Why Getting Online Reviews is More Important Than Ever
92 percent of consumers read online reviews before selecting a business, writes BrightLocal's Sherry Bonelli.
Business owners often wonder if online reviews about their business really matter. They do — for a number of reasons. According to BrightLocal, 92 percent of consumers read online reviews. So if that many people are reading online reviews before they select a business, product, or service, then every business owner needs to have a solid strategy for how they can get more online reviews from their customers or clients.
Additionally, when you go online and search for almost anything these days, you see stars — literally! Search engines typically pull review sites and online business directories into the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs.) These listings openly show online review ratings about local SMBs for all to see.
Whether you’re a business owner or a digital marketing agency working with SMB clients, you simply can’t hide from reviews and online reputation any more. And now Google has given us an even stronger incentive to give reputation marketing and online reviews a try.
New Changes to Google’s Knowledge Panel
Google’s Knowledge Panel is the box that often appears to the right of search results. Knowledge Panels show more detailed information about a business and take up a significant portion of the screen. Until now, Google just displayed a business’ Google Reviews in their Knowledge Panel.
But Google recently began pulling in “Reviews from the web.” So now, in addition to highlighting Google Reviews, Google is also showing reviews from other third-party review sites, like Yelp, Foursquare, and others, into a business’ Knowledge Panel. This is a game changer because Google is broadening the number and where reviews come from directly into search results. Businesses can no longer hide from reviews, because these reviews are put front-and-center every time a consumer searches for a business.
Any website using Schema markup for reviews is eligible to be included in these third-party listings on their Knowledge Panel. (Since Schema and markup language is a beast in and of itself, you’ll want to check out Schema.org for more information on how you can create review Schema markup for your site.)
How to Get Customers to Write Online Reviews
So how do you get customers to leave reviews for your business? Just ask! Simply ask customers for online reviews after they’ve done business with you. It can be as simple as, “We’re so happy you visited us today. Would you be able to write an online review for us so we know how we did today?” (and then be prepared to hand them a card with several DIRECT links to your preferred review site pages.)
Note: If you make a customer go out on their own and try and find your page on a review site, the chances of them actually leaving a review are minimal at best. Make it easy for them to leave the review. Simple means more reviews.
Another way is through email. If you have your customer’s email address, you can also send them a polite email thanking them for their business and asking for feedback, again providing them with a list that link directly to your business’ page on the review sites you want them to leave a review on.
When asked, many people are happy to give you their feedback.
Start Getting Online Reviews Today
The industry has been saying for a while now that online reviews matter — to consumers AND the search engines. This new development of Google adding in third-party reviews into their SERPs is a good sign that reviews matter much more than many originally thought. It’s time to get going with your online review strategy — if you haven’t already.
**Sherry Bonelli is the Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal. She leads BrightLocal’s Research & Content programs and champions the needs of their SEO Agency and SMB customers. Having worked in digital marketing since 1998, Sherry has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing along with numerous digital marketing certifications. In her “spare” time she is a volunteer mentor for the SCORE East Central Iowa Chapter where she coaches small businesses on how to use digital marketing effectively. Sherry frequently gives workshops and speeches on digital marketing topics to local business owners. She can be reached via email at email@example.com. To find out more information about BrightLocal, visit www.brightlocal.com.