Do potential customers find your business when they search for what you do? If you haven’t gone through the proper steps to rank then your customers will never find you.
For example, if you’re an HVAC company in Boulder, CO, and you type “heater repair boulder co” in Google do you even show up?
If your business isn’t listed in Google then customers will never find you. If you’re listed, but you haven’t put any effort into your listing then you’re likely buried in the search results.
Take a look at the search results from Google. This is what your customer is seeing when they search for a business.
As you can see, there are a lot of different elements to Google search. So, a strategy that takes into account both paid and organic ranking is essential to your business success in search results.
This post is going to focus on the organic results and how you can improve your visibility in them. Reviews do play a role in local service ads, but we’re not going to focus on that. They even play a minor role in the organic search results.
But what is the most important aspect to gaining more visilibility in search results?
The Most Important Ongoing Work That Ranks Your Business For More Keywords In Search Results
That’s the overly simplified answer. It gets a lot more complicated than that. Of course, reviews being the most important assumes you’ve put a lot of effort into getting your business listings right. You can see all the data compiled about local search ranking factors by Whitespark and how reviews are high up on the list.
It’s true reviews are rated as only the second most important ranking factor. That doesn’t make them any less important than your actual Google Business Profile, though. The only reason for this is that you can’t have reviews without a profile. Once your profile is finished then reviews are going to be the next factor that will move your business higher in the list.
What list is that? The local pack. That’s the block of businesses beneath the map labeled business profile above. Being on the local pack is one of the best marketing tools for your business and reviews can put you there.
You can’t simply get several reviews that say “great job!” and that’s it, though. Reviews that don’t have any meaningful content will not do a lot for your ranking. In fact, they can easily be removed by looking like spam or fake reviews.
The best tip for optimizing your online presence is to focus on getting more reviews that are genuine and helpful.
That means focusing on getting quality reviews rather than quantity. Ask every customer, no matter how satisfied you think they are to leave you a review. Don’t stop there, though. Guide their reviews by asking specific questions that will help you rank for specific keywords.
A customer review with a search keyword in it can help you rank for that keyword. Not only that, but Google will show reviews with keywords in search results. That means if your business reviews have keywords in the reviews, but your competitors do not, your business is more likely to show up in search results.
The third result in the local pack has a review showing solar panel clean in the review when the search term was solar panel cleaning. That business showed up in the results because of this review. Of course, you can also see a well-optimized website for local search is essential also because keywords from your website will also show up in search.
Why Else Reviews Are Essential
I’ve shown the most important reason why reviews are essential but there’s more. Just getting into the top of local search results is a start but reviews will help you even more.
Here are some of the reasons why reviews are essential beyond just improving your rank in search results.
People trust reviews a lot. They trust others in their decision making whether it’s the #1 factor or not. Even a personal recommendation is a type of review.
Reviews and recommendations are all a trust factor. The best part about reviews, though, is that they’re social proof. Reviews are visible to the public, which makes them helpful for ranking AND helpful for building trust.
Word of mouth is great, but if you get a word of mouth recommendation but have no reviews to back it up then you may lose customers you’d otherwise have.
By getting quality reviews you’re showing future customers that you’re trustworthy.
They Speak Your Customer’s Language
Reviews are written by your customers. That means reviews tell about your business in your customer’s words. Your customers can write better keywords than you ever could. That’s because your customers speak the language of other customers whereas you may speak the jargon of your industry.
When your customer uses their own language to describe what you do they’ll catch more nuance than you might because you’re so involved with your business and the day to day. With customer reviews, your business can show up in a whole new category of keywords relating to your business that you might never show up for.
Customers Learn More
I personally check reviews to learn more about a product or service that I might otherwise never know. Potential customers do the same thing every day for nearly every business. Reviews tell your customers more about your business than you ever could.
Your past customers have insights into what makes you special like nobody else. The more reviews you have, the more future customers can learn about your business and the many things you do that you may not think to put on your website.
Reviews from your customers provide a new dimension to your business that you, as the owner, might never think to promote.
Help Your Business Improve
User feedback is vital in order to help you improve your business. Reviews are a form of feedback as long as you listen. Your most critical customer can also be a ticket to more customers. Negative reviews are especially helpful as long as you listen to the review, respond kindly and productively, and then improve your business.
While reviews are public, and you may fear a public raking over the coals. But don’t fear it, embrace it. Future customers aren’t necessarily turned off by a 1-star review and in fact it may be the deciding factor for them choosing your business. As long as you respond to a negative review with compassion and empathy, a negative review can help you.
Customers will see how much you care and how much you want to do good for them.
Bad reviews not only give you a chance to show how awesome you can be, they also lend a bit of trust to your business. Doesn’t a perfect 5-star review average look a little suspicious?
I don’t know about you but an average rating of 4.2 to 4.5 looks a bit more trustworthy than a 5. A perfect average makes my mind go towards spam reviews.
How To Get More & Better Reviews
This section could be an entire post in itself, so I’ll sum things up and write in more detail about this later. If you’re relying on your customer loving you so much they insist on leaving a review, you’ll be waiting for a loooooong time.
The fact is, most of your customers will never even think of leaving a review. They may say thank you, they may tell someone about you some day and if you’re lucky they’ll return again soon. People are busy and forgetful. That means you’re not at the top of their mind and neither is your business.
You have to ask for reviews from every one of your customers. Even for sites that don’t let you ask, you can still hint to the fact you’re on a review site (Yelp!)
That could be as simple as putting a link to your Yelp profile on your invoice and telling your customer they can find you on Yelp. Just don’t ask for a review, or you risk getting your reviews removed or worse, Yelp will come after you with pages of legal documents telling you to cease and desist.
But, for most review websites it’s perfectly fine if you ask your customer to leave you a review. As long as you don’t ask for a 5-star review. Google is fine with you asking for a review and, in fact, encourages it. They make it easy to do so by providing you with a direct link to leave you a review.
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 to get your Google Business Profile review link.
When you’re logged into Google under your account, search for your business name. At the top of the results, your business will show up with a neat link to promote your business.
Asking for reviews one by one can be a challenge, though. Not only that but if you send one email or text asking for a review, you’ll likely get forgotten. People are busy, and your business is not their priority. That’s why you need to ask for a review and also remind them again.
That’s where automation can help you.
Automate Review Generation
An easy way to generate more reviews with less effort from you is to automate the process. Local marketing automation can help you generate more reviews while saving you a ton of time. We designed a tool to make it a lot easier to get reviews.
Loclmark makes it easy to set up a review generation campaign and then add your customers as they come. The campaign will follow up for you and provide you with report how many reviews you’ve generated and info on the average rating and more.
You just have to set up the campaign, choose whether to send an email, text, or both and the rest is automated for you. That means you can go about doing more imprtant tasks to you rather than get bogged down in emails, texts, and following up.
Improve Your Reviews
Asking for reviews is essential (and urged) for all directories except Yelp. But simply asking with no guidance and nothing to guide your customer, you’ll end up with poorly written rambling reviews. Reviews that have maximum impact for your business online include keywords and a descriptive experience rather than a basic “awesome!” which isn’t going to help you much.
One great way to get better reviews is to give your customers some basic guidance when asking them for a review. Give them some general ideas about what they can share with others about your business. In other words, direct them not only to the review site you want reviews but also guide their review topics.
Asking your customers to mention some of the following:
- What they purchased
- What service they used
- How the product or service worked for them
- What city you helped them
If your customer mentions some of those in their review, that will tell future customers more about your business. Not only that, but it will help you rank higher in local searches and for more new keywords. Daren Shaw from Whitespark recorded a great video and blog post about how you can get keywords in your reviews. There are even some free templates you can use.
With Loclmark you can use those free templates to create a campaign. Then you can put your power review generation on auto-pilot saving you time and generating tons of amazing reviews that will boost your business to the top of local search results in your city.
Reviews may be considered the second most important part of local pack marketing on Google, but they shouldn’t be forgotten. You can only go so far in the local pack by optimizing your Google Business Profile. After you’ve properly optimized and continue to tweak your profile, reviews are the next most important part.
That means you need to constantly generate new reviews to build trust, let your customers speak to future customers in their own words, show more about your business, and improve your business. If you can continue to generate quality reviews then you’ll more consistently reach the top of the Google local pack, one of the best positions to get new customers.
If you guide your customers to improve their reviews then it will also improve your business ranking. You’ll rank for more keywords and future customers will learn more about your business. It will also save you time answer questions because your customers will do it for you.
Making the most of reviews for your business can take a lot of time. There are ways you can automate some of the process which will save you tons of time and make your review generation efforts more effective. A good local marketing automation tool is the key to making reviews work for your business while also making optimizing your Google Business Profile easier than ever.