Your Business’ Reputation is a Living and Breathing Thing, Especially Online.

The quantity and quality of the reviews customers publish about businesses can be very influential to potential buyers. Because a search engine’s primary job is to give online searchers what they are looking for, reviews are a significant ranking factor for local search engine optimization.

Particularly local businesses, reviews are a highly-influential factor in how people view your business’ reputation within your community. Both positive and negative reviews can sway readers’ opinions and bolster or hurt your local reputation.

And with almost 93% of online consumers reading reviews before making a purchase, these reviews have a huge overall influence on your business.

Why Reputation Management Is Important

Look at reviews from a content marketing perspective. Reviews are assets that raise your business’ online profile without the heavy lifting of in-house content creation.

When your customers write about your business, it is a signal to search engines that you are active and relevant. Reviews also add to the variety of content about your business.

Your customers will take a different tone, cover different topics, and use different language than the way you write about your own business. This variety presents a more robust picture of your business for search engines to find.

Reviewers will also leave important keywords throughout reviews, which will also have an impact on your ranking and visibility on search engines like Google.

Whitespark ask local search experts to rank Google My Business conversion factors, and “High Numerical Google Ratings (e.g. 4-5)” was ranked as most important, followed by “Positive Sentiment in Review Text,” meaning your reviews have a clear influence on your Google ranking and visibility.

A consistent pace of reviews sends a signal that you have a steady, enduring business with happy, loyal customers.

A Proactive Approach

You can rely on the culture your business has created and its commitment to customer service to translate into positive online reviews. But there is an element of subjectiveness to customer satisfaction, and review opportunities give customers a way to voice their opinions indelibly on the web.

So it’s important to proactively monitor how your business is being reviewed online. The top review sites to monitor are Google, Yelp, and Facebook. There are dozens of other reviewable business listing sites to build a profile on, but focus on sites that are related to your type of business.

Periodically check your reviews using these methods.

  • Search your business name – A Google search will turn up the listings your business has across the web and show the number of reviews.
  • Set up a Google Alert for your business name – You can receive an automated email every time your business is mentioned online.
  • Set up automatic notifications – When you claim your business listing on Yelp, you can set up an email notification for every time your business is reviewed on the site.

Now that you know what is being said, it’s time to respond. Thoughtful responses to both positive and negative reviews serve two purposes. They build a more robust online profile for search engines to pick up on, and signal to your customers and prospects that your business is engaged and attentive to their needs.

Prompting More Reviews

While reviews follow organically from stellar customer service, there are ways to gently encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences online. Focus on the big players – Google, Facebook, and Yelp – to get the most visibility from your requests, and choose methods that fit in with your company’s culture.

  • Send a thank you email to customers and include a link to your Google My Business, Facebook, or Yelp profile. Encourage satisfied customers to follow the link and share their experience.
  • Design a printed card to hand out or mail to customers, thanking them and identifying the review sites where they can write a review.
  • Verbally encourage customers to review your business at the point of sale. Follow up with a phone call or text message.

Keep working on encouraging, monitoring, and responding to your online reviews. A robust review profile is not only a strong signal to potential customers, it’s also a key factor in local SEO.

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Thanks for stopping by,
Laura

Editor’s Note: Originally published in December 2017, this article has been edited and updated for content in February 2022.