struggle is real, ya’ll! We had a client who called us because someone had posted a very NSFW picture and review on Yelp. They are a family-friendly business and they were worried that potential clients would see the review and picture and decide not to patronize their business. Needless to say, they were panicking and didn’t know what to do.
Luckily, there are mechanisms in place to flag or report fake reviews and ask that they be removed. Make sure it violates the website’s policy before you report the issue. It usually takes a few days for the process to run its course.
Do you have questions about online reviews or search engine optimization – feel free to reach out to us here at 90 Degree Design.