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Do Online Reviews Matter in 2021?

Man in suit scratching his head with caption: Do reviews even matter?

Countless online marketing studies indicate that most consumers will read reviews before hiring a service, visiting a restaurant, or shopping online. Consumers read reviews because they want to know what they’re getting and recognize that there are many businesses to choose from—and they see the value of their dollar.

But if you provide quality services and have developed an excellent reputation by word of mouth, are online reviews really important?

Short Answer: YES!

In short, if consumers are reading reviews online, you should be encouraging your clients to write them. You should also be interacting with these reviews directly, be it on your Google my Business Page, Yahoo Reviews, or Facebook – why you may ask? Let’s take a look.

Reviews Boost SEO

For starters, online reviews can really help online traffic and SEO – and isn’t that what we’re all here for?

Google, the Internet’s most prominent and essential review platform, prioritizes customer experience. Because so many people read reviews, especially when searching their local area, Google has included these reviews as a local search ranking signal.

The bottom line is the more reviews you have, the better your search results will be.

Reviews Are Key to Customer Service

Though it may seem awkward to ask your clients to leave you an online review, most will be happy to do so as long as you let them know how. Expressing interest in feedback also bodes well for your business, as it exemplifies your commitment to the customer experience and its betterment overall.

Responding to reviews is also important as it allows the client to feel heard and understood by the company, making it more likely they’ll return for more business in the future.

Reviews Help You Improve Client Experiences

Reading reviews and receiving feedback is also perhaps the most valuable way to learn how to improve your business moving forward.

If you are getting the same kind of complaints over and over, you’ll know you’re doing something wrong. Customers who are invested in your business may also have great suggestions for changes you can make to modernize the operation or make it more accessible to different demographics – just to name a few examples.

Reviews Help Build Community

Building a community is a huge part of building a business. Having customers comment not only on your products and services but also on your approach to client care, the atmosphere of your commercial space, and how they feel will give people a richer understanding of the culture of your business.

Question and answer interactions can also play a significant role in developing community ties. Responding to negative reviews can give potential customers an idea of how you deal with conflict resolution.


Overall, online reviews play a significant role in your business, and they shouldn’t be overlooked. So start reading, replying, and asking your customers to write their own, especially when they have a great experience.

Convinced of the power of reviews? Got any review-generation tips yourself? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below! And if you need help managing your online reputation, contact LinkNow at 888-667-7186 or website@linknowmedia.com.

Should You Ask Clients to Review You on Google? [2021]

Should You Ask for Google Reviews(1)By now, everyone knows how important it is to get their customers to leave positive, 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 conflate 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.”

—Google My Business Help

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.

Google Reviews Can Attract Clicks from New Customers

Positive reviews are important for gaining more traffic.

It’s not just about search algorithms, either. There’s a very human component too. Consumers almost always read reviews before trying any new service or product. They depend on those reviews to help them make an informed decision, and the content in those reviews is often the deciding factor.

In general, consumers want to see reviews with:

  1. High ratings
  2. Positive words in review text
  3. Many positive, detailed reviews

People are naturally drawn to businesses with those 3 factors going for them.

Search for businesses in your industry and see which Google My Business (GMB) profiles you are most attracted to, and which ones you think you would call. You’ll notice that profiles with more reviews and a higher rating are much more appealing than those without.

How to Ask Clients for Google Reviews

Now that you know how important it is to ask clients to review you, let’s look at how you should ask them.

Ask Every Customer for a Review

It’s important to ask every customer for a review. Behind Google My Business profiles, reviews are the 2nd most important ranking factor Google looks at for their local finder results. This means that the amount and quality of reviews you receive has a significant impact on the ranking of your business on Google.

If you are just getting started on asking customers for reviews, it can take some time before it has any impact on your ranking.

Our advice?

Be persistent and you’ll start reaping the rewards of your hard work before you know it.

4 Proven Techniques for Asking for Google Reviews

It’s time to start drafting and asking clients to leave you a review! Here are 4 of our top practices to keep in mind.

1. Ask for Google Reviews by Email

The easiest way to get reviews 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.

2. 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 2021.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Google Review “Snippets”

Snippets are a feature Google has implemented to make searching easier for the user.

Review snippets appear on a business’s Google My Business page, just below their contact details. These snippets provide a snapshot of one customer review highlighting a keyword in the user’s search query:

Google search results showing local heating repair companies. Highlighted is a listing with a review snippet that reads: "I had a furnace/heating issue and called Martin."

Your clients leave important keywords while reviewing your business. So, the more reviews you have under your belt, the more opportunity Google has to select from your reviews to match people’s searches. This will inevitably draw people to your business because it will make you stand out from the competition—yet another excellent reason to ask every customer for a review on your Google My Business profile.

Google Reviews are an Easy Way to Grow Your Business Online!

Consistently asking your clients to review your services will help your business grow. As Google emphasizes its reviews feature in different ways, business owners like yourself should take advantage of it.

Using these simple methods will improve your reputation and grow your business. Let us know how they help in the comments below!

 

 

 

Yelp Reviews: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Everything you need to know about Yelp reviews.
It’s no secret that online reviews can make or break a business—and Yelp is the undisputed king of dedicated review sites.

Most business owners in 2021 will have likely already heard the name Yelp, but they might not be aware of just how large a role it can play in their success. Founded in 2004, Yelp has maintained steady growth and a consistent user base, many of whom take the platform’s ratings as gospel.

The result? Yelp can be a powerful tool, or a thorn in your side. Here’s what you need to know—the good, the bad, and the ugly about Yelp—to make the most of it.

The Good

Making the Most of Your Yelp Page

Though you can’t directly control the feedback that your customers provide, you can use Yelp to promote positive reviews for your business.

By taking the time to give your Yelp page some attention (and by providing good service overall), you can increase the likelihood your customers will leave you a glowing testimonial.

Follow these three guidelines, and you’ll be on your way to Yelp greatness.

1.     Claim and Manage Your Yelp Page

First, activate your business page on Yelp. If your business is already on Yelp, claim your page so you have ownership. Doing so is essential, giving you the authority to make changes and respond to reviews.

After you have claimed or created a listing for your business, take the time to add photos, phone numbers, and hours of operation—it will make you look more professional and provide customers with all the information they need.

2.     Advertise That You Are on Yelp

Customers will be much more likely to leave you a rating on Yelp if they know you are on there.

Yelp offers many different ways to promote pages, both physically and digitally.

Posting a “Find us on Yelp” sign on your door or inside your establishment is a great way to subtly advocate for reviews. You can also add a Yelp QR code to your storefront, or a digital badge that links your website to your Yelp page.

3.     Respond to Yelp Reviews

Receiving reviews on your Yelp page—positive or negative—provides a great opportunity to show that you care about your business. Taking a few minutes to acknowledge people’s experiences will show you take all feedback seriously.

You might not be able to resolve all the issues that appear in your reviews, but by replying, you can prove that you are passionate about providing the best service possible.

The Bad

Avoid These Yelp Blunders

You might be eager to start promoting your Yelp page, but there are some important things to note first.

There are a few rules for advertising your business on the platform that should be followed to avoid any penalties. Yelp is strict with scammy, spammy, and unsavvy behavior, so don’t get yourself caught doing something against their guidelines.

Above all, heed the following:

1.     Do Not Offer Rewards for Reviews

Never advertise any discount or deal in exchange for Yelp reviews. It is perfectly acceptable to request reviews from your customers, but they must never be bribed in order to do so.

2.     Do Not Ask for Positive Reviews

Yelp clarifies that while it is perfectly okay to remind your customers to leave reviews, you must not specifically request positive reviews. Instead, you should focus on providing the best experience possible and hope that the feedback you receive accurately reflects your hard work.

3.     Do Not Buy Yelp Reviews

Paying a review-generating service to bump up your rating on Yelp may seem like a fast track to the top, but it is absolutely not worth the risk. Not only is it dishonest—it could result in a large warning being attached to your Yelp page to alert customers of your shady reviews.

Buying fake reviews is never worth it, least of all on Yelp. Their review filter is notoriously strict, removing almost any review that has even a hint of phoniness.

The Ugly

Dealing with Negative Reviews

If your business is available to be reviewed online, it is only a matter of time before you receive your first negative review. That being said, you don’t need to panic just because you noticed a 1-star rating.

No business is perfect, but it is important to acknowledge your mistakes and move forward as gracefully as possible. It never feels good to receive a negative testimonial, but you can mitigate the damage and put a positive spin on things by keeping the following tips in mind.

Remain Calm

Your first instinct might be to push back against your unsatisfied customer, but this will never help your situation. Instead, take a moment to reflect on the review and why the person left it before drafting your reply.

By taking a level-headed approach and treating your reviewer with respect, you can highlight your professionalism to prospective customers in the future.

Acknowledge Criticism and Promise to Do Better

Negative reviews don’t always have to be a bad thing. They provide a great opportunity to reflect on your customer service and improve on any shortcomings.

If you receive complaints about a particular aspect of your business, try to empathize with the person leaving the review and offer solutions about how you can make things right.

Focus on the Good

It is also a smart idea to highlight any positive content in the bad reviews you receive.

Did someone receive poor service at your restaurant but enjoy their food? Take a moment to apologize for the bad experience and express your pride in your product and invite them to give you another shot.

Read more on how respond to negative online reviews

Using Yelp to Your Advantage

Yelp is a fantastic platform for increasing awareness of your business and showcasing your top-notch service. But it’s not the only factor that determines your success.

Your primary focus should always be to provide the best experience for your customers—do this, and everything else will fall into place. Give good service, and your standing in Yelp will follow. Think of your Yelp as the result of your hard work rather than the goal you strive for.


 

Have your own Yelp story to share? Got any tips that worked for you? Leave a comment below!

If  you need help managing your online reputation, the digital marketing masters at LinkNow are here to help. Contact us at 1.888.667.7186 or website@linknowmedia.com for more details about what we can do for you.

How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews [2021]

US - How to Respond to Negative Reviews in 2021

As a company, generating positive online reviews is a great way to drum up business and showcase the value of your services.

But not all the reviews you get will be positive. When the time comes, you need to know how to respond to those not-so-savory reviews, so you can maintain your reputation.

Here are 5 steps you can take when responding to negative reviews online.

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.

  1. 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 google.comand sign in to 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).
  4. Empathize

Customers can tell when your response is half-hearted. If 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.

  1. Offer solutions

It’s important to offer customers a solution to their problem. We’re not saying you have to bend over backward 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.

  1. 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.

Tips for Wording Your Review Response

Now that we’ve covered the steps you should take when your business receives a negative review, let’s go over some tips to make your response as effective as possible.

It pays to formulate a well-thought-out reply. Just responding to a negative review isn’t enough. You have to say something meaningful to resolve the conflict.

By adhering to the following guidelines, you can avoid fanning the flames and ensure future customers are willing to give your business a chance.

Personalize Your Reply

After having a negative experience with a company, the last thing that someone wants is to be brushed off or treated like a cog in the wheel. By taking the time to address your customer by name, instead of using generic replies such as “dear customer,” you can make your response feel more sincere.

Remember Your Industry

A response that someone would expect from a restaurant is different from what they’d expect from a contractor, so you should always keep your industry in mind when responding.

Think about why that person came to your business in the first place and put yourself in the shoes of potential customers who might be swayed by the way you respond. It also helps to research successful businesses in your field to see how they deal with negative comments and then basing your approach on this.

A Little Grammar Goes a Long Way

By making an effort to proofread your reply before posting it, you can avoid grammatical mistakes or oversights. A well-structured response will reinforce that you are a professional business owner who gives full attention to their customers. Keep it personal, but keep it professional.

Avoid Over-Apologizing

Although offering your sympathies is important when responding to negative reviews, don’t be too aplogetic. It can come off as unprofessional, as if you’re grovelling to claw back that customer. Keep your apologies brief and instead focus on your commitment to excellent service and the steps you will take to make things right.

Follow the Trends

When all else fails, a good strategy for responding is to follow what is effective for other businesses. Utilize what has proven worthwhile for successful companies and structure your reply around the most common topics.

In descending order, here’s what’s most often done in review responses:

  • Thank the reviewer for their feedback
  • Focus on customer service
  • Encourage the reviewer to contact directly
  • Discuss the customer experience
  • Inviting them to return
  • Apologizing

By The Numbers: The Importance of Responding to Reviews

45% of consumers say they are more likely to visit a business if they respond to negative reviews.

That figure just goes to show you how essential responding to negative reviews can be. If you ignore the feedback you receive, you could be leaving money on the table. Up to 45% of it.

By taking a few minutes to address your negative reviews in a timely manner, you can show that you truly care about providing your customers with a first-rate experience.

Need Help Managing Your Online Reputation? LinkNow to the Rescue!

Negative reviews can be intimidating—we know. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

If you would like some professional assistance with managing your business on Google, consider getting in touch with the specialists at LinkNow Media. Reach us at 1.888.667.7186 or website@linknowmedia.com to learn more about what we offer.

3 Quick Tricks to Get More Google Reviews

Man pointing finger in background with text in foreground: More reviews, more business.

No matter the quality of your services, what your clients have to say about your business will always carry more weight than what you have to say about your business.

That’s why getting reviews is so crucial. Because customers place so much value on reviews, creating a space where clients can share their experiences should be a top priority.

With that in mind, here are 3 tips to get more Google reviews.

1.     Provide Exceptional Services and Prioritize Customer Experience

If you’re looking to get more reviews, you want those reviews to be good. So, to get good reviews you need to be providing excellent services.

While providing great services may seem like a no-brainer, there is a bit of strategy to it.

Here are a few tricks to deliver a stellar client experience:

  • Take the time to listen to your customer’s goals
  • Reiterate these goals to them
  • Involve them in the process
  • Address concerns right away
  • Go out of your way to be friendly and communicative

2.     Simplify the Process

Some clients won’t leave you a review because they don’t know how or simply don’t think of it. To counter this, make it super easy. At the very least, add a link to your Google review page on your website. We also recommend adding the link to the end of an email, on your social media, or on a physical business card.

If you cater to an older demographic, providing step-by-step instructions or screenshots of the process can also be helpful and increase the likelihood of participation.

3.     Ask Your Clients to Leave Reviews

Don’t be afraid to ask your clients to leave reviews, in person, on the phone, or in a follow-up email.

You may be surprised to know that 86% of consumers are willing to write a review, and directly asking them significantly improves your chances of receiving one.

Let your clients know how valuable their input is and how sharing their experience could help customers just like them.

Respond to Your Google Reviews, Good AND Bad

That’s right:

Respond to all Google reviews, both good and bad.

At its essence, the Google review page is a conversation between you and your clients. Not only does it allow customers to share their experiences, but it gives you the space to respond.

It’s easy to respond to good reviews. A quick “thank you!” goes a long way. But bad reviews give you a chance to show off your professionalism and flex your conflict-resolution skills—an invaluable skill for any business owner.

Respond professionally and promptly with helpful solutions that invite them to contact you again. By doing so, you’ll impress visitors who see how much you care about all customers, satisfied or otherwise.

Get People Talking About Your Business!

The bottom line is this:

The more reviews you have, the better.

Providing great services is the first step to getting good reviews. But don’t forget to follow through.  Ask your clients to review your business.

Send them a link.

Email a link.

Add a Google Review badge onto the home page of your website.

The best way to get reviews, is to ask for reviews. So ask away.


 

Found this post useful? Want more guidance? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

If you need help setting up your Google My Business or getting more Google reviews, contact us at website@linknowmedia.com to see what we can do for you.

Millennials and Reviews

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The largest generational cohort since the baby boomers, millennials are the largest generation in US history, and their shopping habits are shaping our economy more and more.

This tech-savvy generation has a purchasing power that will soon exceed that of every other generation. Strong supporters of online shopping, millennials are cautious as well, putting off large purchases until later in life and valuing quality over price.

It’s no surprise that with all the information available at their fingertips, they put research into their purchases whether it’s a physical one, or a service. That’s where reviews come in.

The Importance of User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) such as status updates on social media, blog posts and Google reviews are what make the millennial consumer’s world go around. The more viral and liked a product or service is by peers, the more likely they are to purchase it themselves.

In past generations, the professional opinion was king, but with a growing distrust for mainstream media and big corporations, this generation finds themselves turning to the most trusted source: mass approval.

Some may see this as illogical, but to understand the logic, consider this: Professionals may have appeared on adverts or written articles on a product, but was this always of their own volition? If not, someone wanted them doing that promotion for a reason. And can you really trust that?

UGC: Investing in Time to Make Solid Investments

Millennials spend 18 hours with media per day. Astounding, right? Some of us aren’t even awake for 18 hours of the day! Thirty percent of this time is spent browsing UGC, 33% on traditional media such as print and TV, and 37% on other media.

No matter what they’re looking at, and especially when it’s online, products are being promoted.

When something catches their eye, their first instinct is to look that product up online to see if it is legitimately what they expect, and to see if it’s worth buying.

If they’re looking for a service, Google reviews will be their first stop. If your business isn’t listed on a Google My Business page and set up with a star rating, you’re in trouble!

With 90% of millennials shopping online, your online presence is more important than ever. You just can’t afford to stay in the stone age.

Influence With Technology

Most millennials are obsessed with reviews. With apps like Yelp and Foursquare, everyone has a place to speak their mind. Whether you’re reading entertaining negative reviews, leaving one yourself, or praising the best pizza you’ve ever tried, reviews are fascinating and, for the most part, trustworthy.

Whether they’re aware of it or not, millennials have their antenna up for star ratings and reviews no matter where they are online and if there are no reviews to be found, it’s likely they’ll find a more reliable product.

So go the extra mile and make sure that your business is getting lots of great reviews. Rank higher on search engines, and bring in that amazing millennial purchasing power!

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