Before buying a product or service, people search online reviews for information, suggestions, and warnings from fellow consumers. Why? People trust information that comes from reviews. Study after study shows that reviews significantly influence consumer purchase behavior.
As a business owner, you know this. What you might not know is that customer reviews also impact your local SEO rankings. Read on to learn how to manage your reviews to boost your SEO.
What is the Google Map Pack and Why Does It Matter?
When you search Google for products or services near your location, the results page will provide a list of local businesses with the top three Google Maps-based results highlighted in a box at the top of the page. These top three results are called the “Map Pack,” or “Google 3 Pack Rating.”
The select three entries in this box show the name and contact information for each business. In addition, each listing shows the total number of Google reviews for each business as well as its average star rating. Without a doubt, the Map Pack is the place to be. But, how do you get there?
How Google Considers Customer Reviews
Since Google is always striving to provide the most helpful information for any given search, it recognizes customer reviews as a powerful source in providing valuable information to consumers.
As a result, Google rewards businesses that attract consistent, positive reviews with higher rankings in online local searches. While positive Google reviews are not the only way to boost your local SEO, they are an important part.
Ask clients to leave a review, and make it easy to do so. First, explain to your clients that reviews help you to provide the best services possible.
Then, make it simple for them to offer feedback. Create a link directly to your review, and place that link in areas viewed by your clients and their families, like in a newsletter or email.
Train caregivers to politely ask for reviews, especially when they have a good rapport with a client or family. While you do want to encourage reviews, don’t badger people for them or offer an incentive for a review, which can turn a polite request into a sales pitch.
Engage with Your Audience and Respond to All Reviews
Google rewards businesses that receive consistent, positive reviews. However, its algorithms also measure how much, and in what way, businesses answer their reviewers.
Actively engaging with your online community shows Google that you are an authentic business that values your customers and their feedback.
General Rules to Remember Before Responding
First, remember that your responses will be available for public viewing, so keep your tone polite and professional, whether the review is positive or negative.
Second, keep messages short and sweet. While you don’t need to respond to every single review, you should monitor reviews and answer frequently as needed. Personalize your responses when possible by offering specific feedback within the context of the message, and always address the customer by name (and be sure to spell it right).
How to Respond to the Positive Reviews
There’s no doubt that good press is good for business. Don’t take those positive reviews for granted.
Let people know that you appreciate their response, and work to turn them into repeat customers. Always thank people for taking the time to leave a review, and be authentic and sincere in your response.
How to Address the Negative Reviews
Negative reviews can sting, but it’s important not to retaliate. One bad review won’t sink your business. But, other consumers will be looking to see how you react, so view negative reviews as an opportunity to improve your service.
If the review mentioned a specific issue or incident, take a minute to investigate the situation. Apologize if appropriate, and keep your response short. If you feel the situation can be remedied, offer the reviewer the chance to speak with a manager offline.
Don’t Write Your Own Reviews
While it might be tempting to write your own reviews, don’t do it. And, don’t pay anyone to write a review for you, either.
First, it’s unethical. It can also be illegal--false reviews often violate the terms of service of the review platform. Besides, consumers trust reviews only if they believe them to be authentic, and savvy consumers can often spot a fake review from a mile away.
Finally, Google can punish businesses for false reviews. If they determine a review is fake or has been internally manufactured, it can be flagged or reported as spam.
Either action could result in dropping your company in search engine results rankings. So, it’s most important to seek reviews from actual customers and show your online community you care by offering regular feedback.
Need Help Managing Your Reviews and Boosting Your SEO? We Can Help
Reputations are gained--and lost--based on customer reviews. At Providentia Marketing, we have strategies to leverage your reviews for maximum visibility and impact. Give us a call today, and we’ll make a plan to boost your local SEO and help your home care company stand out from the rest.