LinkNow Media | Customer Reviews

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Month: December 2018

How to Get Positive Online Reviews from Your Clients on Boxing Day

There are few industries in the world that have an easy time getting positive reviews from their clients. Getting positive reviews during the busiest time of year is no exception either. Negative reviews? Sure. Some customers will leave negative reviews for the most minor of offenses—or for no offense at all. Those reviews, however, are not the kind we’re talking about.

We’re talking about honest, positive reviews. Thoughtful reviews, or just reviews that consist of the briefest of compliments. There are few companies that don’t struggle to get glowing (and unincentivized!) reviews. Even the companies who’ve never failed to provide with customers with complete satisfaction can’t seem to get a single 5-star review on their Yelp or Google listing!

At LinkNow Media, we talk with a lot of business owners. Most of them, at first, have this very same dilemma. They do great work day-in, day-out, and every customer always leaves their shop with a satisfied smile on their face—but alas, their Google and Yelp review sections are blank.

How do we help our clients get out of this slump? How can you get your clients to spread the good word about your high-quality customer service during the holiday season?

Here are a few of the suggestions LinkNow Media provides to our clients.

Ask Your Clients to Leave Reviews!

That’s right. Just ask them! Despite how hectic holiday shopping and Boxing Day sales may be, people are still imbued with the Christmas spirit. It’s the season of giving! They’re eager to reciprocate warm feelings and generosity. Any time you have a positive experience with a client in person this holiday season, just ask them to leave a little review!

You might be wondering, “Is it OK to ask for reviews?” For Google at least, the answer is 100%, “Yes!” Ask away!

Yelp, on the other hand, has made it explicitly clear that no company should incentivize clients and customers to leave reviews. What does that mean? In short, it means that your customers should be leaving reviews because they genuinely want to spread the word about the business or help you out. The same rule should apply to any other review platform as well. You should want EVERY review to be genuine and sincere, after all.

Asking in person might seem stressful or pushy, but it really isn’t. A good customer interaction should be professional, yes, but it should also be personable and good-natured. If you have a friendly rapport with your client, asking them for a review should not seem pushy.

There is no better time than the end of a sale to ask your client to leave a review. They’ll have just been helped out by you, so they’ll be eager to help your business out and spread the good word.

The “Buy Local” Campaign

Now more than ever, people love supporting local businesses. Small business owners are a valued part of any community. If your clients see your business as a community-oriented company that is “local” in spirit and practice, they’ll be more inclined to leave you a positive review.

The “Tip” Method

Another great approach for gathering more online reviews is the “tip” approach. After you’ve had a great Holiday interaction with a client let them know that if they leave a positive review mentioning the name of the person that helped them, the company will give them a tip or “holiday bonus” for their great service.

We’ve seen this method work time and time again. Many clients see it as a way of “giving back” to their service providers and local workers. And all that’s required of them is that they leave a genuine and honest review!

There are other ways to accumulate positive online reviews, but they all require one thing: Quality customer interactions! If you’re not providing your client warm, friendly, and first-rate customer service this holiday season, they’ll be more inclined to give you a lump of goal over a good review.

What Are Yelp and Google Doing to Fight Fake Reviews?

What are google and yelp doing to fight fake reviews?

Being a consumer has never been easier—and more deceiving.

Long before booking an appointment, hiring a tradesman, or ordering a meal, prospective buyers can gleefully browse through pages of listed companies offering exactly what they want.

They’ll find much more than just the basics of the business— locations, rates, contact info.

By way of the Internet, consumers can now scrutinize a company’s reputation in the form of online reviews. They’ve used the services, purchased the products, and have now gone to the trouble of reviewing their experience.

But just how trustworthy are online review sites like Google and Yelp?

What Are Fake Reviews?

As the name suggests, fake reviews are inaccurate, slanderous depictions of a business.

Fake reviews usually come in two forms. Either, they are positive reviews designed to artificially inflate a business’s reputation for the better. Or, they are negative reviews left by black hat SEO companies, jealous competitors, or disgruntled employees aiming to ruin a business’ reputation.

Fake reviews are misleading at best, and at worst, can ruin a business both on and offline.

Do Review Websites Try to Fight Fake Reviews?

Fortunately for businesses and consumers alike, review aggregators like Google and Yelp are several steps ahead of these dishonest keyboard warriors. These market giants are coming up with increasingly clever ways to detect and remove fake reviews.

It is, after all, in their interest to show only trustworthy reviews. If consumers couldn’t trust the reviews, they simply wouldn’t use the site. If consumers are checking reviews to figure out whether a business is trustworthy, the review site itself better be trustworthy too!

How Does Google Deal With Fake Reviews?

In the spring of 2018, Google began systematically removing all anonymous reviews from Google My Business. The idea behind the move was that anonymous reviews were more likely to be untrustworthy.

Of course, not all the anonymous reviews were fake—and there was a backlash because of it. But since reputation management is something we’re concerned with at LinkNow Media, we think this was definitely a move in the right direction. If you’d like to learn more about, you can read our article on it.

If you are a business owner, Google is unlikely to remove a review unless there is clear evidence of spam patterns. The Google My Business forum is a resource for business owners who feel that a review has been inaccurate. It’s generally a long process and one that will require a significant amount of evidence, simply because no one likes negative reviews. If you can’t lay out clear evidence of being spammed by fake reviews, Google must assume that the reviews have been left by real customers.

How Does Yelp Deal With Fake Reviews?

What sets the Yelp reviews apart from Google, is that Yelp has built an algorithm that’s designed to weed out untrustworthy reviews before they are displayed on a listing.

The algorithm decides whether a review should be recommended or not recommended. If it is recommended, it ends up as part of the total rating that’s visible on every business’ Yelp profile. If it is deemed untrustworthy, the review will end up in the ‘Not currently recommended’ section of the business listing. These reviews are still visible to the public, but you have to scroll to the bottom of the page and follow a series of links that lead to them. They are hidden.

Yelp determines whether or not a review is trustworthy based on a number of criteria. While that criteria is kept under wraps, it’s possible to make some educated guesses about what goes into it:

  • When did the reviewer sign up for Yelp?
  • How active is the reviewer?
  • How many reviews do they have?
  • What kinds of reviews have they left?

Notice that most of these are related to activity on Yelp. Yelp is a social media platform and they generate profit by having active users.

This is why, as a business owner, Yelp can be challenging to work with. If your clients are not active Yelp users, their reviews may not appear in the recommended section.

At LinkNow Media, we’re very familiar with this side of Yelp. Being a B2B online digital marketing agency, the LinkNow Media reviews are particularly susceptible to having our client’s reviews end up in the ‘Not currently recommended’ section. If you want to see over a hundred hidden 5-star LinkNow reviews, take a look at our Yelp profile!

All things considered, Yelp is making every attempt at limiting fake reviews. And this is something that’s needed to protect business’ online reputation and give consumers the information they need to make good purchasing decisions.

Yelp also enforces consequences when they find that businesses have left fake reviews on their own or their competitor’s profiles.  Yelp issues ranking penalties and monitors listings for more fake reviews in the future. They can even go so far as to remove the listing altogether.

Yelp also has what they call a “don’t ask” policy aimed. This policy is designed to punish businesses that offer discounts or other incentives in exchange for positive client reviews. For Yelp, it doesn’t matter whether the client has or has not had a real experience with the business. If clients are not willingly choosing to leave the review, the review can’t be trusted.

How Businesses Are Taking Action Against Fake Reviews

Regardless of Google and Yelp’s activities, business owners can take control of fake reviews. The best way to go about this is through professional, well-mannered replies outlining the inaccuracy of these reviews.

No business wants a bad review. Discerning between negative but truthful and an inaccurate review is no easy task, for humans or algorithms— especially given the emotionally-laden tone of many reviews.

As an SEO company specializing in managing online reputations and reviews, LinkNow Media is constantly following Google and Yelp’s review policies. So, if you have any questions regarding fake reviews on your business listing, feel free to give us a call. Our reputation management experts in the SEO department will be happy to answer any of your questions!

Is There a Connection Between Reviews and Ranking?

Is There a Connection Between Reviews and Ranking?

As we wrote about last week, trust has become a leading ranking factor on Google’s SERP. By following the idea that trust is becoming a leading factor in rankings generally, we couldn’t help but wonder:

How much weight does Google give to reviews and ratings in local search rankings?

Since reviews are one of the first things you see when you search for businesses on Google Maps, you’d expect to find a correlation. But with so much other mobile data going into local rankings, we’ve only been able to speculate. Till now.

A recent study from BrightLocal suggests that there might be a correlation.

Join us as we delve into the connection between ratings and rankings in local search.

Reviewing the Stats

The study found that businesses in the top 10 position on Google Maps searches, had similarly high ratings across the board:

  • Businesses in positions 1-3 had an average of 4.47 stars
  • Businesses in positions 4-6 had an average of 4.6 stars
  • Businesses in positions 7-10 had an average of 4.45 stars

Overall, businesses in the top 10 positions had an average of 4.42 stars. All of this bodes well for businesses looking to drum up some extra leads with great reviews.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that 61% of local businesses have an average rating of between 4 and 5. This means that the competition is strong on Google—fall below 4 stars and you could be in trouble.

(We can’t help bragging a little bit here: the LinkNow Media reviews on Google give us a 4.5-star rating!)

One of the surprising things the study found was that about 20% of businesses in the top 1-3 positions don’t have any reviews at all. That means that while there does appear to be a correlation between ratings and rankings, it’s unlikely to be a cause-effect relationship.

Reviews Are One Ranking Factor Among Many

The findings tell us that while reviews are an important part of ranking, there are many other factors that go into it too. We can say that you’re more likely to rank well on Local and Maps searches if you have lots of good reviews. But we can’t say that your ranking is caused by those reviews.

We’re always hesitant to find a causal connection between rankings and reviews. We know, after all, that Google processes an enormous amount of data to establish local rankings. Aside from reviews, some of those local ranking factors include:

  • The physical proximity of a mobile user to the business
  • Categories and keywords used in the business title
  • Citations on listing websites like Yellow Pages and Yelp
  • Mentions and links from social media
  • Consumer behaviours on mobile like click-through rates and frequency of phone number clicks
  • Quality images of your business, products, and services

Because Google’s search engine can process so much information, we believe that it’s time to forget about finding a cause-effect relation that will unlock your way to the top position. While reviews (and reputation management) are definitely important ranking factors, establishing a trustworthy online presence requires a multi-pronged approach.

Conclusion: It’s All About Trust

We believe that the reason positive reviews are correlated to high rankings is that they indicate to both Google and Google’s users that a business can be trusted. Notice however that many of the other ranking factors listed above also point to trust as an important factor in local ranking.

For example, alongside good reviews, you should have quality images that show Google and your potential clients that your products and services are as good as you advertise. You should have business listings with accurate information about your business. You should have people talking about you and you should be talking about yourself. You should use accurate keywords and categories to describe your business so that it’s clear what you’re selling.

The main takeaway from all this is that it’s important to think of your ranking on the SERP, Google Local, and Google Maps, as the result of your overall presence in the online ecosystem. Quit looking for the ‘thing you’re doing wrong’. Work on establishing a trustworthy online presence with every tool available at your disposal!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Just get the professionals at LinkNow Media on your side. Our SEO experts can help you build an SEO strategy that’s perfect for your business.

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