Part 3: SEO’s Impact On Customers & Online Reviews
Part three of this five part blog series explains the essential need for business owners to understand the increasing influence SEO has on how customers receive and perceive online reviews on sites like Yelp & Angie’s List.
Even if you’re not ready to be on the Internet, your customers aren’t always on your timetable. As you can see below, almost 100% of Internet users read reviews and they affect almost all of their decisions. According to a Channel Advisor survey, ‘Through the Eyes of the Consumer’:
92% of US Internet users read online reviews
46% of consumers were influenced to purchase based on reviews
43% of consumers were deterred from purchasing based on reviews
3% of consumers reported their decision was unaffected by reviews
Understanding the impact SEO has on online reviews & ratings…
A huge part of properly managing SEO for your online pictures, profiles, blogs, and websites is linking them all to your company. Every directory submission, description, and summary you issue are vital keys to your company branding. Consumers are regularly browsing through sites like Google Places where they will find photos, links, and bios of your company… and your competitors. If you don’t properly leverage SEO for all the content and graphics that you post online, your company will get lost in cyber space while your local competition is showing up in every search and on every site.
…Especially the impact online reviews have on customers.
All these graphics and summaries get linked to various review sites. Local customers rely heavily on these sites to provide them with the best possible information before hiring a company. While you can ask your customers to go online and provide a review for your company, typically the only customers that have the motivation to take time out of their day and review your products or services are the ones that feel you went above and beyond, or the very opposite, the customers feeling that they got burned.
There are multiple ways to look at a negative review:
Although it can be an emotional hit, bad reviews should be handled with care; they should never be responded to rashly or emotionally. Chances are the bad review is about a particular experience, not you as a person.
Look at any negative reviews as opportunities to showcase your company’s excellent customer service, and dedication to quality. Negative reviews can be good PR if you handle them tactfully. These complaints can also serve as a guide for things your company can improve on, because hey, nobody’s perfect.
How to respond to a review?
When responding to a review the best thing to do is to engage the customer. It is important that your tone is not defensive or confrontational; rather it should be one of concern. Be nice, be courteous, and genuinely try to help them. Know that it is incredibly hard to win an argument with a berated customer. Do not try; it will most likely reflect poorly on you and your company. Take the higher ground. Try to understand what went wrong and make every effort you can to put the situation right.
You can read more from the full blog here: “How to Handle A Bad Review”
Why are reviews SO important?
One of the first places potentials customers look when searching for local businesses are review sites. Not to mention sites like Yelp and Angie’s List are so well optimized that they rank incredibly high in search engine results. Every review is important. If you can tell a customer isn’t satisfied before the job is finished, take the extra time and money to fix it before they cost you dozens of potential customers with a negative review.
A recent blog on Bnetworking.info stated the following: “Reviews – First of all, do not attempt to make reviews. Internet users will immediately know that they are not true. Reviews are really important in local citations. They are very similar to site linking since they give search engines as well as citation sites the notion that your business is just as excellent as you state it is. You can even find citation sites that will not list you in generic searches if you do not have a favorable review. Thus, once you are done with your profile, spend time to build reviews.”
Local residents search for a business that is in their community, affordable, and trustworthy.
This is why online reviews are so important. You can’t be afraid of the criticisms people leave. You should face these reviews head-on. Never ask a customer to remove a review. And most importantly, you must understand that even if you’re not ready to be on the Internet, customers aren’t always on your timetable.
Don’t hide from bad reviews…
The worst thing is being afraid to deal with it. I’ve worked with some business owners and they didn’t even know that they had dozens of reviews on Yelp. This is customer engagement at it’s best. It’s raw and real. Embrace the good and the bad because that’s what makes you human and that’s how customers trust you.
About this series…
This five part blog series takes a deep look into highly competitive industry landscapes and tips to successfully compete as a locally owned business.
Part 1: The REAL Threats Local Businesses Will Face in 2015
Part 2: Money-Back Guarantees… Is It A Ploy?