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Bernadette Coleman

Dominate Google Local Search: Reviews and Ratings

Leaving a review on a smartphoneEvery business out there wants to dominate Google local search and, to accomplish this, you need to use reviews and ratings in conjunction with other search tools, such as optimizing your location pages on directory and social networking sites. These are ways that your business can gain an important edge over your competition.

In the previous post in this series, I discussed your geographical location— which is one of the important factors Google considers when ranking businesses for local search. Today, I’m going to discuss another important factor: reviews and ratings; and how you can improve them.

Google and local reviews

When you perform a search on Google, you’re going to get the most relevant businesses in your desired location. One of the results that you will see on that page are the good (and bad) reviews of those relevant businesses.

Reviews help businesses improve their rankings because the more reviews you have the better your business will look to search engines as well as to those searching thereby helping you rank higher in local search results. Reviews can be seen as a type of conversion rate optimization.

However, it’s one thing to show up on the top of the search results, but what matters more is when those searching actually pick up the phone and call or click on your website. Reviews of your business play a big part in making that happen.

How do I improve my reviews?

Business owners always want to improve their reviews and I’ve lost count of how many have asked me, “How can I improve my reviews without asking my customers to write one for me? I don’t want to bother them.”

The truth is that the only way to get more positive reviews is to ask for them! There is not a secret way to cheat the system and you shouldn’t even need to try. If you provide a quality product or service and follow up with your customers, providing them with a link which allows them to write a review about their experience, then you only have to let them do their part by providing it. You are taking away the opportunity for your customers to say thank you if you fail to provide an easy way for them to give you a review.

Search engines, like Google, and directories, like Yelp, are strict on their review policies, so make sure you don’t break their rules when you ask for reviews. Your business could get penalized or your reviews deleted, so be sure to read their policies and procedures for properly obtaining customer reviews.

How do I ask for the review?

  • Follow up after the service with a thank you email and include links to your review sites
  • Feature them on your website with links to your business’s other review and directory websites
  • Provide links to the review websites on your social media channels

How NOT to get reviews?

  • Write fake reviews
  • Have a third party write fake reviews
  • Write reviews on behalf of someone else

Using reviews and ratings is a long-term strategy for your business. It is not a one-time fix-it-and-forget-it process.

As your reviews and ratings build, so will your business’s credibility, resulting in an improved local search ranking.

By the way, it’s OKAY if you get a bad review. Many business owners think this is huge issue but it really isn’t IF you handle it properly. Most directories will let you reply to the review and redeem yourself by acknowledging that customer’s negative experience and giving them a solution. You can also give them a discount for a future purchase so they can give your business a second chance to win them over.

If you have only positive reviews customers start to wonder because no business is perfect all the time. So, think of a bad review and as an opportunity to respond and correct the situation and show other potential customers that you will stand behind your business and make things right. And always remember: Never delete negative reviews unless they are genuinely spam. This will bring up a red flag for search engines.

Have you had any success with getting reviews for your business? If not, what’s a major obstacle holding you back?

Bernadette Coleman

Bernadette Coleman is a SEO, Local Search, Engaging Content Enthusiast & CEO of Advice Interactive Group, an Inc500 Digital Agency.

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