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How Driving Reviews Elevates Your SEO

Pat F, Guest Author

Apr 3, 2018 @ 4:00PM 4 minute read

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.

- Warren Buffett

This quote from the great investor Warren Buffett may be the single best piece of business advice you can receive. To a man with 50+ years of experience looking at some of the planet's best-run businesses, it's notable that he chose reputation as the thing that makes the biggest impact on a business' success or failure. Not to take away from your expertise as a craftsman or superior manager, both things that are critical to business success, but perhaps the best thing you can do is use the caretaking of company's reputation as your guiding principle towards business success.

Reputation, however, can be complex, and it requires you to be smart about how you build and promote it. It makes up pretty much how you do everything: the work you deliver, the way you deliver it, the timeliness with which you deliver it, the fairness of your pricing, your reliability, the ease of working with you, and your overall willingness to do what's right for your customers. Put all those things together and they make up your reputation. And it's kind of a fragile thing; you could have competitive prices and deliver excellent work while being the nicest guy on the planet, but if you flake on your appointments, your reputation will take a hit. However, once gained, a positive reputation can be your single biggest marketing tool.

Reputation today is made or broken online. Consider that 93% of people make their buying decision based on online reviews. That's excellent news if everyone loves you. If you have a lousy reputation, however, you're going to need to go into full-court press mode and start doing major damage control. In today's hyper-connected, social media-charged world, there are a lot of ways for your reputation to be promoted (either good or bad) so it's essential that service professionals monitor online reviews, interact with reviewers, and manage comments and feedback in order to monitor damage control and learn how to improve.

Deliver for customers and they will deliver for you

In the field service business, most customers are ready to buy once they begin looking. Either there's a problem that needs fixing quickly, or they are focused on a project they're eager to get started; either way, field service customers generally know how to research and find the vendor that will serve them best. Since you have an audience that's prepared to make a buying decision, you make your odds of getting the business a whole lot better if you show up front and center in online reviews as the provider with the best reputation.

The impact of online reviews is growing rapidly. A survey by BrightLocal found that 88% of all consumers trust online reviews more than referrals from friends and family members. This is a remarkable statistic, especially because the reviews are coming from total strangers. Yet, the impact is huge, especially in light of the fact that only about 10% of the entire U.S. population does not regularly read online reviews when picking the businesses they work with.

Consumers regularly look to online reviews to guide them towards trusted vendors. In fact, 58% of consumers look at online reviews at least weekly in pursuit of building up a solid list of potential field service providers who will be able to serve their needs. To earn the attention of those consumers, however, requires that you have solid ratings and reviews from actual customers. A survey indicates that a business must have a rating of at least 3.3 stars before a consumer will consider engaging with them.

Even if you already have great reviews already, every business has to work continuously to be considered superior and to create customers who are willing to share their positive opinions about you. It's also important because reviews are changing consumer behavior in how they conduct reconnaissance into learning about vendors. In fact, a recent survey notes that people are increasingly less likely (a drop of 17% from 2016 to 2017) to visit the website of a business after reading positive reviews. This means that once they find the validation they need, they are ready to move forward with you. Because consumers are able to decide quickly and based on this kind of available information, helping them book an appointment directly from review sites will increase your likelihood of acquiring more new business. 

Reviews and SEO

The actual reviews you receive can be a great boost to your company's reputation and a channel to get new business. But they also help boost your findability by increasing your Google search engine rank. Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for you to stand out from your competition and connect your message with potential customers. Almost 50% of consumers who do a local search of potential providers connect with a vendor that very day, so being prominently displayed in search results is key if you want to get noticed.

The challenge is that search engines are indexing billions of web pages, and one of the best ways for you to rise to the top of search results is to have your name mentioned on other people's websites.

The key is to encourage customers to provide reviews, and then ensure you are using them as an effective marketing tool. Reviews on your website and on social review sites like Yelp, Facebook, CitySearch, and others will pack search engines with favorable content about you which positions your business to outrank competitors in SEO results.

We also know that sites that consistently get positive reviews get more links to other websites, and the more "link love" you get, the greater prominence you get in Google.  According to ReputationLoop, using your positive reviews in social media profiles and updates is a major factor in increasing where you rank in search results. In fact, positive reviews could be the difference between being found and being buried. Consider this:

  • Five Star Customer reviews stand out in social media and beg to be read.
  • Customer reviews give you content that promotes your business without the hard sell.
  • Positive customer reviews remind your followers how great your business is.
  • A customer review post is a great way for followers to share your business with people they think could benefit from what you sell.

More than 90% of consumers indicate that product and service reviews impact how they choose vendors. Building a consistent five-star rating and getting positive reviews will affix in the minds of customers that you are a vendor of choice.

Get more reviews and better ones

Let's start with a little analysis and identify those things that give top rankers their positive results.

Step 1: Search on reviews for your particular field. For example, try "plumber reviews" in the search bar:

Plumber Reviews

Step 2: Review the results and identify those review sites that are delivering the highest rankings. From these results, we can see how valuable it is to get top ratings from Yelp, HomeAdvisor, and CustomerLobby and where you should invest your time building your rankings:

Plumber review search

Step 3: Understand the search ecosystem

Most review sites share their reviews with other websites which makes your original reviews more valuable than if they just remained on one website. This becomes an exponential impact with more customers seeing reviews and Google giving you multiple opportunities to be seen. Take a look at this graphic of what the search ecosystem looks like and you'll see how valuable it is:

Review sites

Step 4: Learn how the review sites work

Now you should spend time understanding how the major review sites work so you know how to coach customers. It's also helpful so you can tailor your own marketing messages and outreach to fit with what these review sites are looking for.  Here are review guidelines for some of these sites so you can understand how to stand out when customers are using them:

Step 5: Start getting reviews

Now it's time to start getting reviews. Thankfully there are a number of proven ways to get reviews and make them stand out for your business. They include:

  • Add review-generating links on your email marketing: With your email marketing efforts you already have a captive audience, so use that to advantage to drive people to these review sites and encourage them to write positive reviews on your behalf. Make it simple with instructions that walk them through the steps to add their comments. It might be as simple as something like this:

Spread the love!

We love serving you and hope you feel the same about us. If you do, we would appreciate your positive comments on Yelp. It's super easy, and you can follow these steps:

Find your business on Yelp and you can just click Write a Review to find your review page.

https://www.yelp.com/writeareview/biz/{your business ID}

  • Links to review sites on social media: Here again, your social channels like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others can be used as an effective tool for routing an engaged audience directly to review opportunities. Something simple will do the trick, and you can have some fun with this too. Maybe something like:

Love working with ABC Flooring? Well, we love u 2! We'd appreciate your positive reviews on Facebook [or any other site] so we can serve other great customers. Just go to https://www.facebook.com/{your business page}/reviews/ #weloveourcustomers #spreadthelove #moreflooringmorefun

  • Train your team: Make sure that, without being annoying, that your office staff and field employees remind customers about opportunities to provide reviews.
  • Automate the message: Use review automation platforms that will make it easier than ever to generate reviews without lifting a finger. NiceJob, Podium, and others provide an efficient, automated way to get and submit reviews.

How to manage your reputation

Part of this process is exposing yourself and your business. In some respects, there's some risk in that; I mean, you might actually get some bad reviews. That's okay, but you need to manage that and minimize the impact. At the same time, remember that any time someone provides a review, it's done as a favor to you, so make sure you offer your thanks and gratitude.

If you're using an automated system for review generation then you'll get alerts delivered directly to you about new reviews. This will allow you to be responsive and keep your pulse on what people are saying about you. If you aren't using any of these automated systems, you should set up a monitoring system like Google Alerts, or use the built-in alerts in Facebook, Yelp or other sites so they can send you an email or text when a review has been posted.

The reviews you get will all blend into your overall reputation. Positive reviews will help you build a positive reputation which could ultimately become your most effective marketing tool. But they are also a chance to learn what you're doing right and what customers appreciate. Double-down on those things, make investments to continue doing them and ensure they are baked into how you market your business. Positive reviews will also give you a chance to create loyalty programs and reward employees who are called out in reviews for excellent work.

Now, even the best businesses get negative reviews. Starbucks has built a multi-billion dollar business, but there are still people who think their coffee tastes like aquarium water. That said, ignoring negative reviews or becoming defensive about them is a bad strategy. Here again, use these as a way to learn more; bad reviews are an opportunity to find out what you're not doing well and rectify any issues you may have. In some cases, you may discover that employees aren't conducting themselves according to the expectations of the business. Better to learn that from one negative review and fix it than to let it linger.

Once you know what customers think, you can move forward with focusing on what to do right.

As you can see, reviews can become a major part of your marketing strategy, but the whole process requires some discipline and management. You don't want it to be overwhelming, so automate as much of it as you can. Find ways to leverage reviews for things like online booking opportunities and internal training. Remember that your company is a dynamic thing; you're always building it, and with the feedback of customers, you can grow it in the direction you want and get it to achieve the kind of reputation that truly reflects the uniqueness of your business

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