How to Boost Google Reviews for Better SEO

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According to Google data, 20 percent of all searches are localized. As a result, the search engine has started placing a much higher importance on local search results. There are a number of specific optimization tactics to help your website start ranking better for these local searches, one of those being online reviews. Keith Moehring, senior consultant and director of labs at PR 20/20, a digital marketing firm for small businesses, explains how to generate Google reviews.

There are a lot of reasons why Google reviews are important. One, it’s third-party validation. Seeing the opinion of other customers goes a long way toward establishing trust and credibility, which is pretty significant considering all of the options customers have online. The other side of things is that search engines like Google will look at and use those types of reviews to further establish your credibility as a valuable resource online. 

If you have reviews, you can also install different widgets on your website that will have those reviews appear in the search result. It helps make your listing on search engines stand out and attract attention. 

The big thing with SEO and getting those rankings higher is that search engines are looking at who’s clicking on those links and who’s not coming back to the sites. They’re evaluating your site and clickability. If they see a bunch of people rating you very favorably, it’s another indicator that you’re worth showing off. 

There are a few steps any shop can take to generate more online reviews:

1. The most important component is that you can’t beg people to do it. They have to want to write a review. So first and foremost, you have to over-deliver on service and quality. Take their temperature, either through one-on-one conversations or sending a survey, and make sure that you are doing a good job and that your customers are happy with your service.

2. Next, identify the review sites you would like to use. The ones I would most recommend include Google, Yelp, the BBB and Angie’s List. Identify 3–5 target review sites, create an account, claim your listing and make sure your information is accurate and consistent with your website. Double check that your company name, physical address, phone number, website address and email address are all completely filled in and exactly match the information on your website. I would also recommend claiming your business on Google with “Google My Business,” a very simple, free Google tool that allows you to verify your business and more easily acquire customer reviews. 

3. Many people are already web-savvy, but it may be helpful to create a quick how-to flyer or a landing page that provides easy instructions for posting a review online. List step-by-step instructions but keep it basic. You don’t want it to seem like a time-consuming task for your staff. Make it easy for customers to review your business with a prominent button on your website or a link in your email or printed marketing materials that takes customers to your local Google page. Once a customer is there, there is a button that says “Write a Review,” which a customer clicks and is taken through the simple steps to write a review. 

4. Ask for reviews. The art to this is to make it seem like you are not asking. Wait until the sale is complete and customers have gotten their car back and have had time to be happy with your service. If you tell customers that you take reviews very seriously and actively monitor them to help you gauge overall customer satisfaction (and so you can continually improve your company), you’ll find many customers are willing to offer an online review. You can ask for reviews in person, over the phone or via email. For example, after service is complete, send a follow-up email that says, “If you enjoyed your service, we would really appreciate a review,” and give them a link to a specific site. 

5. Monitor your online reputation and keep track of reviews—positive, negative or mediocre. One thing you have to be ready for is negative reviews. Treat them as opportunities to show the particular reviewer, and anyone else that reads it, that you are paying attention and willing to work to improve your performance. Don’t get defensive. Instead, try to reach them directly, address it and try to connect with them.

6. Whatever you do, don’t fake reviews. Resist the urge to call your friends and family members to solicit positive reviews. Many sites monitor this closely and there can be consequences, such as getting kicked off the site. 

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