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Should You Ask Clients for Google Reviews?

By now, everyone knows how important it is to get their customers to leave positive, thoughtful, and detailed reviews on Google. But the rules for soliciting reviews remain foggy at best. Part of the problem is that different review sites have different rules and many people conflated them accidentally.

Today we’re going to clear the air. We’re going to explain, as precisely as possible, Google’s rules around asking for reviews.

So, let’s be clear. Should you ask your customers for Google reviews?

Yes, You Should Ask Your Customers to Leave Google Reviews

In fact, if you look up Google’s own policy on soliciting reviews, you’ll find this:

“Remind your customers to leave reviews. Let them know that it’s quick and easy to leave business reviews on mobile devices or desktop computers.”

Pretty clear, I’d say! Google uses reviews to find out whether businesses are trustworthy or not. It uses that information to rank businesses on Google Maps searches and to rank webpages on their regular organic search. That’s also why they value reviews that are detailed, include keywords, and identify excellent services in direct and concrete ways. It all shows that you are running a business that they can be comfortable pushing on their platform.

Ask for Google Reviews by Email

The easiest way to do it is to ask for reviews by email. Whenever you do work for somebody, send them an email thanking them for choosing your company. This shows your clients that you care about their experiences. And just when they feel appreciated, gently ask them to leave their feedback on your Google My Business page.

Say something like:

“If you enjoyed working with us, please take a moment to leave us your thoughts on Google. 60 seconds of your time will help us continue delivering top-quality service to others just like you! Follow this link to our Google page.”

If they’ve had a great experience with you and feel appreciated, they’ll be happy to leave a review that will help you out.

Ask for Google Reviews in Person

Although it can feel a little bit weird to ask for a review in person, it’s the surest way to get those reviews on your GMB listing. Don’t think of it like you’re bothering them or being sleazy. We live in a time when reviews can make or break a business. If you don’t ask for reviews from clients that know you and respect your work, you’re not taking the necessary precautions to protect and manage your online reputation.

Don’t be shy! It’s just business in 2019.

Ask for Google Reviews on Your Website

This one takes a little bit of tact. You don’t want to make it appear like you’re offering an incentive for people to leave reviews. You want to remind people that leaving a review will help you continue to provide top-quality service and improve your business.

One way that works well is to include testimonials from Google on your website. This will remind and encourage your clients to leave their own review. A simple phrase like “Liked our service? Let us know on Google!” is all you need to increase the number of daily, weekly, and monthly reviews.

Do Not Incentivize Reviews

Offering high-quality service should be incentive enough! But offering compensation for reviews will get you into a lot of trouble with Google. A Louisville, Kentucky law firm offered their clients a chance to win a contest for a review. When they got caught, Google removed 100 online reviews. No mercy!

As we repeat over and over, Google’s whole business model depends on being a trustworthy source of information. Artificial or fake reviews damage Google’s reputation. That hurts their bottom line. And they don’t like that too much.

Need Help Managing Your Online Reputation?

The local SEO experts at LinkNow Media are here to help! If you need help managing reviews, review responses, and your online trustworthiness generally, get in touch with us. We work hard to ensure that our clients turn their online presence into leads! Call us at 1-888-667-7186 or email us at mylocalseo@linknowmedia.com.

Do you have some advice about reviews and reputation management? Leave us a comment below!

Use Reviews to Boost Your Ranking on Google Maps

Online reviews have forever revolutionized the way businesses operate.

Each time a prospective client or consumer searches for a service your business offers, they’ll be met with a multitude of different choices— all in their vicinity. Whether good or bad, your reviews will summarize and highlight your business’s products or service in the interest of informing future customers.

And not only is there a strong correlation between good reviews and new leads, but there’s also a connection between the way businesses rank and the kinds of reviews they get.  While you may not be able to control the tone of your business’s reviews—other than offering clients the best service and the best products you can—there are little things you can do to make sure your reviews get you the ranking you need!

Let’s have a look at a few ideas.

1) Positive Reviews Will Help You Rank

Offer the quality of services and products your clients will be delighted to rave about!

Reviews are formatted in the traditional one-to-five star ranking scale. While you obviously can’t specifically solicit great reviews, if you run the best business you can, the reviews will speak for themselves.

Here’s the thing: you’re much more likely to hear from unsatisfied customers than from satisfied ones. That sounds like an incentive to me!

With an array of glowing, five-star reviews, the clients will come flocking in!

2) Long (Positive) Reviews Make You Appear Trustworthy to Google

Did you know that reviews with words rank better than those without?

Long, detailed reviews will do more than inform future clients about the quality of your products and services. They’ll also show Google that your products are worth a conversation. The simple fact that someone has put their time and energy into writing a detailed positive review, makes your company appear trustworthy for Google.

3) Encourage Your Clients to Become Local Guides for Google

Google lends more weight to reviews left by active users. Google calls these active reviewers Local Guides. By acquiring reviews from these Local Guides, you’ll start ranking a lot faster!

Problem is, it’s not like you can go out there looking for Local Guides to review your product. So, encourage your clients to leave reviews on other businesses as well. With as few as 3 reviews, a Google user will become a trustworthy source in Google’s eyes.

4) Encourage Your Clients to Be Specific About the Services They’re Reviewing

Like the content on your business’s website, online reviews have keyword ranking potential. That means that when your clients leave reviews with specific references to the products or services you offer, you could actually improve your ranking for those keywords.

The more detailed, pertinent, and industry-relevant your business’s reviews are, the better.

5) The More Reviews the Better

This one’s really simple: the more reviews you get, the more likely people are to trust your total rating. The same applies to Google. The more people that are engaged with your Google My Business account, the more authority you’ll build up.

6) Google Loves Reviews with Images

Most of us are visual people. For this reason, it’s wonderful for your business and for prospective clients for your customers to enclose a picture or two with a review. It’s common enough for restaurants where taking pictures of food is practically a subculture—but it applies to all types of businesses!

Are you clients bursting with pride over their stunning new landscape or their gorgeous kitchen remodel? Have them show it off— and with it, your business’s craftsmanship!

7) Respond to All Your Reviews—Fast

Most importantly, interact with your reviews—and your reviewers. Not just the good ones!

The promptness of your reply and the quality of your response are both criteria that Google uses to rank businesses in local search. Be polite, detailed, and concise.

In the case of a complimentary review, thank the client for their patronage and for taking the time to review, and tell them you look forward to serving them again.

For a not-so-complimentary review, offer a genuine apology and seize the opportunity to remedy the situation. It will look so much better than an unanswered post!

Need Help Managing Your Google Reviews? LinkNow Media Can Help!

 At LinkNow Media, reviews and reputation management are our specialties! After almost a decade of success in digital marketing, we have the answers you’re looking for. Ask us anything in the comments below or give us a call at 1-888-667-7186.

Let’s work together to get ranking!

How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews

As a company, generating good online reviews is a great way to drum up business and showcase the value of your services. Of course, not all the reviews you get will be positive, and it’s essential to develop a reputation-management strategy that lets you effectively respond to those that are less than favourable.

With that in mind, we at LinkNow Media have devised the following 5-stage process to help business owners respond to negative reviews.

Five Steps to Writing a Successful Negative Review Response

1.      Evaluate internally

Before responding to a negative review, it’s first important to evaluate its validity. Discuss it with your colleagues: Does it contain any constructive criticism that may help you improve your business practices? Is there anything you could have done differently to change that person’s experience? Even if the reviewer has embellished some aspects of their review, there might be a kernel of truth that could help you improve your business.

By developing an internal evaluation procedure, you’ll be able to approach such reviews with a clear mind and a cooler head. It’ll stop you from posting whatever first pops into your mind. Instead, you’ll be able to focus on the potentially valid criticism a reviewer might have and respond to it appropriately.

2.      Respond publicly

As enticing as it might be, don’t start by reaching out to a reviewer privately. Other viewers need to see that you are addressing such reviews so that they understand you’re trying to redress the problem. Ultimately, it’s best just to respond to the negative review directly on your Google My Business page.

Accessing Your Google My Business Reviews:

  1. Go to business.google.com and sign into Google My Business.
  2. Click on the three horizontal bars in the top left-hand corner of the page.
  3. When you find a review you want to respond to, click “View and reply” (or “Respond now” if on a mobile device).

3.      Empathize

Customers can tell when your response is half-hearted. If you all you post is fluff without substance, they’ll take notice. Worse still, they might think you don’t care about your business.

Show reviewers that you care. Address them by name, thank them for their review, and if possible, highlight something positive they mentioned about your business. If necessary, apologize when you could have done something to improve their experience.

4.      Offer solutions

It’s important to offer customers a solution to their problem. We’re not saying you have to bend over backwards with discounts and full refunds, but you should provide them with something that’s actionable. At the very least, give them the opportunity to reach out to you personally and address their grievances one-on-one.

5.      Move the conversation offline

When you’re offering solutions that require further discussion, it’s best to move the conversation offline. Leave the customer your contact information and let them get back to you. With the ball in their court, you’ve done everything that you can—at least for the time being.

4 Reasons Reviews Are Better for Conversions than Ads

In Part 3 of our reputation management series, we explore the idea that reviews convert better than ads.

For Part 1, click here to learn how to use reviews to generate leads!

For Part 2, click here to control and improve your online reputation!

The digital age has made it easier than ever to access information and yet it often feels impossible to find the right information. With the sheer volume of marketing data that Google churns out on a second-to-second basis, it’s no wonder business owners struggle to navigate those great swaths of information to create an effective advertising strategy.

Fortunately, a safe and reliable solution exists: reviews!

While advertising is still a cornerstone of any sound marketing strategy, generating reviews is more important than ever these days. Plus, it’s an easy and cost-effective way to expand your reach without having to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on advertising. Here are four reasons why you should prioritize generating reviews over advertisements.

1. Reviews are Free Advertisements

Your reviews are a showcase of your achievements. Each one you receive advertises your services and the value you offer to your customers—free of charge. And by letting Google know of your recent activity, they help build your online footprint, improve your business’ online searchability, and generate clicks on your website.

2. Consumers Trust Reviews

82% of U.S. adults read online reviews before buying something for the first time. By and large, consumers consider reviews a trustworthy and reputable source of information. The same cannot be said for ads, which are often perceived as too biased to inform one’s decision-making process. In fact, it’s often unclear what impact—if any—a particular advertisement has on a consumers’ decisions and on a business’ conversation rates.

The way people search for information online has only further cemented this behaviour. More and more, people these days search for reviews when looking for a service. Consequently, Google tends to rank those review pages higher, which makes your business easier to find and more reputable for consumers.

3. Reviews Improve Customer Relationships

Reviews let you open a direct line of communication with your customers. By thanking customers for positive reviews, you show them that you value their support and help build a lasting relationship with them. And by addressing negative reviews, you demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and improving your business model. Reviews help you start a clear dialogue with your customers, in turn cultivating meaningful long-term relationships with them.

4. Reviews Help You Improve

Online reviews are a way for you to solicit genuine constructive feedback for your business. While not all of them will necessarily help you improve your business model, you are bound to find kernels of truth within them that do help. You’ll discover not only what you’re doing right, but also what you can work on to improve your business and make it more marketable to consumers.

Reviews will also help you reflect on the true value of your services. You’ll be able to find out what your consumers want out of your service and how to set yourself apart from your competitors. That way, you can continue to develop your marketing strategy to better reflect the needs of your customers.

Altogether, generating reviews is a reliable, safe, and cost-effective solution to generation leads and building trust with your clients. If you want further information about improving your business’ online reputation, feel free to leave a reply below!

Click here for Part 1 of our reputation management series.

Click here for Part 2 of our reputation management series.

How to Take Control and Improve Your Online Reputation

In Part 2 of our online reputation series, we give you the tools you need to take control of the conversions about your business.

For Part 1, click here to learn how to use reviews to generate leads.

For Part 3, click here to find out why reviews convert better than ads.

If you are new to the world of SEO and online marketing, you might think your company’s reputation is completely out of your hands. When so many people are just typing whatever they want into their computers, how are you supposed to stop them from writing a negative review about your business? How are you supposed to persuade them to write a good review?

If there’s one thing to be learned from our line of work here at LinkNow, it’s up to you to manage your online reputation. It is determined by how you handle every situation—good or bad.

Here are a few ways you can improve your company’s online reputation.

You Received a Negative Review. Now What?

Did you wake up to discover that a customer of yours has penned a negative review about your business? Maybe your team had a bad day and underperformed with the client. Maybe there was some misunderstanding. Maybe the client’s criticisms are unfounded and simply unfair.

In these situations, you might feel attacked and scared for your business. Your gut response might be to respond heatedly and tell this customer just how wrong they are. I mean, they’re attacking your business after all. That business is your livelihood!

We’ll tell you the same thing we tell all our clients at LinkNow: Don’t respond negatively to a negative review! Don’t lose your cool. Doing so might lead to the online equivalent of a shouting match between you and a customer. Is that something you’d want people to see when they walk through your door? Probably not.

Respond Positively to Negative Reviews

Whether they’re right or not it is always in your best interest to do two things:

  1. Publicly respond to the negative review if possible
  2. Be positive and receptive to the dissatisfied client.

Let the customer know you hear their complaints, criticisms, and concerns. When customers air grievances, they might expect a lot of things in return. While you might not be able to turn back time, you can at least let them know they’ve been heard and acknowledged. Let them know that the problem will be addressed with your staff and will not happen again.

Every business gets a negative review every now and then. If you handle it professionally and graciously, customers will chalk the issue up to a misunderstanding or isolated incident.

Ask Newcomers and Regulars for Reviews

Like we said, every business is bound to get one or two negative reviews. What helps is when there are many positive reviews on your Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook pages to make those negative reviews seem less representative of your company.

If your business has been operational since before the advent of social media, asking clients for online reviews might seem kind of strange. You might be worried that you’re being pushy. Don’t be! In the age of ‘Buy Local’, people love supporting local businesses. What better way for them to show their support than to post a glowing, thoughtful, and honest review of your business?

A Reputation Built on Reviews

Before you get customer reviews, you need an online presence. For some business owners, that is especially difficult. At LinkNow Media, we’ve helped over 10,000 small business owners spread the word about their services. Once we’ve established your online presence, you’ll have the customers you need to get those important reviews!

Click here to read Part 3 of our reputation management series!

Get Leads with a Reputation Management Strategy for Small Business

In Part 1 of our online reputation series, we look at how your reputation can be turned into a lead generating machine.

Click here for Part 2 and learn how to take control of your online reputation!

It’s no secret that doing good work and building a good reputation will help your small business. It’s always been that way. Well before the internet was ever even an idea, business owners needed to develop solid relationships with their customers. And those relationships translated to leads.

But with the invention of the internet, it suddenly became impossible to escape your reputation. Your marketing, your reviews, your engagement with clients—it’s all recorded and visible for everyone to see.

In the online world, managing what people read about your small business can mean the difference between success and failure. Join us as we explore the ins and outs of reputation management for small businesses.

What is Reputation Management?

When most small business owners think of managing their online reputation, they think reviews. And while reviews are a good place to start, it’s really just one small part of your digital reputation.

Everything you do online contributes to your reputation. Your content, your marketing, your engagement with clients, your reviews, your business listings, the articles written about you, the comments mentioning you on social media platforms. The list goes on and on.

That’s why it’s important to think of reputation management as an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. Ironically, it’s not about you. It’s about making your clients feel valued. It’s about showing your clients that you care what they think.

Reviews Are Conversion-Ready Free Advertisement!

If you haven’t already, sign up for Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. These three review sites offer small businesses a platform to establish connections with their clients. By filtering fake reviews, each of them has become an authoritative place to learn about a business. People trust what they read there.

Think of reviews as free advertising. People will spread the word about your business often without even being prompted. Ideally, you do good work and your clients leave great reviews. However, even bad reviews can be to your benefit. How?

It’s not always about what the client says. It’s about how you respond to it. Thank people for the good ones and try to find ways to calmly mitigate the bad ones. And don’t leave anyone out!

Studies show that 77% of consumers read reviews before buying something. That means reviews are also an important conversion factor. They are one of the last things a consumer will check before buying a product or service. Many consumers even use filter tools to look view only the 4 and 5-star businesses. Make sure you’re up there with them!

Comments Help You Connect With Your Clients

Are you using social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook? Make sure you keep up-to-date with them by keeping your notifications on. When someone leaves a comment for you, respond to it as promptly as possible.

This will not only show that many people are interested in what you’re offering, but it will also show that you care. Establishing strong lines of communication between yourself and your client-base will make them feel good about spending their hard-earned money on your services rather than your competitor’s.

Advertising and Content Tells Clients What Kind of Business You Are

Ever go to a website and find yourself closing window after window of pop-ups? It sucks.

Certain kinds of advertisements can create the wrong impression of your business. Make sure that when you’re developing your marketing and content strategy, you’re thinking long and hard about how you want to represent your business. Assume that clients will read everything they can find about you online.

Reputation Management From the Pros

If you have a feeling that your business is being mis-represented, contact a reputation management expert for a consultation. At LinkNow Media, reputation management is our specialty. We cover everything from local business listings, to reviews, to comments, to social media posts, to blogs—everything that contributes to your reputation online.

Got a question about managing your reputation, give us a call or leave us a comment below!

Click here to read Part 2 of our reputation management series!

December Fake Review Attack Affects Hundreds of Small Businesses

Throughout the past months, we’ve been writing a lot about the ways that review platforms like Yelp and Google control fake reviews. Google, for example, began systematically deleting anonymous reviews last spring in an effort to make it more difficult for black hat SEOs to do negative SEO attacks.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite solve the problem. Although Google users can no longer post anonymously, they can still create fake profiles and use them to target the competition.

This is exactly what happened in early December, when small businesses across the U.S. and the world were suddenly bombarded with fake 4-star reviews.

Read on if you want to learn how to protect yourself from the next attack.

What We Know About The December Fake Review Attack

Although no one knows who was behind the fake review attack or what their endgame was, we do know a few things.

It appears that around 37 fake profiles were used to leave over 3 million 4-star Google reviews. When you divide it up, the average profile left around 81 000 ratings—in a matter of days. The small business owners affected by the attack were left confused and worried about their rank on Google.

After all, even though the reviews were all 4-star, many business owners speculated about whether they’d be punished for artificially inflating their rating.

Luckily, the sheer scale of the attack was enough to set Google in motion straight away. Within 5 days they had taken all (or nearly all) of the fake reviews offline. But even though the ratings returned to normal those affected still don’t have the answers they need.

Possible Motives For The Attack

After reviewing the affected businesses, it’s still unclear why they were targeted and not others. In many ways it appears to have been random. The only thing that connects all the victims together is that they were typically small businesses.

Many people asked why 4-star reviews were used for the attack rather than 1 or 2-star reviews. Perhaps it was an attempt to veil the attack in the hopes that Google would punish many of those businesses for inflating their ratings.

Although it’s pure speculation, there’s also the possibility that this was a kind of test operation—an attempt to work out a plan of action for another attack that would be subtler and on a larger scale. It’s hard to say exactly, but we’re happy it’s been taken care of.

It could’ve also been an attempt show that Google reviews are not so legitimate as they’d like them to appear. Vulnerabilities like the ones the attack made visible, serve to disrupt Google’s own trustworthiness­­—and the irony isn’t lost on us!

Why Is It Important To Understand Fake Reviews?

At LinkNow Media, reviews and ratings form a large part of our reputation management strategy. From the point of view of conversion, we know that most clients will check Google reviews before making a purchase.

The problem is not just related to conversion either. It’s also about trust. A lot of web traffic is the result of business listing website clicks. Business owners with untrustworthy reviews may experience sudden traffic drops simply due to clients opting for the competition.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Google establishes rankings with the trustworthiness of your online presence in mind. If you have fake reviews on Google (and elsewhere), you could find yourself running into problems with your rankings.

Conclusion

Keep track of who is reviewing your listings and what they are saying. Be vigilant. All the time. Every day.

If you notice suspicious activity, report it to Google. Take a look through SEO blogs to see if anyone’s talking about an attack. If you’re not sure about it or would like some advice, call LinkNow Media to speak with one of our SEO experts!

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?

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.

The Best Customer Review Sites for Your Business

The Best Customer Review Sites for Your Business

It is great if your business gets a good customer review. It means you’ve succeeded in satisfying your client’s needs, and maybe you even exceeded their expectations. Customer reviews are also great for those internet-searching clients looking to find the best businesses in their area. Many consumers rely on customer feedback to help them make decisions. 90% of consumers, in fact, will seek out customer reviews for your business for they give you a call or step in your door. Many of these consumers trust the reviews of anonymous customers as much as they trust the reviews of their own friends and family!

That’s why it is important to know which review sites to direct your energy towards, and which ones to ignore. As you can imagine, there are a variety of customer review sites at your fingertips. Some are so obvious you might overlook them, while others might surprise you. Here are a few of the best:

Google My Business Reviews

To fully utilize the power of Google, every business owner should claim their business on Google My Business. Once your business is claimed and verified, you can edit this listing and optimize it to your heart’s content—the more reflective of your business it is, the better. When someone Googles your business, this listing will be the first thing they see. The average consumer still holds Google in high esteem—and rightly so. A claimed and optimized Google listing will be enticing to reviewers, and those reviews will be the first thing potential customers see when they Google your company!

Yelp Reviews

You’ve probably heard of this one too. Yelp is one of the most popular customer review sites in the world. Every business needs to have a Yelp presence these days. On average, this platform gets about 142 million users per month. Consumers usually take those one or two negative Yelp reviews with a grain of salt, while always being more persuaded by the positive reviews. Encourage your customers to leave you a good review!

Facebook Reviews

This is a great platform for customers to communicate with you and other consumers. Everyone uses Facebook now, so if your company hasn’t utilized Facebook, we strongly advise you to do so soon. Consumers who don’t even rely on more popular customer review sites might stumble upon your business while browsing through Facebook. If you have a strong Facebook presence and your page is full of positive reviews, you’ll be a standout company in their eyes.

Reviews on Your Own Website

Yes, we can mention Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Better Business Bureau, and many other customer review sites for your B2B and B2C company, but none of these provide you with the same control a website does. With your own website, you can publicize your best reviews, your awards, accreditation, and more. A sleek, well-designed website with glowing testimonials and customer reviews will give any consumer the assurance they need.

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