What can you do to improve your business's reviews without violating the strict terms and conditions of third-party review sites? These five tips will help you boost your online visibility and reputation.
The popularity and accessibility of the internet has made it so businesses live or die based on their reputation, and their reputation depends heavily on the frequency and quality of online reviews. One bad review from an irate customer could hinder a new restaurant's chances of success, or conversely, consistently positive reviews could be all it takes to help a hair salon thrive in its community.
So what can you do to improve your business's reviews without violating the strict terms and conditions of third-party review sites along the way?
How online reviews improve business
First, you need to understand the many ways that online reviews affect your business:
- Reputation. In some industries, there's a standardized score of quality that can help you understand the business's capabilities and reputation, or provide an overall outline of the business's performance, like the MIPS quality score in healthcare. Most consumers look to the opinions of other consumers when judging the reputation of an organization. If other customers have left good reviews, they'll leave with a good impression, and vice versa.
- Search rankings. Google now takes the quantity and quality of your business's reviews into consideration when determining your rankings in local searches. The more positive reviews you get, the more likely it is that you'll rank in the local "three pack," or top three results in a local search.
- Third-party app visibility. Having good reviews in a third-party app also increases your visibility within the third-party app itself. Many customers browse these apps to find new places in their area to patronize, so it's a good outlet to win new business.
- Feedback and improvement opportunities. Don't forget that your customers will also leave details about their personal experiences, which you can use to improve the business further, increasing customer loyalty and your brand reputation even further.
Key strategies for improving reviews
Though controversial, most third-party apps have strict rules about what you can do to generate more or better reviews. Yelp, for example, prohibits business owners from buying or asking for reviews directly. So how can you get more reviews, and ensure those reviews are positive, without directly asking for them?
- Do good business. This first step should be an obvious one, but it's the most important, and, therefore, worth mentioning: You have to do good business. If you want people to have such a good experience that they gush about it online, you have to make a strong impression. Treat your customers fairly. Go out of your way to make their day. If you provide exceptional service, consistently, your customers will naturally want to leave their own reviews.
- Listen to (and incorporate) customer feedback. Once you start getting reviews for your business, stay tuned in to them. If someone has something positive to say, listen, and see if you can emphasize their favorite parts of your business. If someone has a complaint, take it seriously, and see if there's something you can do to either make things right or improve the business so it doesn't happen again.
- Boost awareness of your presence on third-party sites. You can't ask for reviews directly, but you can show your customers that your business is listed in third-party apps. Merely including the logos of these third-party apps in your storefront, or in your marketing materials, can subtly prompt users to find you there and leave a review.
- Ask customers for in-person reviews. You can't ask for online reviews, but you can ask your customers in person what they think about the business (or collect reviews in other formats). Listen to the feedback these customers leave and address it proactively. Think of it as a dry run, giving you a chance to preview reviews before customers leave them formally on online platforms.
- Engage with customers online in other ways. Finally, try to boost your reputation and make yourself known to customers online in other ways. For example, you can build an audience on social media, increase your search rankings through SEO and increase customer loyalty with content marketing. These actions will help you collect more loyal, passionate followers, who will naturally be more inclined to leave a positive review of their experiences with you.
These five strategies can help you get more and better reviews, which, in turn, can help your business grow in terms of audience and quality. Review management is one of the best strategies in your arsenal for supporting – and improving – your local business.