Local SEO and How to Leverage Online Reviews

Local SEO and How to Leverage Online Reviews

Last Updated on 11 October 2020 by Lukasz Zelezny

The internet has become an essential research tool used by consumers. In the past, consumers relied on word of mouth and recommendations to determine the businesses from which they should purchase. Thanks to the online review websites, though, they can now access critiques from past customers. As a local business owner, you can tap into the power of online reviews to attract new customers and generate more sales.

How to Leverage Online Reviews to Attract Customers and Grow Your Local Business

Influence purchasing decisions

Ninety-three percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews, according to a study conducted by Podium. Reviews provide consumers with an honest, unbiased perspective of a business and its products or services so that they make a well-informed purchasing decision.

Businesses often highlight or exaggerate the positive aspects of their product or service while concealing the negative aspects of their marketing material. Unfortunately, this means consumers can’t always believe everything they hear or read. A business may claim to have the best product on the market when it has an inferior product that’s not worth buying. Online reviews, however, are created from actual customers and not the business, so they offer a more accurate representation of their products or services.

Create an account on top review websites

To use online reviews to grow your business, you’ll need to create an account on the top review websites: Facebook, Google, and Yelp. If your business doesn’t have a presence on these websites, your customers can’t easily leave an online review. In some cases, a review website may already have your company listed, and some sites allow anyone to add a new firm for other users to review. However, only the owner of the business listed can respond to reviews under the company’s name.

For Facebook, create a page under your business’s name by visiting Facebook.com/Pages/Creation and choose the “Local Business” category as well as the most relevant subcategory. Next, click “Settings” in the upper-right corner of your Page, followed “Templates and Tabs.” Scroll down to the bottom and click “Add a Tab.” You can then add the “Reviews” to your Facebook Page. Once enabled, customers can rate your business from one to five stars. Facebook reviews can consist strictly of a star rating, or they can include the customer’s comment in addition to a star rating.

For Google, visit Business.Google.com and click “Manage Now.” After logging in to your Google account, click “Add location” and enter the name of your business. You’ll then need to enter its street address along with some other basic information, after which Google will create a new listing for your business. It’s important that you verify your Google listing. Otherwise, customers won’t be able to leave a review on it. To verify your listing, visit Business.Google.com while logged in to your Google account, click “Verify Now” and follow the instructions.

For Yelp, visit Biz.Yelp.com/Support/Claiming and click “Claim your Business.” Next, enter your business’s name and address, followed by “Get Started.” Yelp will then search through its database to see if your business is already listed. If someone has already added your business to Yelp, it should appear in the search results, in which case you can click “Claim This Business” and proceed with the instructions. If not, then click “Add here” and complete the requested information.

Assuming you followed these steps, customers can now leave a review of your business on Facebook, Google, and Yelp.

Follow the rules!

All major review online review websites, including Facebook, Google, and Yelp, have rules that local business owners must follow. And if you don’t comply with them, the sites may take down your listing and remove all your customers’ reviews. Yelp has the strictest rules regarding online reviews. For example, Yelp prohibits business owners from soliciting customers for online reviews. You can’t reward customers for leaving a review of your business on Yelp, nor can you ask them to leave one on the website.

Google and Facebook aren’t as strict regarding online reviews. As a local business owner, you can ask customers to leave a review of your business on Facebook or Google. You cannot, however, offer a reward or incentive for doing so.

While Yelp doesn’t allow you to solicit customers for reviews, you can still ask them to visit your business’s Yelp page. That will allow you to attract online reviews without violating Yelp’s guidelines. Because it’s one of the top review websites for local businesses, many customers will automatically leave a review of your business after finding it on Yelp.

Improve customer service

You’ll garner more positive online reviews by improving your local business’s customer service. Customers are more likely to visit Facebook, Google, and Yelp to review your business if they had a positive experience. Poor customer service can also attract online comments, but not the good kind. An unpleasant experience may lead to a negative review.

Here are some tips to improve your business’s customer service and attract more positive online reviews:

  • Train workers to communicate with customers in a friendly, personal manner.
  • Answer the phone and respond to customer inquiries as quickly as possible.
  • Go beyond your customers’ expectations by providing them with something of value that they didn’t expect.
  • Research your business’s target audience to better understand their needs.
  • Keep your business’s store or workplace clean and tidy.
  • Take the initiative to ask customers how you can improve their experience.

Monitor and respond to reviews

With your business listed on the top three online review websites, you’ll need to monitor your listings here so that you can respond to customers’ reviews. When a customer comments on your business, take a few minutes to reply. If the review is positive, then thank them for sharing their experience and encourage them to come back. If the judgment is negative, apologize for the experience they ask them to call you directly so that you can address the problem. Proactively responding to negative reviews can often turn them into positive ones.

Online reviews show prospective customers the true quality of your products or services. That is why more than 9 out of 10 consumers trust them as much as recommendations from a friend. To attract more customers and grow your local business with online reviews, follow these tips listed here.