As we have already explained, you cannot underestimate how important online reviews are to get more customers to discover your small business online. The first reason being potential customers rely on the firsthand accounts of people who have already dealt with your business to determine whether or not it’s worthwhile to give you a call.

But even more important than potential customers leaning on what people who have been in their shoes went through, search engines factor in what people say about your business to determine where your website will rank in the results of relevant searches.

Let’s say that someone in your area is looking for a plumber. They are extremely likely to search “plumbers near me” in Google. Because search engines are in the business of conveniently providing users with accurate, useful information, a plumber that regularly receives five-star reviews from customers will receive a preferential ranking in the search results. The reason being that Google sees this as one of the top-rated plumbing companies in the area and, based on that reputation, it will recommend it to people looking for plumbers.

Making sure that your business is equipped with an online review acquisition strategy can drastically change your small business’s website visibility when potential customers are looking for a company that does exactly what you do. To help you develop this review acquisition strategy, we have prepared a few tips to consider for you to review below.

What Are Other Business in Your Industry Doing?

Before you start asking customers to leave you a review on Google, it’s important to look at what other businesses in your industry are doing. If you search for the industry your business is in and tack on “reviews” in the search field, you’ll be able to see what they are doing. If it doesn’t appear like they have been getting many user reviews, then pat yourself on the back because you’re ahead of the curve. If they are collecting reviews, take some time to see which review platforms their reviews are appearing on and what people are saying about their business. Recognizing patterns in reviewers’ behavior can help influence you going forward.

Review the Guidelines

Sites like Yelp, Foursquare and Google Local all have strict guidelines to make sure that bad businesses aren’t gaming their algorithms for personal gain. These sites have staked their reputations on providing reliable information from peers. Anything that violates their guidelines will swiftly be removed and it could damage your business’s reputation online. If you’re not above bending the rules to get more positive reviews, who can say whether you’re above cutting corners or bending the rules of good business?

Be Persistent but Tactful

No matter how you ask for a review and no matter how satisfied with your services, it’s a hard sell to get customers to take time out of their busy lives to write a review for your business. Include requests for reviews in your emails, on your business cards, on receipts, on your website, etc. Make sure to clearly indicate on what platform you would like the review to appear. Remind and follow up with customers.

It won’t be easy, but eventually customers will start reviewing your business and the better they are, the more business your online presence will generate.