Successfully launching–and growing–a local business is tough work. Something as simple as Google reviews, however, can make life much easier. In the past, local businesses could largely rely on foot traffic and word of mouth to grow their brand. Nowadays though, most customers begin their search for businesses online — even when they’re looking for something in their local area.
Why it matters
When a startup wants to learn more about a business or find a product, their first step is usually a Google search. That’s why getting your store to show up in Google search results should be a top priority for any small business owner or entrepreneur, especially those with brick and mortar stores.
Most marketing data that’s accumulated reveals that a significant percentage of searches for products “nearby” or “near me” lead directly to a purchase, and the highest percentage of local searches result in a consumer visiting a store within five miles of their location.
As such, improving local SEO so your business shows up in these searches will have a significant impact on your bottom line. One of the best ways to improve your local SEO is by acquiring more Google reviews.
Local business searches can be highly influential, and instant data shows that consumers are more likely to click onto websites that are either one or two of the top searches on Google. Once they visit the reviews and observe how many positive ones a business or entrepreneur receives, the consumer will then make a purchase based on the local analysis.
While there are many factors that can influence a customer’s decision to buy from you after doing a Google search, few are more influential than reviews. User reviews build trust and credibility, serving as the modern-day word of mouth. The more reviews a local business can get, the more influential it will appear in search results. Here are some tips to get your entrepreneurship started.
Claim your Google My Business profile
If you haven’t already done so, you need to claim your Google My Business profile. This profile is completely free and gives you total control over the listing for your store that shows up on Google searches. Claiming your profile allows you to update basic information such as your address, business hours, a contact number, and a link to your website.
You can also upload photos and images of your store or brand product you plan to sell. Filling out this basic profile information lets users know that this is an official profile, which makes customers more likely to leave a review.
Send out email reminders
Most customers aren’t going to leave a review right after they order an online product from your website or after they finish a transaction in-store. Instead, they need to fully experience the product or service before they feel comfortable with leaving a review. Once a consumer has truly experienced the product or service will they then leave a review. For a local business, it’s best to send an email reminder a few days or a week after the completion of the transaction.
You don’t need to have an online checkout to collect email addresses, either. Smart in-store checkout devices offer the option to send digital receipts to a customer’s email, which you can use later to request a review.
Share positive reviews on other outlets
People like to know that their opinions have been heard and matter. Digital marketing agencies that focus on helping small-and medium-sized businesses grow through SEO and customer reviews. It is this maximizing the reach of your positive reviews that creates a win-win. Great reviews can provide marketing materials for Facebook or Twitter, or serve as verifiable testimonials for your website.
At the same time, many reviewers like seeing their comments shared more broadly, which can encourage even more people to leave reviews for your new business or ongoing operation. Curating positive reviews to be featured on your website or social media profiles will provide powerful social proof for customers who don’t discover you through a Google search, which ensures that all potential customers are exposed to positive word of mouth.
Use physical reminders for digital reviews
You may not always be able to collect email addresses to remind customers to leave their feedback. However, using some traditional methods can still help you acquire more reviews. For example, contractors and service companies often leave business cards after completing work for a client. Alongside your business card and any other paperwork you leave–such as warranty information–consider adding a Google review card that provides a link and brief instructions for leaving an online review. Then remind customers that sharing their experience also helps others.
Respond to current reviews
Regardless of whether you get positive or negative feedback, it’s important to respond to the Google reviews that you do receive. If you respond to customer comments immediately, or within a week of them investing in your business, receiving higher star-ratings and increasing the likelihood of repeat business is imminent. Be careful though when responding to negative reviews. Look at this as an opportunity to learn and grow your business, and structure your wordsmithing accordingly.
Offering to help the customer and make things right–rather than arguing with them–is a significant and vital step to giving the consumer a chance to change their negative reviews if your business attempts to rectify the situation.
Go above and beyond
Since the internet tends to amplify extreme experiences, most individuals who are going to leave reviews for your business are those who were either completely blown away by your service or those who were extremely disappointed in it. Wherever the two shall meet is your job and responsibility as an entrepreneur to learn from these challenges and take a step further to meet the customer’s demands.
Consistently going above and beyond what customers expect and truly wowing them with your service will motivate them to leave more glowing reviews on Google, and also to spread the word via social media. It will encourage repeat business in the future, while building the kind of loyalty every local business needs to thrive and securing your place on Google search SEO rankings.
Gone are the days when potential customers would scour the yellow pages to find a local business that suits their needs. For many, online shopping and purchasing is the first place they search, in large part because of the transparency provided by online reviews. As you increase the number of reviews your business receives on Google, you’ll also strengthen your digital reputation and get even more customers to visit your website, spread the word on social media, network in their neighborhoods, and even pay you a visit in person to personally thank you for all of your hard work in earning their business.