Online reviews are crucial to the success of doing business online.
Not only are reviews important for online businessess, but as a local business, word of mouth can only take you so far until you want to start competing online.
For that reason, collecting online reviews and SEO reputation management should be a big part of your marketing game plan.
Reviews help customers to make an informed decision prior to making a purchase, and customers are highly influenced by both negative and positive reviews.
SEO reputation management is at the forefront of the online review movement, and it’s easy to see why.
Run a branded search for most established companies in Google, and the first thing you’re going to find underneath of their website is a list of different platforms, all of which talk about the positive and negative experiences of those customers.
If you’re doing a great job with your online reputation management and offering an all-around Grade A experience to your customers, you’re reaping the benefits of these efforts.
On the other hand, if you’ve been slacking when it comes to reviews and you’ve got some issues with your product or service, well, you’re probably looking for a way to combat those negative reviews and to turn things around.
Online reviews play an integral part in the customer buying process, and that’s a fact. The following three statistics say it all when it comes to reviews:
In order to compete online in 2020 and beyond, you need to be collecting positive reviews and making sure those positive sentiments are seen by potential customers.
Collecting quality reviews from your customers has the following:
Collecting positive reviews, and properly managing those reviews in Google will greatly attribute to the overall success of your business.
Let’s dive further into the nitty-gritty of online review management, how to collect reviews and SEO reputation management.
Online reputation management in the broadest sense is how you manage your overall online footprint when it comes to your brand’s reputation.
ORM encompasses not only search engine optimization but also social networking, third-party review sites among other means to manage your entire online presence.
You must be monitoring your online reviews across other web pages and review collection platforms, and effectively managing those reviews – especially any negative sentiments left by customers (or even worse, by competitors).
It’s important to also monitor all brand mentions, or online references to your brand, in reviews, blog posts, social media profiles, or news articles.
If your overall brand reputation is suffering from negative effects, you’re most likely seeing the following impact:
In order to have a successful online reputation, you should be focusing on the following points:
What customers say about you online is your reputation, and you need to be both proactive and monitoring the overall online sentiment about your brand.
Today, there’s a lot of different ways and platforms with which you can collect reviews for your business.
On which platforms you collect reviews is going to be dependant on your industry, and as well as your goals.
Some industries have specific platforms that are great for collecting reviews and a very industry-specific, such as Avvo in the legal space, or WebMD in the healthcare space.
You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket, and at the same time, you don’t want to be managing review profiles across 15+ different platforms. This is both time-consuming and a marketing headache.
Collecting reviews with your own in-house solution can be both time-consuming to build, and manage.
You’ll need to manage the entire review collection process from end-to-end, and you’ll be missing the trust factor that a brand name review collection platform brings to the table.
In the case of collecting testimonials to embed on-site, this can still be effective by some means.
Video testimonials from customers are extremely powerful and are one area that a lot of review collection tools miss out on.
Nonetheless, for general review collection, most review collection and reputation management platforms are ahead of the game.
With so many great SaaS platforms that can help monitor, collect and promote your reviews at reasonable prices, this is normally not a recommended practice for most businesses.
Third-party SaaS review collection companies are a great way to collect, manage and promote your reviews online.
The great thing that most reputation management platforms offer is the ability to have a full birds-eye view on all of your collected review content across the web.
You’ll also have the ability to take your reviews, and easily publish those on-site as a symbol of trust from potential customers. Additionally, most platforms mark-up these reviews for the purpose of listing your reviews organically in Google search engine results.
With pre-built surveys and ready-made email templates, you’ll have full flexibility over customizing the survey process right out of the box.
Most platforms also provide surveying capability via text message/SMS, which generally has a very high open and response rate across the board.
Overall, SMS marketing is an extremely effective tactic and is often overlooked.
SMS marketing beats email marketing with a 98% open rate and only 1% spam. (Mobile Marketing Watch)
There’s a ton of benefits of working with online review collection platforms, which will cut down on the time, cost and workload of creating your own in-house solution.
Collecting reviews with Google My Business falls under the previous sections, but it deserves its own section due to the importance of which Google reviews are having as time goes on.
Google is trying to become the dominant player in the review space, encouraging businesses to collect reviews using their own platform with the added benefit of ranking higher in the local map pack, as well as national SEO.
Collecting Google reviews should play a part in any local SEO campaign, and be part of the larger overall SEO strategy.
Google’s main objective here is to keep searches as long as they can on Google itself, so this move only makes sense.
The one negative thing about Google reviews, and many other third-party SaaS companies, is that anyone can jump on your page and leave a review.
These leaves the doors open for competitors to jump on your profile, and to beat down the doors with negatives sentiments. This is just another reason why online reputation management is so important in today’s world.
If you’ve not yet focused on collecting reviews for your business, and you’re actively trying to optimize for search, then you’ve found your starting point.
When a potential goes to Google and search for “your business reviews”, they’re generally in the purchase phase of the funnel.
They’re specifically searching to find other’s experiences with your product or service to make a buying decision whether to pull the trigger or not.
At this part of the funnel, you want to be putting your best foot forward and showing 5-star reviews collected across the web for your product or service.
There are many strategies you can put in place when it comes to reputation management SEO, including managing your reviews across the web and helping to make your reviews be more visible to potential customers.
Not only should you be collecting on one platform, but you’ll want to be collecting on multiple platforms (especially social media platforms relevant to your industry), for best results.
Google Reviews, Facebook, and Yelp are all a great starting point for your online review journey.
Additionally, consider a few other platforms that play an important role within your industry where potential customers search for your product or service.
Here are a few examples of some different industry review sites:
|SaaS||Capterra, G2 Crowd|
|Travel and tourism||TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Viator|
|Healthcare||WebMD, HealthLine, ZocDoc|
|Dentists||1-800 Dentist, CareDash|
|Finance||Credit Karma, Wallet|
|Real Estate||Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia|
|Dining||TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Zomato|
|Property Rentals||HomeAway, VRBO|
Not only can you collect reviews on these sites, but you can also optimize your profile on these platforms as well to drive additional traffic to your business.
If you’ve collected negative reviews from customers and/or competitors, the first step to cleaning this up is looking the problem right in the face.
Walmart definitely has some work to do when it comes to their online reputation management:
You don’t want your online reputation to look like that when you run a branded search for your business.
If bad reviews stem for a fault in your customer service, product and/or services, you need to rectify that issue first and foremost.
Second, once those issues are sorted out, you need to start collecting more reviews on those affected sites and collecting more reviews across different platforms.
This is an important SEO tactic where you can work to take back over the search rankings for your company name and branded search terms related to reviews and testimonials
Once you’re collecting more positive reviews across more platforms, to get these review sites to rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs), you should then start linking to them directly from your own site.
Embed a widget in the footer or on specific product pages.
Link out to these profiles where possible so you not only get eyes on those positive reviews, but to also help these pages rank higher in the SERPs for branded search terms.
Google review rich snippets are activated by marking up your reviews with schema so that Google can process and show these reviews in the organic search results:
There’s still a huge opportunity here as most businesses are still missing out on by not showing reviews in the organic search results.
9 times out of 10, if you run a search query you’ll see maybe 1 or perhaps 2 businesses showing stars in the organic search results.
Reviews shown in organic search results are proven to drive more clicks and more traffic when activated.
Now, as with most things, these reviews are shown at Google’s discretion. In order for a page to trigger showing stars, it needs to have some authority behind it.
Pages that have traffic and are well-linked have a much better chance of showing stars in Google’s search results.
It’s generally not possible to show reviews snippets for a home page, but you will often find them for product pages, service pages and other types of landing pages.
Additional to that, with a recent change to Google’s guidelines, Google no longer assigns review stars in SERPS for pages sharing rich snippets unless they are 3rd party review sites such as TripAdvisor or Facebook.
If your business is not yet set up to activate these, and you have collected reviews that qualify, you should focus on implementing this marketing strategy ASAP.
The “Reviews from the web” section of the Local Knowledge Panel are dynamic, and again, are dependant on Google’s choice to show these, or not.
Search for your brand name, and take a look at the Knowledge Panel on the right-hand side to see if this section is showing or not.
The Reviews from the web section has the ability to show up to three review sources at a time.
If you’re collecting reviews currently with a few different platforms, try expanding your reach outside of just TripAdvisor or other big platforms.
Get active collecting reviews on Facebook and other sites that are relevant in your industry.
Adding a review widget on-site for collecting reviews can also help this process when you are collecting reviews with that survey across multiple platforms.
If you set up your survey form allowing for users to leave their review across multiple platforms, you have both a better chance of collecting a variety of reviews, and ensuring that the user has an account on those platforms (where applicable) to leave a review.
If your business is only showing two review sites, and you want to show three, take a look on the second or third page of the branded search results and see if another review site is ranking there.
You can then link back to this review site from your site, to help push it to the first page of the SERPs.
Reviews are shown on paid ads using Google’s seller ratings ads extensions.
In order to show stars in PPC results, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
Today, having stars on your paid ad listings is less of a novelty, and are really required to compete against other paid ads in many industries.
The majority of businesses have been using the seller ratings ad extension for years, and that’s clear from running some different search results and checking out Google’s ad listings.
The one thing most businesses are not yet focusing on is achieving stars in organic results using review rich snippets.
When it comes down to it, you need to be collecting, managing and promoting your online reviews.
Online reputation management is essential in 2020 and will help drive trust, sales, and revenue for your business.
If you’re not yet focusing on these three items, it’s worth considering revisiting what reviews can do for your business, whether you’re a small business or an enterprise-sized organization.
Reputation management services can also go a long way in improving your brand image. Positive results won’t come overnight, but as with SEO, persistence will go a long way.
Questions about your online reputation and collecting reviews?
As always, feel free to shoot over an email and I’ll personally answer.
Justin is the Founder of Rock The Rankings and has over 13 years of experience in the realm of SEO across multiple business ventures and agencies.
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