SEO & Digital Marketing Roundup; News and Tips – September 2017

Posted by on September 15, 2017

Online Reviews: Now Central to Local Google Listings?

Online Reviews: Now Central to Local Google Listings?

Google reviews are nothing new; if you own a business then you know that anyone can log into Google at any time to provide feedback on your products and services, along with a one-to-five-star rating.

But if reviews are nothing new, they are experiencing something of an increase in prominence and importance. For evidence of this, look no further than to a recent report, which indicates Google has begun extracting snippets of reviews and including them within local search listings.

In other words: When your company appears in the local results, along with its website address, physical address, phone number, hours of operation, and star rating—none of which is anything new—there may also be a line or two of text from one of your reviews, a kind of snapshot of what consumers are saying about your brand. That is new, and potentially quite important.

To be clear, this new Google feature seems to just be in beta testing mode, and it’s unclear when or if it will become a standard part of the SERP. What it makes clear without question is that Google is serious about consumer reviews—and as such, your business should be, too.

Reviews and Your Brand

Reviews matter precisely because they are a reflection of your brand, and useful to consumers who are doing research before choosing a product or service. Look at it this way: Someone needs to hire a local plumbing company, and yours is the first brand that comes up on the SERP. Ah, but your total Google score is just 1.5 stars, whereas the plumbing company that’s next on the list—and located just a couple of blocks beyond you—has a 4.7. Which one do you think the consumer is likely to pick?

Simply put, reviews can make or break your online reputation—and if Google is making them more central to the SERP, well, that only broadens their visibility and increases their impact. It’s never been more important to be proactive in courting positive online reviews—but how?

Developing Positive Online Reviews for Your Brand

Developing Positive Online Reviews for Your Brand

The primary thing you can do to ensure positive reviews, of course, is simply provide an exemplary product and service. Give your customers every reason to log into Google and offer their positive feedback.

The bad news is that, generally, people who had a bad experience are much more likely to leave Google reviews—so you’ll need to really encourage your loyal, satisfied customers to step up to the plate. Here are some general ideas for doing so:

  • Go into your email list and find some of your best, most loyal customers—those who’ve given you repeat business over the years, and who you know to be happy. Personal friends/family members can be especially useful here. Send them an email and ask them, earnestly, to do you a solid and leave you a quick, five-star review.
  • Make sure that links to your Google profile are available readily, including on your company website; don’t make customers go fishing for the link. Another good place to include this link: In your email signature.
  • If you send digital receipts or invoices to clients, you might consider including a review link here, as well. Many online invoicing programs will allow you to do this.
  • As you talk to customers face-to-face, don’t hesitate to ask them for their feedback. You don’t have to be pushy—just be honest about how meaningful it is, and remind them that five-star ratings are really the ones you’re after.
  • If you receive negative reviews, seize the opportunity to provide customer service. Rather than getting angry or defensive, try to make things right. Sometimes, this can result in that bad review being amended and improved.
  • What not to do: Don’t try to bribe or to buy good reviews, which can backfire and become both an SEO and PR nightmare.

The bottom line: Your online reputation is one of the most precious branding assets you have. Google may soon make it more valuable than ever, so now is the time to start building it up.

Get Help from EverythingOnline

Improving or preserving an online reputation takes work, though, which is where EverythingOnline comes in. We have years of experience helping online brands shine, and we know exactly what it takes to generate strong, favorable online impressions. There’s no fuss, no fluff, no hassle—just results. Learn more about our unique approach by contacting EverythingOnline today.