Local SEO: Are Reviews The New Link Alternative?

Local SEO is now a game of survival of the fittest as more and more companies try to outshine each other to remain on the first page.

For instance, a simple search for best roofers in my town got myriads of local service providers flooding my results page. Similar to most clients, I’m sticking to the first page of results. In fact, I’ll only be looking at the first three service providers, reviews, and ratings. This is why businesses should continuously make adjustments to their SEO priorities, so they can be as compatible as possible with what the consumers want.

Findings from a recent study show that one of the top factors that lead to better rankings are customer reviews. Yep, you just heard me right. It’s what the clients are saying and not the quality of your profile or website.  Yes, I know that’s sad after all time you spent pimping your site.  The findings go on to say that most of the high ranking local business websites had one thing in common; they had low quality looking and/or functioning sites.

Nevertheless, just because these findings show that doesn’t mean you should neglect your site. As much as these low-quality sites seem to have taken over the review battle, they will never be entirely at the top. In other words, a well-optimized site and strong links are still needed to make you the king of organic and paid searches. Furthermore, most local searches are conducted using a phone which means that most internet users will opt for a well optimized and good-looking site.

How Quality and Quantity are Part of the Game

Success in marketing never comes easy.  If it did, things would be quite simple: the more the reviews you have, the higher your placement on the results page.

Unfortunately, that is not how it plays out. A client is more likely to opt for a local service provider with more than fifty-three stars reviews over one who has a single five-star review. What I’m trying to say here is the number of reviews you get plays an extremely important role in the customer’s final decision.

Furthermore, just as quantity matters, the quality of your reviews is also vital.  Because Google tends to consider the relevance, it is important for you to urge clients to leave more detailed feedback.

Here are Some Do’s and Don’ts to Help You Achieve That

Don’ts

  • First of all, never reward your consumers just for leaving you a couple of positive reviews. Because just like when your grades suddenly shot up in school, a sudden increase in your reviews will cause Google to suspect something fishy, and you might even find your website suspended.
  • Never pay for fake reviews. You want your online reputation, even among customers, to remain clean.
  • Avoid publishing your own review. Chances are you might even think of creating a fake profile for the purpose of leaving reviews on your site, but don’t. This is SEO fraud. 

Do’s

  • Offer a smooth sailing experience for each of your clients.  The rest will sort itself out as clients will automatically find themselves leaving positive feedback.
  • Up your presence on prominent review sites like Yelp, Angie’s list, etc.  Get on Google My Business.  If you are not present, the clients will have nowhere to leave positive feedback.
  • Encourage your clientele to leave feedback. In fact, most happy customers are more than willing to do so when asked, especially if you went the extra mile to provide a top shelf experience.
  • Besides great service, ensure that the process is easy by clearing the hurdles that cause clients to shy away from leaving feedback. Offer links to landing pages or other sites on which they can easily leave their feedback or confirmation emails.
  • Run a campaign that reminds clients that they can leave a review.  As mentioned earlier, happy clients are willing to leave feedback but usually end up forgetting. Creating a campaign that reminds them often works in this case.

So How Do You Run Such a Campaign?

Running a successful campaign is not a matter of being an IT guru, but rather a matter of great timing and simplicity. You cannot wait till three days later after the purchase to ask for reviews. Instead, you should do so immediately because the experience they enjoyed is still fresh and hence they will be able to provide more useful feedback.

To achieve great results, you can set up an email campaign which automatically sends an email to the client.  It will prompt them to review their experience on a scale of 1 to 10. If they rate you 8-10, then automatically link them to a review site.  If they rate you 7 and below, prompt a follow-up questionnaire.  This allows them a means to tell you how to improve and avoid making a similar mistake with other clients. Using such a campaign is an effective strategy to intercept an unhappy customer from taking to the internet to rant and criticize your company.  This heads off potential problems and helps maintain a good reputation for your company.

Because getting customers to go to review sites is not easy, you can offer better treatment to those who do or flag them as ambassadors to encourage others to do so too.

Handle the Haters

Bad reviews are inescapable. In fact, even major businesses still get them so don’t beat yourself up because two or three clients left negative insight. The good news is that they might act as an advantage because you will learn where to improve on. In addition, they can be fixed. Seek review management resources, such as bird eye.  It will track and keep you notified whenever a client leaves negative feedback.  Take your time and think of a thoughtful response.  How you handle the situation can turn the tables to your favor.

Once you get the client to listen, show them just how much you care. Ask for a second chance to offer them what they deserve.

Now That You Have a Top Notch Local SEO Strategy, Don’t Sit Back and Wait

Good SEO will not offer the products and services, but your sales team will. So, it’s time to get your sales team on point with a good strategy.  Most clients expect nothing but the best from their local service provider. They assume you know and understand them better, that you can satisfy their needs.  With this in mind, up your sales teams’ game so you can meet and surpass your customers’ expectations.

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About the Author

Though his chief ambition is to one day control the entire Internet, Jim busies himself in the meantime running our little web development and marketing agency. He's a certified super nerd who ranks coding in old, outdated languages and watching Star Trek reruns just a bit too high on his list of fun things to do.Outside of work, Jim enjoys Hockey (Tampa Bay Lighning, to be specific), more genres of music than most people realize exist, riding his Harley (he calls it "two wheel therapy") and exploring the world through travel.