Reviews are considered by Google when ranking a website. Positive reviews on sites like truelocal, womo and Google+ will help you stay ahead of your competitors so that potential customers find you more easily.
Review and rating websites
Google does not preference reviews on Google+ Local compared to other directory websites. Get your happy clients to leave reviews on whichever websites they are most comfortable using. For example we have profiles setup for Jezweb on:
- Word-of-Mouth-Online – womo.com.au
- Google Plus – plus.google.com
- Yelp – yelp.com.au
- TrueLocal – truelocal.com.au
- DLook – dlook.com.au
- Business – business.com.au
- YellowPages – yellowpages.com.au
- LocalBusinessGuide – localbusinessguide.com.au
- StartLocal – startlocal.com.au
- Gumtree – gumtree.com.au
These are a selection of prominent business directories in Australia. There are industry specific ones too like HomeImprovementPages which is great for trades and home building industry businesses and facebook pages have a review mechanism too.
Get reviews on your business profile pages
Get some reviews on your listing. But don’t just write one yourself. If you do write one of your own then be open about the fact that it is you leaving the review but don’t write a review, put in something about how you are happy to be able to provide service and if possible link to another review site where you have positive customer reviews or testimonials.
No fake reviews or review spam
Do not write fake reviews or testimonials and don’t use a review writing service. People can sniff a fake or will suspect that you’ve just written it yourself. Reviewers do not write the same way that a company would review itself.
Help clients submit their testimonials to WOMO
With the Jezweb listing on WOMO we will usually insert the written testimonial provided by a client along with their name and email address but it won’t be active until they click on the link in the email they receive to approve the testimonial. I have tried just sending the link to ‘leave a testimonial’ and even for a reasonably tech savvy person it was confusing because they had to make a WOMO login first.
Don’t worry if there are a few ‘bad’ reviews
If all the reviews are glowingly positive then the reader might suspect that they were being filtered. Having a few reviews which are less than perfect in their ratings lends to the authenticity of the reviews as a whole. Most review sites let you respond to a review so you can explain the situation and apologise or remedy the situation. If there are any really wildly unfair reviews that you can’t reply to or filter then most people who see it will have their moron filter active and skip it or give it little credence so long as there are plenty of positive reviews to counter it.
When you connect your Google Places for Business account with your Google+ account, you gain the ability to respond publicly to reviews. So when a negative review does come in, you have an opportunity to tactfully correct any inaccuracies and offer a solution to the problem.
We believe strangers who say good things about others
What someone other than you says about your business is far more powerful than anything you can say. Immediately when we promote ourselves or our businesses the person listening to a sales pitch will hear it through a trust filter and their mind will be waiting to hear bias or unsubstantiated claims. Even when we know and like the person we can’t help but be listening for evidence of bias if we think we are listening to a sales pitch.
Edification from a 3rd party
There is a very good reason why movies, books and every product on amazon.com have reviews and testimonials; they work, and they work well. We innately trust what someone that we have never met says about a company or another person more than what the subject says about themselves. It is the ‘out of town expect with a briefcase’; edification is a solid way of validating the credentials of a 3rd party.
Reviews which are not on your own website and have been published by someone other than you have more credibility than any words you can write or say.
You can convey believability in a simple video
I have discovered that if you produce a video or audio which is honest and clear then people will hear the truthful nature of your speech and feel more comfortable and at ease with the message you are conveying compared to written words which their brains analyse with scrutiny.
Google logins are everywhere
With Google+ reviews though this isn’t so much of a problem because most people have some kind of Google login now whether through youtube or gmail or such, even though they might not use it often they are quite possibly already logged in to a Google service and can write a review without any delay.
Encourage clients to post their testimonials on your Google+ page and other review directories
If you already have some testimonials from your customers, ask them if they could write them on your Google+ Local listing. Send them a link to your listing to make it easier. If you don’t already have testimonials from your customers, start asking for them. Ask them to review directly onto your Google page. It’s easy to cut and paste a review or take a screenshot of such a review and then place it onto your own website or other websites.
Google Local listings with at least one review tend to rank higher than those without any reviews. And of course, the reviews that you get should also help to turn those visitors into customers.
Reviews from directories other than Google are a great help too and it will look more normal to Google and your potential customers if you have a variety of reviews on multiple websites.
Google guidelines on writing reviews
These are directly lifted from Google’s guidelines on reviews:
- Be informative and insightful: Be specific and relevant to the place you’re reviewing, and describe what other visitors are likely to experience. Highlight what makes the place special, and try to share something novel and new. From signature dishes to secret sale racks, reviews should reveal the unique experiences that places offer.
- Keep it real: Be authentic. Review your own experience, and explain why you liked or disliked the place. Try to be as accurate as possible, and include both the positive and negative aspects of your visit.
- Be respectful: Not every experience with a place is going to be perfect. Sometimes you’ll want to share negative feedback. Even if you’re frustrated, make sure your criticism is constructive. Business owners often use feedback to improve their offerings.
- Reviews not general commentary: At times certain locations may become the subject of larger public debate or conversation due to recent news coverage or current events. While we respect and value your opinion, Local Reviews are not meant for social or political commentary. We think there are other forums that are more suited to those kinds of conversations, like blogs or social networks. Please write about your first-hand experience of the place and not general commentary on the place in relation to recent news.
- Write with style: People will pay attention when you write thoughtful reviews. Keep them readable and avoid excessive capitalisation or punctuation. Use good grammar, check your spelling and avoid profanity. Choose the right length – a paragraph is great. Be creative and have fun!
Linking to the Google review popup
This is a nerdy bit but it works. Just add add ?review=1 to the end of a G+ Business page website address it will open the review box directly rather than having to click on the pencil icon.