Customer reviews play a significant role in effective digital marketing and SEO strategies for a business, and 90% of customers read reviews before visiting a business. Because of this, Atwill Media highly recommends that you factor customer reviews into your business's digital marketing and SEO strategies. Reviews have an effect on both search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (first impressions, likelihood of using your business, etc.), and not effectively managing your customer reviews means that your business is not maximizing the potential of both its digital marketing and SEO efforts. Following these three tips will help!
It's difficult to factor reviews into your strategy if you aren't generating any feedback from your customers and they aren't leaving you any reviews. While it's against the guidelines for most all platforms to specifically ask your customers to leave a review, it's perfectly fine to encourage them to do so. For customers you have serviced or sold a product to that seemed satisfied with your business, mention at the end of the transaction or during the handshake that you would appreciate if they left you a review on whatever platform you prefer, such as Google or Yelp. We recommend Google to be the priority platform, as reviews on Google have the greatest impact on SEO.
You can also put a link on your website, social media pages, and emails that go out to customers that will directly take them to where they can leave you a review for the platform of your choice. This is a good option for encouraging reviews because it makes it easier on the customer and it is also hands-off natural review encouragement with the right call to action. Once your link is made, it does the work for you from there.
While it's great to receive a lot of reviews from your customers, the reviews themselves are only part of the equation. What's important for you and your business is that you respond to your customers' reviews. Responding to reviews is a good thing for your business on two fronts.
First, it factors in more greatly to SEO efforts (Google reviews especially) because it shows both incoming (customer review) and outgoing (your response) information. Search engines are smart, and that information tells the algorithm that you are interacting with your customer base, which looks good for your business within the algorithm.
Second, it shows other potential customers that you interact with your customer base and that you actually do read the reviews and feedback that past customers have left for your business. It helps garner good faith and foster confidence with potential customers when they see that you've responded to the reviews of past customers, both good and bad. You need to respond to all of the reviews you receive, both positive and negative. Nobody wants to receive a negative review, but inevitably it will happen, which brings us to tip #3...
As mentioned above, you will likely receive a negative review every now and then, so it's important that you know how to handle a negative review when you do receive one. First and foremost, you do need to respond to negative reviews; don't just respond to positive ones. When you respond to a negative review, it is important you do so in a professional manner. Remember, potential customers will see both the negative review itself as well as your response.
Don't get an attitude with the customer (even if they deserve it), don't deflect or place blame anywhere, and don't over-explain anything. Just mention that you are sorry they were displeased with their experience, apologize, and do what you see fit from there. Whether you want to rectify the situation through a discount on their next visit, request they contact you or your business directly to discuss options, or simply thank them for their feedback and assure them their next experience will be a better one, the choice is yours- just make sure you maintain a professional tone in your response. Responding to negative reviews is important because it shows potential customers that you respond to both positive and negative feedback and that you are not afraid to own up to a mistake and try to correct it. When handled properly, there is also the chance a customer could change their review from negative to positive or that they may remove it entirely.
For platforms that give you the ability to do so, also try to contact the customer via private message and talk to them. Facebook and Yelp let you do this but Google does not. Talking to them in a private setting gives you more room to discuss the specific details of the issue, and you can better offer means of help to try and change their opinion of your business as well as their review. This offers you a greater chance of turning a displeased customer into a satisfied customer.
Cordell Crowley is a Google/SEO Specialist at Atwill Media. He has two degrees from Arkansas State University: an associate's degree in Computer Information Technology and a bachelor's degree in Management.
When not at work, he spends his free time with his family and friends indoors because Arkansas humidity makes outdoor activities no fun.