If you are a small business, you owe it to yourself to learn what "local SEO" means. The phrase is essentially a way of asking: how do I show up in the Google 3-pack when someone searches for say, "best dentists in Springfield, Illinois"?
A Google 3-pack looks like the image below:
There are several factors that determine whether you appear in the 3-pack. In this article, we are going to focus on one of them: online reviews, a.k.a. reputation management.
See those stars in the image. Captures your attention, don't they? Per Moz, reviews contribute as much as 13% weightage to local SEO rankings. What's more, this weightage has increased in the latest Google search update.
Reviews are a low hanging fruit for businesses, because you have already done the hard work of delighting the customer. All you got to do is ask for a review. Sounds simple, right? Yet, this seems to be a blind spot for most businesses! When was the last time you got a request for a review from your dentist, optometrist or day care center?
At ReferralYogi, we believe that it should be easy for businesses to manage their online reputation. So, we felt like sharing the details of our engagement with Evibe.in. They are a leading event planning company that helps people plan any event within minutes. They already had excellent reviews from 300+ customers. But there was scope to do more, since their current reviews represented only a fraction of their happy customer base. We worked with their CEO, Anjaneyulu Reddy, to design an engagement plan to reach out to old customers who hadn't given a review yet. The results & learnings are reproduced below:
- The business received a nearly 20% boost in review count
- The overall rating moved from 4.5 to 4.6
- There were several repeat reviewers, who edited their old reviews by adding more details/photos. Richness of a review helped in local SEO
- Several reviewers were Local Guides, which was helpful because Google places a higher emphasis on reviewer authority
- The targeted review count & rating boost were accomplished
- Delight your customers! They are the bedrock of your online reputation
- Setup a Google My Business account, if you haven't done so already
- Adhere to Google Review Policies when asking for reviews
Key success factors
- Customers were reached via their respective Customer Success Managers. These are individuals whom the customers worked with & hence far more likely to respond to
- Reminders were scheduled, which would auto-cutoff upon engagement detection. Nearly 50% of the reviews were the result of reminders
- Noon - 3 PM seems to be the best time to reach customers. Perhaps, the post lunch lull makes it more likely for people to do easy tasks
- Automated thank you emails were sent. In addition, reviews with detailed comments were responded to via Google My Business as well. This serves the following purposes:
- Makes the reviewer feel that her voice has been heard
- Communicates to future customers that the business cares
- Google ranks the reviews based on "Most relevant" by default. Relevancy is influenced by the "completeness of review", "response from the business", upvotes etc
Conclusion & Evolution
Its worthwhile to catch up with old customers to request reviews. But once completed, its highly recommended to transition to an automated process for doing so at the point of sale/service or within a short window thereafter. This way, you not only capture customer sentiment while its still fresh in their memory, but also improve response rates.