As mentioned in our article about how we improve our clients visibility on the SERPs, there are many tactics we can employ to put potential customers at ease about a business – before and after they click through to their website.
This discipline is sometimes referred to as demonstrating social proof.
There are many ways to do this. We’ll outline just a few of them next.
Reviews left on a businesses Google page, are displayed quite prominently on the Knowledge Panel for brand searches, as below. These can seriously improve or damage a businesses reputation.
There are many tactics for earning reviews and getting them placed both on Google and elsewhere. But it’s not just about getting the reviews, it’s about what to do with them once you’ve got them.
Adopting a strategy to generate reviews is time consuming, so firstly…
Is it worth it?
The Local Search Ranking Factors Study 2018 identified review signals as being the third most important factor when it comes to determining what influences the likelihood of a business ranking in a Local Pack.
Earning reviews on your Google My Business profile not only improves the chances of a business being placed on the Local Pack, if a business has more reviews, and a better average rating than the other businesses listed, we’d argue they’ll earn more clicks.
What’s more, it’s far better to have customers tell other potential customers how great a business is, rather than telling them yourself. They can do this by leaving a review.
Where should we ask for reviews?
This depends where your potential customers spend time online.
Since the majority of customers spend time on Google, and broadly speaking we’re looking to help improve performance on this search engine, we suggest businesses start there.
It’s important to offer your customers the opportunity to leave a review in more than one place.
Facebook is an obvious alternative. There are many aggregate review sites like TrustPilot. There will be others that might be specific to your industry, for example CheckATrade for tradesmen, Houzz for interior designers and TripAdvisor for businesses in the travel industry. If you don’t have a profile on an industry specific reviews site, we might suggest you get one.
How can we get the reviews we want?
We recommend businesses ask their clients or customers soon after delivering the service or fulfilling the order. And then to ask again if they don’t respond.
The rules will differ regarding incentivising your customers to leave a review, so check the terms on each platform. On Google it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a review. We’d even recommend business owners ask their clients to use the name of their business in their review – and perhaps even to name the service or product delivered.
Making it easy for them is crucial. Show them reviews people have left previously. Provide a direct link for them. If your business has a regular Google My Business listing Grade Us have a great free tool to help you do this. If they are a service area business then you could use Google Map’s and PlePer’s tool.
We also believe you should consider asking clients to leave a review on your own website. There are three reasons for this.
First, it might be you don’t own the reviews on the third-party sites, so you might not be able to use them on your site. Second, if you earn reviews on your own site, you could potentially mark up the pages so as to ensure rich snippets are returned on the SERPs. And third, if the reviews are provided on your site, you have the most control over how they are displayed.
We’ve got some reviews, what should we do with them?
First you should acknowledge the reviews by responding to them.
Then you want to look to promote them via your website and your promotional channels, be they email, social media or something else.
Presence of positive reviews on a website can encourage visitors to convert to your goals.
There are many ways to embed reviews onto a website and we’ll suggest the best solution for your budget and options available to you. As well as embedding the reviews, you can add buttons encouraging visitors to leave a review and also display your average rating on every page of your site, as below.
One final thing to consider is asking your clients to speak about the service or product. Video testimonials are arguably even more powerful than the written word.
You may be surprised to hear it, but Google isn’t the only place your potential customers visit to get information. There are the other search engines of course – Bing being the most popular behind Google in the UK – and many directory sites that could potentially list your businesses name, address and phone number. Any listings such as these, are called citations. Building local citations is a key part of our implementations.
Referring back to the example earlier, The Kitchen People had citations on two sites which were returned on the first page for their brand search, as below.
So clearly citations are an important thing to consider when it comes to online reputation and brand management.
We help businesses review their existing citations, identify new opportunities, monitor the listings, and advise them when there’s something they need to respond to.
Local link building
Once again let’s go back to the brand search performed earlier (above!).
You’ll notice there’s a link to an article written by Lindfield Life between the two citation snippets.
When you click through you’ll see it’s not the most exciting piece of content, but it does highlight the longevity of the business, which itself reinforces their expertise, authority and trust (EAT). It also provides a link to their website, from a local, authoritative source, and is therefore of value.
Links were identified as the second most influential factor – for the Local Pack – in the aforementioned Local Search Ranking Factors study. Links in editorials such as this, are widely believed to be more powerful, in terms of improving your rankings generally – i.e. not just for brand searches, but for category searches too – than citations mentioned above.
So we believe its crucial to develop a local link building strategy. This is particularly true for businesses with service-area listings – i.e. businesses that provide their services at the clients location, rather than their own – because local links help increase their prominence.
There are many ways to earn links, which we’ll briefly touch on next.
Sponsoring local events need not be expensive and can really help raise a profile. Holding an event is another opportunity. Entering a business into a local awards is a good option, as is being part of a business association.
Create content about your business
If you’re not keeping your blog or portfolio up-to-date, visitors could assume you’re not busy and this could have a particularly adverse effect on your EAT.
Keeping a blog or updating your website with new case studies, provides the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.
Creating content keeps your social media channels busy too.
As with a blog, there’s little sense having a presence on a social media platform, if you can’t devote the time to use it.
We advise our clients to choose their platform carefully – basing the decision on the profile of their target customers and the amount of time they can dedicate to manage it.
Building connections and having conversations with customers on social media can do wonders for a companies reputation. It provides a great channel for spreading good news stories.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also be useful places to listen to what customers say about your business and can provide new business opportunities by connecting to groups where there are often people looking for recommendations.
Awards and accreditations
We mentioned earlier that putting your business, employees or products/services up for awards, can be a fantastic way to generate local links. Winning awards, or even making a shortlist, is something we suggest businesses promote on their websites, to improve their EAT.
In addition, membership of industry specific association should be clearly displayed, as should any relevant accreditations the business or its personnel may have earned.