Strategies to ramp up your SEO to produce more foot traffic and site visits.
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When someone 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 business owner, especially those with brick and mortar stores.
Marketing data accumulated by Hubspot reveals that 28 percent of searches for products “nearby” or “near me” lead directly to a purchase. An incredible 72 percent 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 SEO (especially locally) is by acquiring more Google reviews.
Related: 7 Reasons Why SEO Matters for Every Startup
Of course, Google reviews don’t just help you show up in search results — they also have a direct impact on customer decision-making. A 2019 survey by BrightLocal found that “91 percent of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations,” with over half not using businesses with less than 4-star ratings.
Needless to say, gaining positive Google reviews could easily make or break your business. Here are some strategies to get some momentum.
1. Ask your customers how you’re doing.
According to Search Engine Land, 70 percent of customers are willing to leave an online review if you ask them. Sounds easy, right? However, if you want to get reviews left on your Google My Business account, you need to ask at the right time — and in the right way.
“Business owners should be mindful of ways they can ask for reviews both in-person and online,” Gregory Ortiz, founder of Digital Rooftop explained to me in a recent email.
“Many companies find success in sending a followup email shortly after the product was delivered or the service was completed. But you could also make the ask while a customer is in-store by working the request into your conversation. If they’ve had a positive experience, they will be far more likely to respond well to your request.”
Business owners should use multiple touch points to ask customers for reviews, but be cautious to not come across as annoying or overbearing. Whether in an email, a phone call or even an app, make sure your request is short and polite. Your request will be even more appealing when you explain how feedback helps you improve your services.
2. Make it easy to leave a review.
Customers can sometimes feel that leaving a review is too much effort — so don’t be afraid to simplify things for them. Quickly demonstrating how to leave a review can go a long way in encouraging customers to give feedback.
When making your requests, remind customers that reviews can be only one or two sentences, or even just include a star rating. Of course, specific feedback will always be best for SEO rankings and your own evaluation of your performance.
Sometimes, easy access to the review link can make all the difference. Copying the URL from your Google listing’s “Write a Review” button and embedding the link when you send an email request will further simplify things for your customers, making it far more likely that they will actually do so.
Related: How to Protect Your Website from Negative SEO
You could even incorporate this URL link in your email signature, so it is automatically present as a call to action each time you message a customer or vendor. With more reviews, your brand becomes more prominent and more likely to appear in local searches.
3. Be responsive to your customers.
While increasing your number of reviews is a good start for enhancing your local SEO, Google will further boost your brand if you are engaging with your customers.
Google My Business’s support section actively encourages brand managers to engage with customer reviews, stating: “Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.”
You can’t control what customers say about your business, but you can control how you respond. This is especially important when dealing with inevitable negative reviews. A proactive, non-defensive response to a negative review can demonstrate your commitment to making things right for your customers.
Related: 7 Best SEO Tools to Help You Rank Higher in Google
When done right, you can improve your services and the reviews themselves. A study by Mack Collier found that of customers who received a response to their negative review, 33 percent changed their review to be more positive, while another 34 percent deleted their negative review entirely. The right response can completely alter someone’s perception of your business!
A study published by the Harvard Business Review further found that responding to reviews can increase both the number of reviews and a brand’s overall rating. The study, which focused on hotels, noted a 12 percent increase in reviews and a 0.12 star rating increase when the hotels actively responded to customer reviews.
Getting customers to leave Google reviews for your business will require a continual effort on your part — but it is well worth the investment. As you generate more reviews, you will be able to create greater trust with flesh-and-blood customers and Google itself, helping drive new business to your site.