Reviews are really, really important.
Yes, I had to say really twice. It almost goes without saying that great reviews increase the likelihood that a visitor will turn into a customer. When a customer sees a Google+ Local page or Yelp page with lots of positive reviews, along with helpful and empathetic responses to those reviews from the business, what kind of feeling do you think they get? For me, personally, it’s often the final push I need when deciding to try a new café, restaurant or bar.
As if that wasn't enough, reviews are really important for your search ranking on Google and other search engines. If your competition consistently succeeds in getting more reviews than you, they’re going to consistently outrank you on key local search terms.
So, how do you get customers to leave you reviews?
Sitting back and waiting for reviews to appear just isn't an option. It's a shame but complainers are often more motivated than people with something positive to say. As a result, the people that leave unsolicited reviews on Yelp and Google+ Local are on average going to describe a negative experience. If you want a consistent flow of favorable reviews, you’re going to have to do something to get them.
Fortunately, we’re here to give you 8 simple methods you can begin implementing today to improve your reviews on Yelp, Google and other popular local business directories.
Before we hop into our 8 tips (I know, you’re excited and probably skipped right to them) I have some advice you should take before employing these methods. And that is:
Don’t push too hard too fast!
If your Google+ Local and Yelp pages were stagnant for the most part, getting 10 reviews in 1 week is going to look unnatural. This may lead to filtered Yelp reviews (and Google+ reviews) which is a messy situation to deal with. If you’re just starting out, you should try to get 3-5 reviews per month. Remember: local SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
Okay, let’s get to it!
- Family & friends – You have them for a reason, and that reason is to help you promote your business. If you’ve done work for family or friends, there’s nothing wrong with asking them to leave you a review. Don’t abuse this tactic right away; you don’t want to use up all of your family/friend resources in the first week of building reviews!
- Email signature – Do you email customers & business partners? You should add a link to your Google+ Local page and Yelp page in your signature with a short blurb that say something like, “Have we done business together? Please review us on Google+ and Yelp!”
- Ask! – It’s important to get in the habit of asking for reviews whenever the situation presents itself. Did you just have a great interaction with a customer in your restaurant or store? Ask them to leave you a review! You may be surprised how many people are willing to help you when asked.
- Reach out to previous reviewers! – I’m sure you have other online profiles with some positive customer reviews. Why not reach out to them and ask them to leaveanother review on a different online profile? You already know that they’re the type to leave a review and that they like your business.
- On the phone – Just have a great experience with a customer over the phone? Or did a previous customer leave a “review card” with their phone number? Ask them to review their experience with you online!
- Review cheat sheet – Put together a brief “cheat sheet” that gives instructions on how to review your business. Provide links to your Yelp or Google+ Local profile, bonus points if you use bit.ly to shorten the link! Now hand this sheet out to customers you’d like to review you.
- Website review page – Similar to the physical review “cheat sheet” but accessible online. Provide links to your online profiles with instructions on how to leave a review. Make the URL to this page easy to remember! You should be able to have someone easily remember how to find this page.
- Email marketing (You do collect emails, right?) – If you don’t already collect emails, you need to start today. It’s as easy as collecting business cards or having a pen & paper sign up sheet. When sending emails out to customers, always ask for a review or provide a link to your newly created “Review Page” on your website.
So that’s it! Eight simple ways to get reviews on Yelp, Google+ local and other popular directories.
Do you have any other surefire ways to get Yelp & Google local reviews? Please share in the comments; we’d love to hear them.
By Trevor Sumner
Founder and CEO, LocalVox
Trevor is a technologist and product marketer with 15 years of management experience in digital, social media and mobile technology.