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We are business owners so we know how important your online reputation is. We also know the power of online reviews that are written by your customers and clients. At some point, you’ve probably received an online review—whether good or bad—and that has most likely impacted your business one way or another.

When it comes to positive reviews and how high your business ranks in the local search results, there’s a distinct correlation between the two. In this article I am going to look at online reviews, how they can affect your local SEO, and what you can do to help improve your local rankings—even if someone leaves a bad review for your business!

Getting Started

Before you can manage your online reviews, you first need to set up a free Google My Business account. Click the blue “Manage Now” button and be sure to fill out your business information as accurately as possible—Google likes to see companies who add value above and beyond to their profiles.

Once you’ve filled out your business profile thoroughly, you can now manage your company information, local SEO, and respond to customer or client reviews. The entire set up process will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

How Google Views Positive Reviews

With regard to positive online reviews, Google has officially stated the following: “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews.”

Google wants you to provide excellent customer service—regardless of whether you had a good or bad review left. This means that you should respond to every review, no matter how bad or good.

By doing so, it’s showing Google that your business is a trustworthy organization. It stands to reason that if Google trusts your business, they will send more local SEO traffic to your website because you provide excellent customer service.

Harvard Business Review released the results of a study that showed that replying to customer reviews can impact your local SEO rankings. It looked at hotels who regularly responded to user reviews and found that their ratings increased on average by 0.12 stars and they saw a 12% increase in more user reviews.

Create a Response Strategy

Now that you have filled out your Google My Business profile, it’s time to create a review response strategy.

• How long will you take (in terms of time) to respond to reviews?
• How will you respond to both good and bad reviews?

If you have a lot of reviews that come in regularly, you can either have an employee monitor your account and respond according to your plan, or you can pay for an online tool that monitors your reviews and allows you to respond to them easily.

How to Respond to Good Reviews

Thank the customer for their good review and/or kind words. They went out of their way to leave a review for your business and you should thank them for their time and effort.

Leaving a generic or canned response such as “Thanks, we try our best to keep our customers happy!” isn’t authentic as taking something the user wrote in their review, repeating and expanding upon it. It shows that you’re putting in an authentic effort.

Close your response with a few words or sentences that will persuade them to return. You can thank them for their continued business or let them know about an upcoming sale, new product, or service they might like.

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

You shouldn’t look at bad reviews as a negative thing unless it’s a troll. Before you respond, take a few minutes to breathe and calm yourself. If you respond emotionally, the tone of your writing will show through, and that will leave a negative impression upon those who read it—even if you don’t say anything bad in response.

Once you have a clear head, re-read the review and try to include as many of the following as you can:

Apologize – Even if they were wrong, apologize. Otherwise, you stand to fan the proverbial flames and could cause them to leave another negative online review. Ask them for constructive feedback and how you can improve moving forward.

Keep your response short – Avoid having a “back and forth” with an angry customer online. There’s no need to air your dirty laundry for all to see. Apologize and attempt to take the conversation offline—such as a phone call or email. Then try to resolve in their favor.

Be polite – Online reviews are a permanent record of how your company deals with customer service. You want to put your best foot forward and show future potential customers how you deal with people in situations that may go awry. It will do wonders to instill trust in those who are still researching if they want to do business with you—or not.

Internet Marketing Help

If your business needs help with local SEO or online reputation management, give us a call today at (512) 993-9993. At Adapting Online, we’ve helped countless regional and national businesses with their website and marketing needs. We have the experience, chops, and know-how to help you attract the right kinds of customers and improve your online rankings!

Monica Thomason, Web Marketing Specialist

Monica Thomason has been involved in all aspects of internet marketing for over 15 years. She loves all things internet and truly appreciates what the internet can do for businesses. Whether you need help with content and SEO, ecommerce optimization, social media or reputation management she would love to help you!

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