Testimonials and Recommendations matter!
This is simply a fact for any business be it word of mouth or online reviews. Personal recommendations are extremely powerful with regard to growing your business and bringing in new clients and patients. Are people leaving your business positive reviews? Do enough people look closely at what is said in reviews to help your online business grow?
The Role of Online Reviews
Online review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Places, and Bing Local give people fast access to location facts and ratings for local neighborhood businesses. Every year, a growing number of online visitors are using reviews to build their trust in local businesses.
According to a BrightLocal study done in 2013, 85% of consumers said they read online reviews for local businesses. 79% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And 73% of consumers said that positive reviews online make them trust a local business more. There is no denying that customer reviews help you engage with your potential clients and also help you understand potential customer needs. Reviews also help you improve your online visibility in search results by increasing trust and click-through rates for your website. This actually helps push your site higher in the rankings if enough people continue to engage with the content they find on your site.
The Role of Social Media
So, how do search engines use reviews in their search results? At first glance, it’s easy to see that Google and Bing both show the amount of reviews a business has in its local results. With the growing popularity of social networking websites, online searchers have more access than ever to attitudes, opinions, and viewpoints of people who have interacted with a business. Search engines are realizing how trustworthy and useful this information is by incorporating activity on these sites as favorable ranking factors. Google utilizes +1s in its algo. Bing recently rolled out their new Smart Search feature which incorporates reviews from places like Facebook, Mapquest, and Yelp in local results. Reviews are increasingly becoming more about personal interactivity on social platforms, and sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are playing a bigger role in how a website ranks in search.
How to Best Leverage Social & Online Reviews
With social and review sites in mind, what is the best way to incorporate those reviews and interactions into your greater web marketing plan? First, if you don’t already have listings or pages on these sites, then, you will want to actively work on claiming and optimizing those listings. Make sure your business name, address, phone number, business hours, and website url are up to date and current so people can find you and contact you.
Create an outlet where you can expertly provide advice and information about your business. Promote your special services. Offer something that “the other guys” do not. What makes you stand out from the crowd? Create value, and share it on these pages with potential new clients and customers.
Share and engage with your audience, don’t just spew information (I call this “soap-boxing” – this will lose you followers faster than it will gain them). When customers feel engaged, they tend to be more loyal to your products and services. Loyal clients become advocates for your business. With social media, engaged clients and patients can (and probably will) endorse your company for everyone to see. When that happens, it can be a very powerful tool to enhance your online presence.
Additionally, local businesses with negative reviews will want to respond openly to negative reviews. A bad review is not necessarily a bad thing. If used the right way, it can become a positive influencer. Use the opportunity to reach out and change that reviewer’s experience into something positive. If the reviewer is not interested in responding, it at least shows future visitors that you are concerned about the experience people have when visiting your business or using your products. It also shows that you are willing to go that extra mile to make amends.
You will also want to continually generate new reviews from happy clients promoting what you do best. In doing this you can drive any negative reviews further down the page and keep the newer, positive reviews higher up. Reviews don’t just affect the impressions a potential client has on your business; it can affect how your business website ranks on Google, Bing, and Yahoo search.
by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC