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How Online Reviews Impact Your Local SEO

More and more businesses are realizing the importance of online reviews when it comes to promoting their product or service, but did you know reviews also affect your Search Engine Optimization? SEO is just as crucial to the promotion of a business in 2017 because it means a boost in your ranking. For example, if someone is searching for a hair salon there are many options. But if you have the best SEO, they’ll find you first.

When you’re trying to beef up your SEO online reviews are critical to this process. Search engines love fresh user generated content, and customers love social proof. In fact, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Search engines like Google or Bing are in the business of creating fast and accurate search results, and the input from real people in the form of reviews is a great way to do this. In a recent study by Moz it was determined that reviews make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank results.

Factors that can play into your business’ SEO include a variety of signals such as linking, keywords and categories, with reviews coming in before social media in terms of boosting your business!

Google favors high-rated sites, and in a world where customers spend 31% more on a business with good reviews, you’ll want to get a review gathering strategy in place if you don’t already have one!

A good way to do this is request that happy customers leave a review. If you’re selling online, include your request in a thank you email. At a physical store, create a flyer you can drop in a customer’s bag along with their merchandise. You can even create a landing page on your website linking to review sites for the ultimate ease of access.

Review sites that will get the results you’re looking for include:

Google My Business/

Yelp

Foursquare

Citysearch

YP.com

Try the Review Handout Generator by Whitespark and Phil Rozek if you need an easy way to create handouts for your store, then wait for the reviews to start flowing!

Asking for reviews can be a bit of a scary process, considering you can land on a customer who’s not happy with their interaction. But don’t worry—even negative reviews keep your business active from a search engine’s point of view, and as long as you respond to all negative reviews in a calm and professional manner, you’ll be just fine.

Finally, on your quest for reviews, don’t be tempted into paying for fake reviews. This is considered fraud and you could be in big financial trouble for doing it. Not to mention, it’s just better to have legitimate reviews for your business. Even if they’re criticizing you, you can learn something from unhappy customers.

No matter the size or type of business you run, online reviews are imperative to keeping it running successfully. So, go and gather reviews and see just how good the results are!

A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

Tact at All Times

When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:

Breathe

Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

Don’t take it personally.

A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

Address the issue.

Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

State your core values.

Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

Make a game plan.

Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

Say thank you.

Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

Keep on Keeping on

Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

How to Spring Clean Your Business’s Yelp Reviews

springReviews are an increasingly important way that customers engage with a brand, product, or business. A good review can win over potential customers the same way that a negative review can do the opposite. A constant stream of positive reviews on your Yelp page suggests that your business is popular, successful, and well run. At LinkNow Media, we believe that in the spirit of spring, it is always a good idea to do some spring cleaning. This includes putting in order strategies to increase positive reviews on Yelp. The following are some easy ways to encourage new positive reviews.

Encourage New Reviews

The best way to encourage your clients to review your business is by providing great service and asking them about their experience upon completion. Speaking with your customers in person about their opinion of your service allows for an opportunity for you to remedy any disappointments or concerns before they make it to the internet. After speaking with your customer, gently encourage them to write a review if they are so inclined, and thank them graciously for their patronage. This will make your clients feel appreciated and as if their opinions are valued and taken into consideration.

Respond to Challenging Reviews

The best way to respond to challenging customer reviews is to firstly wait 24 hours before responding. This will give you sufficient time to approach the situation with intellect rather than emotion. The second tip is to let go of any defensive tendencies you may have to show your point of view. It’s not about your defense, it’s about the client’s perceived experience. Lastly, just go with it. Accept your client’s criticism with kindness, grace and dignity. Offer your sincere apologies and hope they will give you another shot. If you have lost them, at least you have demonstrated your ability to extend kindness and generosity to other potential clients who may have read this online interaction.

LinkNow Media always recommends that you choose which reviews to respond to wisely. Address reviews with specific complaints, or that seem genuine and not mean spirited. This will more likely be worth your while as opposed to engaging with an internet troll.

Share Positive Reviews!

If there is a particularly glowing review that made an impression on you, feel free to publicly thank your customer for being so generous with their words! Trust us, it won’t go unnoticed.

Is Asking for Yelp Reviews Hurting Your Small Business?

waffleIt’s a fair assumption to make that anyone who owns a business knows a thing or two about the importance of having a good rating on Yelp. Positive reviews from satisfied customers are enough to win over someone who has no idea where to go for breakfast, a haircut, or an oil change. It comes as no surprise then that many business owners urge happy customers to go to Yelp to share their experience. After all, the more people writing positive reviews, the higher the rating, right? This might not be the case. Yelp themselves discourages business owners from asking for reviews because asking people for reviews creates a bias. Because really, would you encourage an unhappy customer to write a review?

Whether you agree with their point or not, reviews that have been strong armed are likely to be flagged by Yelp’s recommendation software. So, here are alternative ways that you can get happy customers to write a review about your business.

Add a Review Badge

The last thing you want is to offer discounts or freebies as incentive for customers to write reviews. Not only does this run the risk of being flagged, it’s bribery. Let others know you’re on Yelp by using a review badge. Once your business page is set up, you’ll notice that you’ll have the option of adding a Review Badge to your website. This is a great way to drive traffic to your Yelp page from your website.

Choose Your Words Wisely

We’ve all been there – a waiter asks how everything was, and you respond by saying it was good, even when it wasn’t. Or a hairdresser asks if you like your new haircut, and you say yes, but it’s the worst haircut you’ve ever received. The point here is that unless someone is throwing you flowers, there is no way of knowing if someone had a pleasant experience or is just being polite. Only when someone is over the moon about your service or product should you drop a hint to leave an online review.

Share Reviews

Even if someone doesn’t write Yelp reviews, they rely on Yelpers to get a better idea about where to spend their time and money. So, throw them a bone. If you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em. Don’t be shy to share Yelp reviews on other social media platforms, like Facebook. You also have the option of posting all your reviews by changing the settings in your Yelp account. All you need to do is check the “connect to Facebook” option under the “External Services Settings.” This will prompt you to allow Yelp access to your business Facebook account. If you choose to display all your Yelp reviews on your Facebook wall, be sure that you respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. You can brush up on appropriate ways of responding to negative reviews by clicking here.

Add the Yelp Icon to Your Signature

If you are like most businesses these days, you communicate with clients via email, whether for business updates or sending out campaigns. The average person is not going to your business or enlisting your services with the end-goal of writing a Yelp review, so they might need a nudge to follow through on doing so. A small Yelp icon in your signature is like a call to action.

Provide Exceptional Service

The single best way to get positive reviews on Yelp is by providing your customers with excellent service. This might sound obvious, but it can be easy to lose sight of good old fashioned customer service when your main focus is getting a 5 star-rating on Yelp. This could cause you to be overly enthusiastic, or worse bothersome. Give your customers a delightful, stress-free experience and positive reviews will come rolling in.

 

Is Yelp Hurting Your Business?

chipsYelp is a social network that allows users to rate and review businesses. For over a decade, consumers have considered this local directory-style site a helpful source for finding new restaurants, stores, hairdressers, mechanics, and more. For some business owners, however, Yelp is anything but helpful. Many have accused Yelp for favoring businesses that have paid for advertisements and punishing those who have not.

Does Yelp Pick Favorites?

Yelp uses an algorithm to filter reviews as an effort to red flag reviews that appear to be fraudulent and to display reviews that appear to be relevant and trustworthy. According to Yelp, their software looks at a variety of signals to measure quality, readability, and legitimacy. They deny any alleged claims accusing them of  having any bias.

As far as the filtering goes, however, the algorithm seems to more lenient with negative reviews, hiding positive reviews under the not recommended section at the bottom of the page, many of which, are often from legitimate, satisfied customers. This is where small business owners grow frustrated.

You Should Be On Yelp!

If someone is searching for good, cheap tacos, they’re likely heading to Yelp. If someone is looking for a laundry delivery service, they’re heading to Yelp. If someone is curious about a new clothing boutique, they’re heading to Yelp. It isn’t hard to see – scrolling through reviews on Yelp is usually someone’s first step in the buying process.

Despite the ambiguity that surrounds Yelp’s filtering algorithm, it’s in your best interest to create a profile. If consumers aren’t going directly to the site, they are using the Yelp app, and if they aren’t using the app, they’re going there from a Google search. Yelp typically shows up on the first page of Google for searches related to the company name or service, so it is extremely helpful in building your web presence.

What About Negative Reviews?

In a perfect world, you’d only get words of praise. The fact of the matter is that you’ll get a handful of bad reviews. Where these are displayed is out of your control, but responding to them is in your control, and that is something you should do.

At LinkNow Media, we’ve pointed at the importance of responding to negative reviews  in the past, and the same points can be applied to addressing an unsatisfied customer on Yelp. Acknowledge what the customer is saying, offer a sincere apology, and find a solution to their specific problem. A negative comment is always an opportunity to show how far you will go to satisfy a customer.

That’s not all. You can incorporate them into your business operations. You know what they say: you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Look at Yelpers as a free improvement squad there to point out what’s working and what isn’t.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that that Yelp reviews play a very important factor in how consumers make decisions. How Yelp’s filtering algorithm will evolve in the coming years is anyone’s guess. One thing is for certain, though – people are generally good at spotting fake and authentic reviews. The more scrutiny that is placed on Yelp’s software, the more likely people are to check out hidden reviews.

3 Reasons Why You Should Share Yelp Reviews on Facebook

yelp yelpFacebook is a great platform for enhancing your brand image, sharing ongoing promotions, and building meaningful relationships. If you manage your company’s Facebook page and post regularly, you are likely already doing these things. However, can you be doing more? If you have a Yelp profile, you should consider sharing your customer’s positive reviews with your Facebook friends. This is one area that many businesses shy away from because it involves tooting your own horn, but you shouldn’t be afraid to share what others are saying about you, especially words of praise.

If you don’t like the idea of boasting your achievements, here are three reasons that might change your mind:

Your customers will love it!

Yelpers take writing reviews very seriously. They see it their duty to help others by sharing their experience with your company, regardless of if it was positive or negative. So, what’s in it for them? Besides perks, like free food at restaurants, Yelpers don’t really get paid. Putting a Yelp reviewer in the spotlight is like giving them a virtual slap on the back. They will love the limelight, and this exposure has the potential to opens doors of opportunity.

It’s free and easy advisement!

Word of mouth is still the best form of advertisement, and it won’t cost you a cent! Plus, Yelp makes sharing reviews via Facebook as easy as clicking a few buttons. All you need to do is log in to your business account, go to “Account Settings”, click “Change Settings” in “External Services,” then click “Connect to Facebook.” From there, all you need to do is log in to your Facebook account and click the “Allow” button. Now, all of your Yelp reviews will post to your Facebook wall. That means negative reviews, too. This something that every business will have to deal with at one point or another, even businesses with high ratings. Look at it as an opportunity to show your customers that you will go the extra mile to find a solution and fix a problem.

Others will follow suit!

Sometimes all it takes is one happy customer for positive reviews to spread like wildfire. A positive review can encourage a Facebook friend to comment or head to Yelp to share a similar experience. Sharing your Yelp reviews on Facebook grants you access to an audience you couldn’t reach on Yelp alone. Keep in mind, if you don’t want to automatically share reviews, you can always copy and paste the review as a status.

Closing

While Yelp may be more popular for those in the food and beverage industry, any business of any size can benefit from creating a Yelp profile. Once created, your customers can easily find your business location, post reviews and photos, and rate your business! Let them do most of the legwork. You work hard enough!

 

 

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