In the 1970s, my parents’ friends gathered each weekend to catch up about life, their kids, and what plumber they used.
Today, that same “dinner party” occurs on Google reviews, Facebook, and other online review sites. And while the people aren’t friends in real life, the collective wisdom gives people enough confidence to call the plumber getting the highest rating.
First things first:
Most importantly, spend time making sure your business is consistently creating happy customers.
If customers aren’t consistently happy, spend your time fixing your business. Full stop.
Good service = the best marketing because it will generate repeat and word-of-mouth business. And you also won’t have to find new customers to constantly replace your unhappy ones.
Once you’ve got happy customers, put someone in charge of online reviews:
Any way you do it, reach out to your customers, ask them if they’ll do you a favor, and post an online review.
Recent and decent:
You’re aiming to have recent and decent reviews on each review site. Few people will call a florist whose last review was in 2017, regardless of their rating.
Once you get a review, respond to it.
If you go here you can see my exact responses to Google reviews, but here’s my response “structure.”
- Express “joy and appreciation” for good reviews, “This review made my day!”
- Express “concern and appreciation” for the feedback on bad reviews, “This is so helpful for me, so I will address it with my whole company at the next team meeting…”
- Point out specifics about their experience with your company: “I saw photos of the mahogany deck that Jay stained. It looks fabulous.”
- Mention the person at the company that made them happy – “this shows that I’m not an absentee owner (“Jay runs our best deck-staining crew”).
Why generate online reviews?
- Your competition is already generating reviews, and it’ll be hard to “catch up” to a competitor with tons in a few years.
- At some point, someone is going to leave a bad review online. This is normal and expected. Having lots of good online reviews and great responses to reviews helps to “water down” the occasional bad review.
What do online reviews have to do with SEO?
Google is always watching, and the more you demonstrate your trustworthiness with online reviews, the higher your website is likely to rank in Google searches.
I aim to generate just two online reviews a month. Please re-read that sentence and set your expectations low. This is not a sprint but a marathon.
It’s much better to consistently get reviews than to get them in bursts of years apart.
Gather during the holidays and get your relatives to post tons of reviews in one week. Not only are fake reviews against the rules, but having tons of reviews hit at once signals that they’re fake.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, leave them in the comments.
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