Not so long ago, in a land not so far away, there was no such thing as an “online review.”
Remember? Please tell me you remember, or else I’ll just feel really old.
Life was a bit less predictable back then. If you needed an honest mechanic or you were planning a summer vacation or you had a date that needed to be perfect, your options for making sure you didn’t get stuck in a horror movie hotel or a restaurant with questionable health code standards were limited. You phoned a friend, your dad, a travel agent or you rolled the dice, walked into that restaurant blind and hoped for the best.
It was a like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, in real life!
The idea of dialing your way through the Yellow Pages (hey, remember the Yellow Pages??) seems charmingly nostalgic now, in our age of choice paralysis and information overload.
But think of it this way: reviews are an incredibly empowering tool for a business owner.
First, customer reviews boost your online presence and make you more visible in search engine results. This is what we call search engine optimization or just SEO. More on that in a bit. Reviews are also a treasure trove of information about who your customers are and how they are interacting with your product.
But you can only use this information if you know where to find it and work it to your advantage.
And this is exactly where we can help.
There are three simple things that you can do today to manage your reviews and start maximizing their potential.
1. Set up or claim your business profile (or sometimes called “listing”) on the top review sites
Start by identifying the top review sites for your type of business.
The usual suspects are:
You can also find industry-specific review sites like TripAdvisor, OpenTable and Healthgrades.
Once you’ve identified the top review sites for your business and set up a company profile, you’re ready to move into monitoring and management mode.
2. Manage negative reviews positively
No one pouring their heart and soul into their business wants a customer to walk away with a bad experience. So how should you handle a negative review?
First things first. Take a deep breath. Hearing criticism, deserved or not, is really tough. But do your best to stay objective and ask yourself an important question:
Is there some truth in this criticism?
Be completely honest with yourself. If there is truth there, then you’ve just identified an area that you can improve on. And that’s actually a very positive thing. Think of it as an opportunity to make your business even better and more successful!
Secondly, it’s a good idea to respond to the negative review right where the comment was left, as opposed to a private email. This allows other customers to see that you acknowledged the issue, you care, and you’re doing something positive about it.
Thirdly, be prompt in addressing customer complaints. This means that you need to be checking your reviews on a regular basis, if possible. The sooner you know about a problem, the sooner you can address it and stop further negative reviews from occuring.
3. Increase your reviews
Maybe you have a brand new business or one that hasn’t generated a ton of online buzz yet.
Remember earlier when I mentioned SEO? Your goal is to have your business pop up in search engine results. When customers post a review of your company, you’re increasing your web visibility and giving your business a much better chance of being found by new customers.
If you don’t have a lot of reviews yet, one of the best strategies is a simple one: just ask.
Email customers with a link to your profile on a review site and ask them for an honest take on their experience. Ideally, you should wait 3-5 days after a purchase to request a review. This gives the customer time to interact with your product, resulting in a more accurate review.
If this has got you wondering about other ways to maximize your web presence and search results, make sure to download our SEO Fit Guide.
And remember, you’re not alone! If you’re needing a little extra help in managing your reviews, or want us to strategize with you further on ways to get more positive reviews for your business, contact us. We’d be happy to connect!
See also: What is SEO and Why Do I Need It?