If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
It sure does—and so do your online reviews. With around 90% of people saying they check reviews before visiting or using a business, someone is always around to hear the noise. Rhetorical analogies aside, majority of small businesses are missing out on new customers their reviews could be bringing them.
There are so many ways you can use your online reviews to beef up your marketing, including your search engine optimisation (SEO). They are also some of the easiest marketing strategies a small business owner can do. We’re going to take you through how to get started using your reviews to your advantage, starting with how to:
- Exploit negative reviews.
- Reduce the number of low-star reviews.
- Conduct marketing research using feedback.
- Improve your SEO with the right review platforms.
Plus, all of this will help you control your online reputation, meaning no more lost customers.
Negative online reviews can actually be good for your business.
Here’s an interesting fact; around 92% of online users are suspicious if a business has all 5-star reviews. For a business owner, a negative review can feel like a punch in the guts. We could tell you pleasing everyone is impossible (and it can be), or we could tell you how to attract even more customers thanks to one negative Nancy with a keyboard.
It’s all in how you reply. People are drawn to drama. Most consumers won’t even look at your 5-star reviews—they’ll go straight for the bad ones. This is when you can sneak in with a little strategic marketing.
When you receive a negative review (a review management program can notify you of new ones), take a second to breathe, and then type up a very diplomatic response to the reviewer.
The Dos and Don’ts of replying to a negative review
If you feel the review is entirely wrong, slanderous or defamatory, you may be able to request for the review to be removed from the platform yourself. All review platforms should outline their process and guidelines in a content integrity policy of some sort.
If you want to minimise negative online reviews, there is a way.
All business owners should be across The Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which outlines possible penalties if a business is found review tampering. You only need to Google Review Tampering Lawsuit to be scared off from touching a single review. However, as mentioned above, you are within your rights to have a review removed if it is unlawful, defamatory or slanderous.
But, wouldn’t it be better if these reviews didn’t get to the internet at all? At least until you’ve had a chance to try and resolve the issue. Well, it is possible.
Reputation management software is the latest way to legally minimise the number of negative reviews hitting your online listings.
How does reputation management software work?
There are slight modifications from company to company, but they all have a similar process. Essentially, what would happen is this:
- A reviewer submits a review.
- If the review is high (normally 3, 4 and 5 star), it will submit their review.
- If the review is low, it will ask the reviewer to direct their feedback to a survey or form, which returns to the business owner.
By doing this, the business owner (you) has a chance to resolve matter out of the public eye.
Conduct market research from your online reviews.
The whole point of a review is a person sharing what they do and don’t like about your business. So, it makes sense that this information can be very useful for knowing where you can improve or where to focus your marketing—although most businesses miss this golden opportunity.
There’s plenty of ways you can use the information provided in the content of the review, where it was submitted and the language used. This can help you adjust how you approach your marketing, the language you use, the offers you run or even the future of your products, services or location. You may even find out which staff members are going above and beyond and who isn’t performing as well as you’d like.
For example: RJ’s Diner has received some reviews on Facebook about their pancakes. So, they decide to boost a post on social media, featuring a photo of a fresh stack, offering a free coffee with pancake purchase. The post also mentions how their pancakes are rated 5 stars by locals on Facebook. They understood that people who like their pancakes use Facebook, so are more likely to see and like the post, and visit their restaurant to take them up on the deal.
Online reviews are key for any search engine optimisation (SEO) plan.
It’s estimated that reviews account for around 13% of how Google, Bing and other search engines rate your website and listings. While it may not sound like a lot, it could mean the difference between a first, second or third ranking and being at the bottom of page one or two.
Before you start asking every customer or client to leave reviews on every social media and review platform under the sun, read this first. There are a few different ways your reviews can work with Google.
Increase your long-tail keywords.
Keywords are the phrases people use to find what they’re looking for online. Short-tail keywords are one or two words, such as ‘shoes’. Long-tail keywords are more specific—for example, ‘red shoes with black soles’—and result in more chances of a purchase after a search online.
As reviewers are customers, the language they use is likely to be similar to how potential customers are searching online. So, when a reviewer says, “I bought the most amazing pair of red strappy stilettos,” Google will pull these keywords for when other people search for red strappy stilettos and show the review, along with your business information also on the page.
Become an authoritative figure.
You say you’re good, but to be honest, who cares? When other people who have used your business say you’re good, now that’s something.Not only do other people see those reviews, but so does Google. As a result, the page the reviews are on is given a little boost.
This doesn’t work if the website isn’t reputable, so choose your review platforms wisely. We explain how to choose a quality listing in our article Australia’s 10 Best Online Directories for Building Backlinks.
Show your star rating on Google.
If there’s a sure way of winning the potential customer over your competition, it’s putting your review rating front and centre. Google uses some online directories and review platforms to collate a local rating on their search result pages.
Again, before you implement a review strategy into your marketing plan, heed our warning—Google knows if a review is not authentic. As Google can see a user’s behaviour, they can often tell if they’re a paid reviewer (leaving large amounts in one go), work for the business or have submitted using an anonymous profile.
One way you can increase the number of reviews you receive is by using online reputation management software. After a customer has completed a transaction, you can use the reputation manager to send them a text or email prompting them to leave a review. While the exact process varies from manager to manager, most will have some level of automation you can setup.