The Importance of Online Reviews for Local Businesses
When you search for your small business online, which websites are listed in the results? Your website is probably listed first, but what other sites appear? Odds are its social media sites and online review sites, and all are hosting conversations about your business in the form of online reviews.
Understanding online reviews can allow you to monitor the conversation about your local business and engage with customers outside of your store.
Navigating the online review landscape
Google allows businesses to create Google+ pages featuring basic information, like address and website. Users are able to provide ratings and feedback that appear prominently in search results, even when searching Maps.
Yelp strives for honest reviews and discourages fake posts and soliciting reviews or edits. With 83 million unique mobile users, Yelp targets customers in their 20s-30s.
There may be other specialized review sites depending on your industry. For example, TripAdvisor is focused on leisure activities. Angie’s List is a paid subscription site featuring user reviews of local services, like plumbing and health care.
Just because you never set up these pages doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Most review sites provide a link for businesses to claim their page.
Interacting with reviewers
Hopefully your great service and products have already earned you rave reviews online. If you’re confident in your business’s customer service, it’s appropriate to ask customers to post a review online. Yelp discourages this, especially if the user will receive a reward, but a polite request posted in your store could help build your online reviews.
Review sites allow you to interact with customers like you would on social media, and building that community through reviews is just as important. Whether good or bad, these reviewers took the time to offer feedback on your business, and you can continue building that relationship by thanking them for their input.
If you see a negative review, address it. Respond as if the customer were in your store. Don’t be defensive or hostile, and don’t bribe them to edit the review. Acknowledge the experience with understanding, thank them for their feedback, and invite them back to see how you can improve.
Online reviews are increasingly becoming the first impression your business has on potential customers. Remain engaged in the conversation about your business across multiple sites to build a loyal community.
Copyright 2015 Viral Solutions LLC