Combat Negative Reviews and Improve Search Listings
I recently had a neighbor, who is in the process of starting her own bakery, gift me with a plate of yummy Christmas cookies. First of all, what a great neighbor! I texted her to tell her how great her cookies were and she did the perfect thing: she asked me to review her on Facebook. One piece of advice I always give my customers is: ask your customers to review you online. Whenever a customer expresses to you that they are happy with your products or services, that’s a great time to ask for a review!
So, you may be wondering, why should I go to the time and effort to ask for reviews? What good will it do my business? Well, there are at least 4 reasons why asking for reviews on a regular basis can really help your business grow.
1 Ratings from Reviews Show Up on Google
Some people don’t realize this, but reviews actually do show up on Google in the form of ratings. For example, when I do a search for one of my customers, Inspired Dental, the box pictured here shows up on the right-hand side in the Google search results. Not only do I see their reviews on Google My Business, but I also see their rating on Facebook. The Google rating shows at the top and is in a gold color, so it really stands out. But the Facebook rating also shows up under the “Reviews from the web” section (toward the bottom of the image).
In addition, their Facebook and Yelp pages also show up in search results. And those shows their ratings there as well. See the image below.
2 Ratings Can Improve Search Positioning
Many customers with physical store locations want to show up high on the map in a Google search. This is very smart, as people use Google Maps frequently to find a business location close to them. Well, one way to improve your position on Google Maps is to get a better rating from reviews!
Yelp also uses ratings, at least in part, to determine position on a search. So, if someone searches for your type of business on Yelp, they are more likely to see your business if you have more positive reviews.
Facebook uses ratings, in part, to determine how likely posts from your Page are to appear in the newsfeed. Star ratings are part of what determines a business page’s “EdgeRank”. According to Social Media Examiner, “EdgeRank is calculated with “affinity,” “weight” and “time decay.” Affinity measures the interaction between a Facebook user and a brand, while weight is the importance of that action. Star ratings factor into both. Put simply: overall organic reach and brand visibility are directly impacted by EdgeRank, which is influenced in part by star ratings.”
3 Customers Are More Likely to Choose You
In a sea of competition, a great rating on a variety of social media sites can really help your business stand out – and get the clicks! Think about the last time you searched for a place to eat online. I bet you picked the place closest to you with the best rating. Justified or not, we all assume that if you have a 2 or 3 star rating, you probably aren’t very good. “Social proof”, as it is called, helps shows people who don’t know feel more comfortable doing business with you.
4 Positive Reviews Help Push Down Negative Reviews
Any business is likely to eventually encounter a negative review. Many times, this might be from an impossible-to-please customer or someone with a personal grudge. And often times, there’s not really a way for a business to have such a review removed. However, one way to deal with it is to bury it under an avalanche of positive reviews. There are 2 reasons to do this.
- With only a small percentage of negative reviews, your prospects are less likely to assume the negative review has any credibility. If you have one glowing review and one negative one, a prospect doesn’t know which to believe. But if you have ten glowing reviews and one negative one, they are more likely to assume the negative one was unfairly given.
- With more positive reviews, a negative review will affect your total star rating less. If you have one 5 star and one 1 star review, your total rating will be 2.5-3 stars (depending on how the particular service calculates it). Not great. But if you have ten 5 star and one 1 star review, your rating will be closer to 5 stars (probably about 4.5). Much better!
How to Ask for Reviews
The very most effective way I’ve seen over and over again is to verbally ask. A great time to do this is when your customer is already happy with your service! Get in the habit of asking every customer to review you after you finish a transaction. Not every one will, but you should still see your number of reviews – and star rating – improve steadily over time. Yelp is probably the most difficult service to get reviews for that actually show up on your page, so I recommend the following steps:
- Ask your customers if they use Yelp. Yelp is far more likely to approve recommendations from people who regularly use Yelp and write reviews.
- If they say no, ask them to review you on either Google or Facebook (or another service appropriate for your business, like Houzz). Maybe alternate months – one month ask for Google and the next for Facebook.
- If they say yes, ask them to review you on Yelp. But be aware that if you have too many reviews in a short period of time, Yelp may not show any of them. So if you’ve seen a lot of people lately who use Yelp, maybe ask for a review somewhere else.
You can also ask for reviews in bulk email campaigns. I wouldn’t recommend this for Yelp, but it can work well for Facebook for Google. One advantage is that you can provide a link to your social media profiles in the email, making it easier for people to review you. I’ve seen some success with customers doing drawings for a Kindle where they get an entry for each time they like a social media page and 2 entries for each review. I’ve also had customers offer a small gift, like a coffee mug, to anyone who does a review.
Another great email method can be to ask for a review in a personal email after you finish work for a customer. If you have a process in place for how to finish up a customer’s job, you can add this to the process. Create the email and save it as a template to make it easy send the request every time.