Reviews for Local SE

How to Get Reviews for Local SEO: A Checklist

It's important to read online reviews. They make it easier for users to trust your brand, show that your brand is who it says it is, and can even help with SEO.

Most SEO articles about reviews talk about how they affect rankings, but that's not the only reason reviews are important for local SEO.

A good review profile has many benefits, such as more leads, social proof, chances to help customers, and more customer loyalty and engagement, to name a few.

What's the point?

People quickly hear about both good and bad names. Even though you don't want to have a bad name, you also don't want your brand to get lost in the crowd.

Reviews are a free way to build brand awareness, a reputation for being responsive and providing great customer service, SEO benefits, positive exposure, and the ability to sway a potential client's decision to buy from you.

Even bad reviews can be good because they show potential clients how you respond to or deal with frustrations. All honest clients know that things can and do go wrong sometimes, and negative reviews give you free feedback on how you can improve your business.

Use negative reviews to improve what you offer and how your customers feel about it. This will show up in your overall review profile and how happy your clients are. You should change the coffee in your lobby if every customer hates it.

Getting reviews for a local business

The question is, how do you get reviews?

When it comes to reviews for local businesses, one of the common questions we get from clients is how to get their customers to leave reviews without bothering them or risking negative public feedback.

Here are a few of the best ways to get reviews for local search engine optimization.

The Ask

It looks easy, right? Ask, and you will get it. But

The "Person You Already Know" Ask

Some good places to find online reviews are:

  • Clients.
  • Customers.
  • Colleagues.
  • Business partners.
  • Personal contacts (depending on the platform).

This is a great way to get reviews because if you ask someone you know and trust, you probably already have a good relationship with them, and they are more likely to give you a good review.

Google doesn't let reviews from people who aren't customers, but Facebook doesn't just let reviews from paying customers and clients. Partners in the business world, your neighbor, and even your mailman are all welcome to leave a review.

Please don't ask them to lie, though, because being honest is important here. If the reviewer isn't a client or customer, ask them to talk about your honesty, professionalism, personality, or character instead of a brand-specific experience.

The "Verbal" Ask

Like with someone you already know, the verbal ask lets you decide if someone deserves a good review.

You can mention a customer in passing or pick up the phone and call them. If you're going to call them, it's best to start the conversation by thanking them for their business and asking for their feedback to show that you care about how they feel about your brand before you ask them to do you a favor.

The "Digital" Ask

With the digital ask, you can choose who you want to review your work. The digital ask can be sent via email, text, or even directly on your social channels.

Only some people you ask will be willing to tell you about their experience. But this is a great way to pick up some easy-to-get good things.

The "Passive" Ask

Your front desk, flyers, and other printed materials are all great places to put QR codes that link directly to your reviews.

Add some social proof, like a picture of one of your great reviews, a star rating, or a sentence or two about why you want them to scan the code to get them to take part.

Review Request Tips

  • Make sure to include a personal contact for a real person in your messages. This gives you a chance to talk to a customer who isn't happy and try to make things better before they share a bad review online.
  • Please keep it simple! People don't need more time to read a five-paragraph essay about why you want them to review you. Don't save their time and get right to the point.
  • If they don't review you after a few weeks, it's fine to follow up, but be careful not to be annoying. You don't want someone who is mad at you to write a review of your business.
  • It's great if you can add personal details without making it too obvious. Be careful not to share information that could be embarrassing or too personal. ("I'm so happy we got rid of the bed bugs in your hotel!" won't help you)

Review Management Tools

Many tools for managing reviews can help you ask for, collect, and respond to online reviews.

If you use a third-party tool to ask for or respond to reviews, ensure they don't use questionable ways to show or manage review content.

The FTC has recently criticized review management platforms for "avoiding the collection or publication of bad reviews," which is against FTC rules.

Strategies to Ensure a Positive Review Profile

  • Always respond to reviews, whether they are good or bad: Showing your current and potential customers, business partners, and community members that you're listening and care about what they have to say can go deep toward building a positive review profile and brand reputation.
  • Know who you're selling to: This helps you build a good relationship with your customers and makes it easy for you to spot fake reviews from unhappy employees or the competition. Knowing your customers also helps you develop ideas, promotions, and deals that will appeal to them.
  • Make it easy, and if you need to, give instructions: If most of your customers don't need to learn more about technology or might have trouble leaving an online review, help them. Make instructions that are easy to follow and walk them through the process. This can be done digitally or on paper. Extra points for pictures, links, and QR codes that can be read.
  • Don't bribe or force people to leave positive reviews. Instead, ask them to tell you what they really think. Encourage them to be ethical in their reviews so you can find out both what you do best and what you could improve on.
  • Ensure your request is personalized. Before you ask for a review, make sure the customer knows you know who they are and care about their experience with your brand, whether you're asking via email or in person. Asking how their child's game went or if their partner likes their new job can go a long way toward making a good relationship last.

What NOT to Do When Looking for Local SEO Reviews

  • Don't take your time with just one: Meet your audience where they are because if they use Yelp a lot to write reviews, it's likely that other customers are looking for information about your brand there. You don't want to give people only a few choices and make them unable to decide, but give them two or three review sites to choose from.
  • Please don't pay for reviews or try to get them: Ever. Never, ever, ever.
  • Don't ask real customers to write fake reviews: This is a bad way to run a business and will bite you in the end.
  • Don't give your competitors fake reviews: As with asking for fake positive reviews, leaving fake negative reviews that aren't true or accurate won't help you. Just don't do it.
  • Pay attention to what people tell you: Look at negative reviews as a chance to improve your product, service, or customer experience. Take the feedback and use it to improve, or you'll keep making the same mistakes.
  • Don't use the autoresponder on Facebook to ask for reviews: People will know and won't trust you anymore.
  • Don't get rid of bad reviews. Instead, use them to show current and potential customers that you've listened to their feedback and improved your business.

The bottom line about local business reviews on the Internet

Why are reviews so important?

People quickly hear about both good and bad names. You don't want to be known for having a bad name, but you also don't want to be forgotten.

Reviews are a free way to build brand awareness, a reputation for being responsive and providing great customer service, positive exposure, search engine optimization (SEO) benefits, and, of course, to influence a potential client's decision to buy.

Even bad reviews can lead to chances. It shows potential clients how you deal with frustrations or how you respond to them. All reasonable clients know that things can and do go wrong sometimes, and they give you free feedback on how you can improve your business.

Use negative reviews to improve what you offer and how your customers feel about it. This will show up in your overall review profile and how happy your clients are. You should change the coffee in your lobby if every customer hates it.

Remember that online reviews can help you get more leads, improve your SEO, show you what your customers really want and expect from your business, tell you where your business could be better, and help you get more sales.

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