It’s now easier than ever to share an online business review – good or bad. But fear not, small business owners! You hold the power to better business reviews and higher search results right in the palm of your hands.

Why are online business reviews so important?

More people are turning to online reviews for future purchase decisions. A recent research study by  BrightLocal, an SEO company, found that 85% of customers read online reviews for local businesses before making purchasing decisions. Over 70%of respondents said that reading positive reviews made them more likely to trust a business.

While all sorts of businesses can be reviewed online, some are more commonly written about than others. Here are the top 5 local business types by review consumption according to BrightLocal:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Doctors/Dentists
  3. Hotels/B&B/Guest House
  4. General shop
  5. Hair/Beauty Salon

If your business is in one of these top 5 sectors, you’ll want to be especially attuned to what customers are saying about your business. Once a person has decided they’re in need of a product or service, online review sites are typically the last stop before the final purchase.

Reviews & Search Engine Optimization

Did you know that the more reviews your business has, the higher it’ll appear in local search rankings? The quality of the reviews plays a role as well; so the higher the star rating, the better. Businesses with the most volume and highest quality of reviews appear first. This is why it’s important to obtain as many positive reviews as possible from your customers!

Here are some frequently used review sites you’ll want to become more acquainted with if you haven’t already: Yelp, Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), Yahoo! Local ListingsCitysearch, and Angie’s List. Some of these sites will be more or less relevant depending on your industry. For example, Angie’s List is very popular for finding service providers such as home repair and contracting companies. Yelp is commonly used for finding restaurants and retail stores.

Once you know where you want your good reviews to show up, you can look to your loyal customers for support!

Here are the top 2 ways to get good reviews from your customers:

1. Ask – or – make your presence known –Ask your customers if they use online review sites and let them know you have a presence there. While you don’t want to be pushy, you do want your customers to know that you care about your reputation. Yelp offers some additional helpful tips to increase your engagement, such as posting a check-in offer. When customers check-in to your business on Yelp, not only are all of their friends able to see it, they are also prompted to share a review. You can reward these customers by offering them something special for checking in. WARNING: Whatever you do, be sure NOT to offer any freebies like gift cards, chips, or even a soda for a shining review! Trading goods for a positive review violates Yelp’s, Google’s and many other site’s terms of service agreements.

2. Provide excellent customer service – It’s probably not surprising, but a recent survey by Dimensional Research found that customer service is the #1 influencing factor in a customer’s decision to write a positive review. When customers are highly satisfied with a purchase, they’re more likely to write a review (whether you ask or not!).

What to do about a negative review

Sometimes negative reviews happen (sniff, sniff). Try to see them as an opportunity for even more awesome customer service. If a customer was truly unhappy with their service, in many cases you can contact them and offer a refund or a future free service. You can also add a comment to the review that tells what steps have been taken to improve this particular issue. If the negative review appears to be falsified, you can submit a request that the review be removed.

So there you have it… People talk, and a little positive feedback from your customers goes a long way. When you know where to look for your business reviews and whom you can ask to contribute, you’re well on your way to building a better online business reputation.

How do you manage business reviews for your biz? Share your experience in the comments.

© 2013 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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