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by Justin King

February 22, 2019

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84 / 100

Local listings are a great way to market your company in Portland. However, if you don’t have any positive reviews within those local listings they can do more harm than good. When reviewing all the different businesses within your industry or category, users will always look to the reviews to get a better idea of the service and quality of product they can expect.

If you don’t have any reviews but your competition’s page is filled with positive reviews, you’re sending customers directly to them instead of to you. In order to get positive reviews for your business, follow these tips. Then get ready to watch customers line up at your door.

Leaves and Ask More note

Ask for them

You know that customers don’t already know about the deals and special promotions you’re offering, so you tell them. How else are they supposed to know? The same can be said of reviews. How are customers supposed to know that you want them, or that there’s a place they can leave them, if you don’t let them know. You could tell them about your online listing or other review site and ask them to leave a review. It’s really that simple.

Remember that when asking for reviews that’s it’s important you simply ask for a review. Don’t ask for “a good review” as this can often come across as pushy or presumptuous. Just ask for the review and leave it at that.

Engage customers online

Remember that the entire point of getting good reviews is to build your online reputation, not to simply hit your goal of getting “x” number of reviews. One of the best ways to build your online reputation, and perhaps get a few new positive reviews in the meantime, is to engage your customers online.

To do this, start conversations with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Ask questions, publish posts that invite customers to respond. If someone says something positive about your business, retweet it or share it so even more people can see it. These are unofficial reviews, but they work the same way – and sometimes even better – than those found in a directory. One conversation can also inspire a customer to head over to a directory to leave a positive review so, this option has many benefits for the business owner.

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Make it easy for them

Customers don’t to want to work to give you a positive review. And to leave a review in many directories, such as Facebook, the customer has to have an account with that directory. This is why it’s so important to be listed in multiple directories. Maybe they don’t have a Facebook account, but they do have a Google account. Or maybe they leave reviews all the time on Yelp. The more places you’re listed, the better the chances you’re in one of the directories your customers use. That alone is likely to get you more reviews.

Respond to negative comments

It’s not something any business owner wants to think about, but at some point there will likely be a bad review that pops up in an online directory. It can be frustrating, particularly if you don’t agree with the customer. There is a way to fix it, though. Simply respond to the customer. Tell them you’re sorry they had a bad experience and ask them how you can fix it. Or just go ahead and fix it, if that’s a possibility.

Do not try to explain yourself.

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Never explain yourself in a negative review response. Simply offer to make it better, and give reassurance that their problem is being addressed.

It will only appear as an excuse and you will seem “needy” to the readers and “villainize” the 1 star reviewer. This is a huge turnoff in business and in life. After you’ve taken the steps to correct the problem, the customer that left the review will often leave a positive review detailing their experience and how happy you were to help.

If you’d like a game plan for responding to negative reviews, check out Moz’s article here.

Review other businesses

Remember that you also don’t need to look strictly at customers to get reviews. Local businesses are tight-knit communities, often with business owners supporting each other. So head on over to your neighbor’s Yelp page, or leave a positive review for that bakery that supplies all that fresh bread for your deli. Head on over to Facebook and Instagram and spread the love with a positive note about the company (making sure you tag them so they’ll see it), and include a hash tag such as #smallbizbiglove. They will likely return the favor.

However, know that Google has decided that reviewing competitors is not allowed. According to BrightLocal, Google feels that “posting content about a competitor to manipulate their ratings” to be a conflict of interest. They don’t describe the penalty, but play it safe and review local non-competitors only.

Don’t offer incentives for reviews

It may seem to make sense. Offer customers something extra for their review and they’re more likely to leave one, right? However, this is a strategy that can have serious ramifications. Firstly, many review sites will penalize a business if they know someone is leaving a review because they have been asked. Yelp believes that customers leaving a review because they have been asked to do so actually compromises the integrity of their website. Secondly, customers will see it for exactly what it is – a bribe.

So when asking for a review, don’t offer anything in return. At least not at first. Instead, wait until the customer has left a review and then, as a thank you, send them a coupon for 10 percent off next time they use your business. This will also look just like what it is – a thank you gesture, rather than buying reviews.

Optimize your content

Your website is one of the best tools you have when trying to get positive reviews. It’s yours, and you can do whatever you want with it. So why not include a page with links to review sites? Once that page is up and running, you can place a link on every page of your website with a caption, “Check us out on these review sites” and include the link in your email signature.

You’ll be providing the links, making it easier for customers, and with so many links appearing in different places, you’ll get the word out about those online directories to even more people.

Create a web page with links to review sites

Having one page of your website dedicated to providing the links to review sites and online directories is a great start. But you don’t have to keep your online content pertaining to reviews restricted to just that one page.

Optimize your blog content and other content on your website with badges that can quickly and easily direct customers to sites like Yelp and Facebook so they can leave a positive review. Social badges can also be placed in marketing emails, social media profiles, and wherever else you go online.

Automate the process

As online reviews have become more popular, and business owners have continued to struggle with ways to manage them, online services have emerged that are here to help. Just one of these, ReviewBiz, is a widget that can be placed onto your site. This will make it easier to get reviews, validate your reviews so you can experience all the full benefits of them, promotes the review content on your website and social media channels, personalizes your business, and drives sales and gets you more leads.

Get reviews

This seems like a Catch 22, doesn’t it? Your end goal is to get reviews, and in order to do that you have to get reviews? How does that work? It works because the more reviews your business has, the more likely other people are to leave their own reviews. And while of course, no business owner wants to get a ton of bad reviews, remember that the end goal is just to get reviews; but you do want to make sure that you’re getting more positive reviews than negative.

If you get ten reviews and seven of them are positive and three of them are negative, this is actually better than just having one great review. So, focus on just getting reviews and more will start to come.

The Great Reviews Roadmap

Lets wrap this review discussion up with a list of your action items.

  • Ask for reviews
  • Engage with your community
  • Make it easy for customers to give reviews
  • Respond to negative reviews
  • Review other non-competitor businesses
  • Never offer incentives for reviews
  • Optimize your website with review links
  • Create a page with links to review sites
  • Automate the process with tools and engagement
  • Get reviews to get more reviews

About the author 

Justin King

Justin King has been studying digital marketing for 4 years, with a focus on SEO and direct response. He works from his Oregon home, nestled between 3 giant sequoias in the first city west of the Mississippi. Justin gets a big kick out of northwest IPA's, New Orleans brass band-hip hop mashups, guiding whitewater raft trips, and keeping his Navajo res-dog from escaping from their tiny yard.

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