Marketing 101: SEO Tips for Encouraging and Displaying Reviews
- March 8, 2017
- By: Vonigo
Marketing 101: there’s a very good chance that the first interaction a new customer has with you begins with a search on the web. After all, 86% of US citizens have access to the internet, mobile phones are ubiquitous, and internet usage continues to grow with no signs of slowing down.
For local service companies, winning at the search game is paramount, and there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of winning those clicks (and bookings!). One of the many is the use of reviews in your search listings, and this article will serve as a guide for collecting and displaying those reviews, to help you land more new business through search engines.
When a new customer is evaluating your business, reviews are one of the most helpful pieces of information they have access to. The objective opinions of past customers carry more weight than the marketing info on your website, and yet precious few service businesses take advantage of this — which represents an opportunity for your business if you do.
The keys to making this happen are to make it easy, keep it honest, and find ways to remind your customers how much you value their feedback.
Marketing 101: The SEO Benefits of Reviews
Customers get value from the info in the review, but so does your search listing and brand. Reviews help support your SEO in a couple of ways.
When you have reviews on your site, with the correct “Google-friendly” markup (read more below), you make it possible for Google to display your average ratings and review count right in your search results.
Not only is this more eye-catching, but it also builds trust instantly, and will help drive more clicks to your website.
The presence of good and plentiful reviews will also help your business appear in the precious “local pack” of listings, which come up before the main body listings. This little bump in exposure could mean a huge difference in your level of success, so you want to use every advantage you can.
Encouraging Reviews from Customers
It’s common for most online reviews to stem from some incentive on the part of the reviewer. Either they had a great experience and they want to tell the world; sometimes they have unique insights that they want to share or specific features. Or, they feel they have to warn others about a less-than-pleasant instance. Rather than wait for a review from one of these two extremes, your ideal is to ask all customers for a review, as a part of your process. However, there is a right way and wrong way to do it.
Here are some marketing 101 tip for how to ask for reviews. This will encourage customers to leave helpful, relevant reviews, willingly.
Ask For Them on Your Reviews Page
You are far more likely to get reviews if you make the reviewing form available on the page where people are looking for service or product information, including reviews of your service.
Below the area where you’ve displayed the reviews on your website, include a form where visitors can offer their own reviews:
Request a Review After the Purchase
For service jobs, often the best time to ask for a review is in an email, immediately following the service.
The timing of the email is particularly important. Send the email only after the service is completely finished. If it’s a service that requires a certain amount of time to show results, delay sending the email a bit further. You might want to give some time for the paint or the carpets to dry, or for the lawn fertilizer to work its magic, to time it just right for the best results.
Reviews Help Others
According to a study done by Bazaarvoice, 90% of review writers do so out of a desire to help fellow consumers make good buying decisions. Since we know this is the case, specify this in the way you ask for reviews. Reminding customers that their feedback will help future customers make buying decisions can help incentivize them to add a kind word (and star rating).
Ask on Social Media
Ask your social media followers what they think of your service, and post a link directly to your review page. If they are fans of your company, they are far more likely to see the post and write favorable reviews for you.
Contact People Who Leave Reviews — Good or Bad
A customer leaving a particularly enthusiastic online review represents an opportunity. Take the time to grow the relationship with that customer and to show some love back. Thanking them publicly for their feedback will help show that your company cares about the feedback you receive, and will, in turn, encourage others to leave a review.
The same is true of negative reviews. Some of them contain constructive feedback, and ignoring them can look conspicuous, whereas responding to them with genuine concern and an attempt to right the wrong can turn a negative into a positive; especially for future visitors to your reviews page.
You can also ask customers that leave reviews on other social platforms (eg. Yelp, Facebook) if they are willing to leave a review on your site, or if they mind being named in a quote on the site. This is an excellent time to send a message to the customer directly, personalizing it to their experience, and emphasizing the helpfulness their review can have to others.
How to Code/Display Them
To get the most value out of your reviews, they need to be readable, draw the eye, and be able to be found, preferably on both Google and on your site. To display your reviews right in your search engine results, you’ll want to use Schema markup. This is metadata that allows Google to display your reviews with ratings out of 5 stars, and the total number of reviews available.
Display them Creatively
Having your reviews correctly coded so the search engines pick them up is one thing, but dressing up the best ones to catch the eyes of your readers can work wonders too. The best of your reviews can be displayed along with graphic background and some visual design, and appear like the testimonials that they are.
Implementation for Service Businesses
All of the above can be a great deal of work to implement for a service business. There are services that help lighten the load of collecting and displaying reviews, like GetFiveStars. It’s a service that provides a platform to encourage reviews both on your site, and on third party sites like social media.
At a cost of $29.95 per month, the service also provides a website widget which is easy to install, and displays reviews (with the correct markup), so your ratings can potentially appear in the Google search results pages.
To increase your exposure, website visits, and chances of converting new customers, your business should be represented with profiles on a number of sites. As we mentioned above, having reviews on Google My Business (Maps) listings can also make it more likely that your business shows up at the top of the results pages in your area.
We recommend that you are on the following platforms:
- Google My Business / Maps
Reviews and star ratings have a major impact on influencing and converting future customers. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s the kind of effort that will pay dividends for years to come and gives you an advantage over your competition. Don’t have a web developer that can help with all of the necessary coding? Take a look at the third party tool like GetFiveStars, and set about creating profiles on the other sites mentioned above that host reviews.
Your customers will thank you (sometimes with a review!) and your future profits will make it all worthwhile.
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