Local Search Accelerator Part 2 – Online Reviews

Remember hearing stories of a business that was left out of the phone book? Or, it was published with the wrong phone number? Basically, invisible for a whole year.

They often went out of business or had to pay big money to get the phone number that appeared in the book.

Getting a ‘nice-looking’ website online is seen by many businesses as todays equivalent of being ‘in the phone book.’ You’re out there to be found by the people that are either looking for you or that need what you have or do. Right?

If the person looking for you knows the domain of your website, then, yes it can be the equivalent. If not, and you’ve had the site online for any amount of time, it may be starting to feel more like you’ve been left out.

Maybe you’ve already spent some money with one of those people that keeps calling about that unclaimed listing on the first page of Google. My sympathies if that’s the case. Read on, here’s three things, in plain English with no acronyms, that will make sure you’re ‘in the phone book’ and then some.

Part 1: Name, Address and Phone Number
Part 2: The Best Source of Referrals
Part 3: Google My Business – The New Phone Book

What others say about you takes referrals to another level.

When you need some work done on your car or house, have a health issue, etc. you probably ask a friend or neighbor if they know anyone they like and trust that does the thing you need done. Even if they give you a phone number or email address, if you’re like most people, you find the company on the internet.

It’s not that you don’t trust the person referring – you just want to know what others are saying about the person or company. Reviews can either confirm or refute a direct referral. Or, they can be the standalone acid test of whether you choose a company or not. A recent study found that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a referral from a friend.

I recently needed to have a bathtub refinished. Did some research and narrowed it down to a few companies. The one with the fastest response to my call, and the lowest price, had dozens of testimonials on their site, but only two reviews. I wound up paying over 20% more to a company with 80 reviews and an average 4.8-star rating. The combination of a high rating and a lot of reviews made this an easy choice.

The names have been blurred to protect the innocent. Given the choice, I’ll go with the chiropractor who has kept a 4.9-star average across 60 reviews over the 2 who had their family write them a review.

Look at the businesses that you directly compete with. How many reviews do they have on Google? Facebook? Yelp? How many do you have? Focus on Google first, for a few reasons. They are primarily responsible for how you ‘show up’ online. Having sufficient reviews on Google (the exact number seems to change) will help make your star rating and review count show up in search results.

Hopefully, you have some testimonials on your site. Clients saying nice things about how you deliver what you promise, even over-deliver. I only get concerned about testimonials when I come across a business with a bunch of them, but very few reviews.

I love testimonials, but they have 2 problems. The first is that people only see them once they get to your site. The number of reviews and aggregate ratings are visible during search. This gives you an edge earlier in the search process over competitors with no or few visible reviews.

The second is that prospects see testimonials as content that you have influence over. You can pick and choose what’s seen, possibly even help people write or edit them. Bottom line is that you should have some testimonials but do everything you can to drive reviews. Testimonials do not replace reviews; they complement them, but only after someone has decided to spend some time on your website.

Here’s a few suggestions on driving and leveraging testimonials:

  • You should have a page on your site that pulls in all your 4 and 5-star testimonials. The aggregate review score you display still must include all reviews of any level, but you do not have to present all of them.
  • You should have a process that encourages unhappy people to let you know directly before posting on public reviews. We use a ‘funnel’ that asks whether the client is satisfied or not. If they give you a good score, we then direct them to a public site to post a review. If not, we ask for details and contact info so you can try to make it right before they post elsewhere.
  • Your process should be able to point customers to different review sites so you have critical mass across the most important sites. This insulates you from too much impact from one bad review.

A simple review funnel page like this on your website can help make it easier to ask for reviews from your customers.

If you’d like a free Review Scan, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. It will scan the major review sites on the internet and provide a detailed report. Click here and you’ll have the Scan back very shortly.

We have a system that we have helped many businesses install to collect more reviews, more consistently, and filter out the bad reviews when possible.  If you’d like to talk to us about installing that system on your website, give us a shout.