In this episode of the I’ve Heard That podcast on the Hurrdat Media Network, host Max is joined by Local Search Director Alexi English to talk about how getting reviews and ratings on local business platforms can attract new customers.
Why Do Potential Customers Care about Reviews?
English: From the customer’s perspective, that’s where they’re going to go first. If your business doesn’t have a high star rating on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or any other platform, have multiple reviews, or at least recent reviews, then the customer will probably just skip over you.
Max: The reason it’s important to customers that you have these reviews is because the next step is to take action. Either they’re going to give the business a call, book an appointment, or visit their website, so these reviews have the power to influence the click-through rate.
English: Yes, exactly! So if you don’t have a lot of reviews or recent reviews, you won’t be getting those clicks. Those clicks can not only help you get more customers but also help you show up in the search results more often.
What are Common Ranking Factors?
English: There are a lot of things that go into your ranking factor, including the number of reviews, your overall star rating, recency of your listing and reviews, keywords, and the diversity of reviews. Google wants to trust your business as much as a potential customer wants to trust your business. And from that, Google will do everything to not show searchers any businesses that aren’t recommended by its customers.
What’s the Best Review Strategy?
Max: First, it’s important to know that when trying to get reviews, it’s against many guidelines to do a giveaway or to pay people for their reviews. Yelp will absolutely remove them if they suspect that this is happening.
English: Yelp will definitely hide reviews, and paying for reviews is one of the reasons why. If they think it’s a fake profile or someone hasn’t left a review before, that seems odd. So, unfortunately, Yelp may remove them to stop inauthentic reviews.
Max: It’s also important for business owners to understand that their customers’ first instinct is to leave a review if they receive bad service or a poor product. You will probably get the best of the best or the worst of the worst when it comes to reviews. The best review strategy is to run a business that you would want to do business with so it’s natural for customers to want to go and leave good reviews about the work you’re doing. And it also matters how businesses respond to negative reviews. To combat negative reviews, you want new, frequent, and relevant reviews to push down that negative one so it’s not the first that a new customer would see.
What Do We Do Once We Get Reviews?
English: You need to respond to all of them whether they’re positive or negative. Sometimes businesses don’t respond to any of their reviews. Or a lot of times they think you should just respond to the negative reviews, but you also need to say “thank you” to those that have rated you well. For a positive review, you can just say, “Thank you for the positive review. We hope you come back soon!” or “Thank you for sharing your experience and feedback.” It can be as simple as that. For negative reviews, it’s important to recognize the issue the customer had, and don’t blame them or get defensive on a public forum. Take responsibility even if you don’t think you did anything wrong. And if you don’t think your business is in the wrong, acknowledge what the customer said and then give them an opportunity to take it offline.
Max: If you don’t know, when you respond to a review, the poster gets a notification of your reply in their account, but it’s also posted publicly under the initial review. There’s always a possibility that the customer will edit their review after a manager has made the problem right. Or they may order from you again thinking it was a one-time issue. Even if they don’t, as a searcher, you can see that a business attempted to reach out and fix the issue when responding to negative reviews, and that also leaves an impression on future customers.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to I’ve Heard That, the podcast from Hurrdat Marketing that discusses digital marketing trends, tips and more.
Hi everyone. Welcome back. It’s Megan for season three. I’m so excited. I have Alexi here today. Welcome back Alexi.
And today we’re covering reviews and review marketing, and they’re so important.
When I’m searching for a business to do business with, and I have to choose… I know we think of restaurants, if they don’t have 5 stars, you’re like running scared, I’m [crosstalk 00:00:37] scrolling past. But it matters for so many other business besides restaurants. Why do potential customers care about reviews?
I think there are many reasons. I just… I know for me, anything I’m doing I’m going to get my nails done. Or if I want a new hair person, that’s where I will go first. I will go look at reviews. And if you don’t have a high star rating, or even if you don’t have a lot of reviews, I’ll probably just skip you.
Or recent reviews. I know sometimes I’ve looked at businesses and I’m like, oh wow. That’s great. And I’m like, oh, two years ago. Is that how you… No one said anything since, that makes me a little weary too.
It’s super important to me. It’s big for customers.
I think even touching on that too, the reason it’s big for customers is as you mentioned, as you read them, the next step is to take action, to book an appointment or give them a call or click through to their website. These reviews have the power to influence that click through rate. Right?
Yes. If you don’t have a lot of reviews and you don’t have good reviews, you’re not even going to get any clicks and those clicks will not only help you get new customers, but help you show up in the search results.
Also besides those businesses, you just mentioned, home services. They’re huge for home services.
Because you don’t… If you’re getting… Inviting someone into your home, you want to trust that other customers have trusted them as well.
There’s a stranger that’s going to show up sometime between noon and 2:00 and they’re going to be there, and a lot of times home service jobs, if you think of a roofing contractor, they’re huge jobs. You want to see really positive, recent, relevant reviews.
Definitely. I feel like even for home services, it might be more important than a restaurant or any other type of businesses that I’ve talked about.
Definitely. More than customers care about reviews. Of course, we care about reviews, but what… Tell me about Google and why does Google care about reviews?
They’re a lot of reasons Google cares about reviews, but I think the biggest thing is Google wants to trust your business, just as much as the customer wants to trust your business. Google doesn’t want to give potential customers, businesses that don’t have a lot of ratings, and don’t have a high star rating, and don’t have a lot of reviews, and don’t have good reviews. Trust is huge with Google and reviews are a big thing for that.
They don’t want to point searchers in the wrong direction. They don’t want to make them unhappy because why would they keep coming back to Google if it’s giving them bad suggestions
Definitely. It’s a huge ranking factor. And I think there are a lot of things that go into that ranking factor.
Break it down.
Quantity of reviews, like we said, you want to get a lot of reviews, obviously. That’s first thing I look at. If you have two reviews, I’m probably not going to look at your business. High star rating, probably at least above a 4 star. I think that’s super important.
I feel if it’s 3.5 stars even it’s looking like it’s 3 stars. And that makes me cringe a little bit, because probably someone in their industry or nearby has 4 stars or has 5 stars. Like we said, with restaurants, for example, it’s so competitive. If you have a 4 star rating, you might not even be selected.
I feel like with restaurants, they probably get the most amount of reviews. If you have a 3 star rating, average rating, you’re probably getting a lot of negative reviews.
And I would caution businesses from getting too hung up. I agree with you on that for restaurants. Caution businesses from getting too hung up on getting a negative review.
Negative really bad.
I’ve seen some that are really bad.
It just says what it is.
It is, and it’s someone’s experience. I know we’ve had business owners call us and say, “Hey, can you get rid of this? They actually didn’t do business with me.” If they called your business and your receptionist was rude, that’s still an experience with your business. They have… They’re within guidelines to be able to leave a review about their experience. I would just say, how we can help combat negative reviews is by getting new, frequent, relevant reviews to help push down that negative review from being the most recent review that someone would see.
Definitely. And I also think negative reviews, they’re bad, but they could help your business. They can help you learn what you’re doing wrong and how you can improve that in the future.
Oh absolutely. There’s so much context and so much… It’s an insight into your customer’s experience. You can take that and you’re right, leverage it and adapt your business.
And sometimes we’ve seen customers giving positive and negative feedback in a review. They’re like, “Hey, I love this, but the wait was too long.” Even if it’s a high star rating, it’s super important to read into the context of what the actual customer’s saying.
Sorry. We were talking about ranking. Google’s looking at quantity of the reviews, the rating…
Yes. Diversity of reviews. Obviously Google is huge, but you don’t just want reviews on Google. Facebook, Yelp. Yelp is huge for restaurants, all kinds of businesses.
And actually in the Google, my business listing they’ve been pulling in a little link if you’ve seen it before to Facebook reviews, to Yelp reviews, to OpenTable reviews. They’re… They have other partners and or their crawlers, they’re pulling them over and they’ll display your star rating there [crosstalk 00:06:10]
I was going to say, I believe it says, shows your rating.
They’ll be like Facebook, 2.5 and you have a 5 star on Google.
You don’t want to neglect those at all.
Absolutely not. What other factors actually, before we dive into that?
You touched on this a little bit, but your recency of your reviews. You don’t want 10 reviews that are from a year ago.
And Google takes that… I feel like into account too. It’ll be like, “Hey, you just got 10 new reviews and you haven’t done anything for two years.” And then it won’t… It may filter out some of those reviews it’ll feel like something’s not right with this. It’ll feel spammy to Google. We caution businesses against doing give away. One, you are not supposed to do a giveaway at all anyways, but from doing campaigns where you’re like, okay servers ask five people today. And then all of a sudden there’s this huge influx of reviews.
That looks sketch.
It does, it looks so sketchy to Google. They’re like, hey, you didn’t have any reviews. And now you have 50 why? And then it’s starts removing them. And unfortunately, one you’re not… It’s a and guidelines to do a giveaway or to pay people for their review. Yelp will absolutely read [crosstalk 00:07:24].
I was going to say Yelp, like hides reviews and I think that’s one of the reasons if they think it’s a fake profile or not someone that has left reviews before, sometimes they think it’s weird.
If it’s their first review, sometimes it can seem too fishy to-
Which [crosstalk 00:07:41] is unfortunate but…
That’s what happens. And as people start using Google more to… For reviews, once I started using… Reading more reviews, I’m like, oh, I’ll do my sh… Do my bar and leave reviews, especially when you have a great experience. And I suppose on the other end of this spectrum, especially when you have a really bad experience as well, you want to warn people.
I feel like that’s more… I feel like I need to leave more positive reviews. Because I feel like your first instinct is to leave a negative review if you’re upset.
It’s really bad. Business owners please understand that, that’s probably what you’re our customers are doing. You’re going to get the best of the best and you’re probably going to get the worst of the worst.
[crosstalk 00:08:25] and get a lot of in between.
The best review strategy is to run a business that you would want to do business with. People have this great experience since that you’re learning and growing and it’s natural for customers to want to go and leave a great review.
Sorry. I had one more thing with the recency with reviews. If Google’s seeing that recently people have been leaving reviews. They’re like, oh, people are interacting with your listing.
They’re going to want to show that listing more.
They’re going to say, hey, this is a happening place. This is a great place that people keep having great experiences here. Let’s show it in the results. Absolutely.
And any other factors?
Yeah. This is something that has become more prominent recently and it’s gone up in the ranking factors, but keywords in reviews.
Definitely when you search, say for dentist or if you’re like tooth extraction, it’s going to specifically, you’re [crosstalk 00:09:28] waiting for a dentist, but you’re looking to… If you type that in a keyword and that’s in a review, it’s going to pull up that review and bold it so that you can see like, hey, these reviews might be relevant to exactly what you’re searching for. The keywords in the reviews are playing into the ranking algorithm. But they’re also really directly influencing that click through rate or that interaction, that engagement with the listing because Google’s pulling out the reviews that have those keywords or those keyword strings in the review content.
Definitely. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Google says “this business mentions” and then the keyword and that can come from reviews sometimes.
That’s super important.
In case of getting reviews, is half the battle. What do we do when we get them?
You need to respond to all of them. All Positive and negative.
Yes. You heard that. Right.
And I feel like I’ve said this so many times, but sometimes businesses think you should just respond or sometimes they don’t respond to any of them.
That seems horrible. It’s like, are you open?
But a lot of times I just respond to the negative ones and I feel like you need to just say thank you to the ones that I left you a positive review.
Even if there’s… Even if it’s just a 5 star rating.
Sometimes business owners struggle. They’re like, well, what am I supposed to say? Give us a few examples. What are some things you can say to positive and negative reviews?
For a positive review, you can just say, hey, thank you for leaving your review. We hope you come back soon. It could be as simple as that.
Or thanks for sharing your experience.
Thank you for sharing your experience. Thank you for sharing your feedback. Just anything like that. I think with a negative, it’s important to recognize the issue that customer had and don’t blame them or get defensive or anything like that.
Try to argue your point?
On a public forum?
Yeah. Basically take responsibility even if maybe you don’t think you did anything wrong and if you don’t think you did something wrong, acknowledge what the customer said and then take it offline. And ask them if they want [crosstalk 00:11:33] give them the
opportunity to take it offline.
Absolutely. And I think that’s… What’s super important for others beside… And in case you don’t know, when you reply to reviews, the reviewer gets that response within their account as well as it’s posted publicly from the business under the review. It’s not only important to acknowledge that less favorable, poor experience and maybe correct it. Maybe turn it into a positive experience for that person. Maybe they go back and leave you a positive review. I’ve read edited reviews where they’re like, this was terrible, but the owner contacted me and made it right. That could happen if-
Or they made us come… They may come back again. If [crosstalk 00:12:12] you’re okay. Maybe this is just a mistake [crosstalk 00:12:14] a one time thing.
But even if they don’t as a searcher, I’m still reading those reviews. I’m like, oh wow. That business owner reached out. They tried to fix it. And believe me as a searcher too, we know the crazies when they happen. We’re like that person… That review sounds crazy. Reading and you keep reading the next. You’re taking in all cumulatively. And that’s why Google’s trying to show you a variety.
And I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m in it all the time, but I definitely notice when business owners are responding to reviews and I think that’s super cool. Definitely do that.
Do your part business owners show your customers you’re sharing feedback with you?
This sounds like a huge undertaking for businesses. You can do it my manually. You can do it through the Google platform.
Just log into [crosstalk 00:12:56] can go into dashboard.
And then you got to log into Facebook, and then you got to log into Yelp, and then you got to log into OpenTable. Tell me about a few tools that business owners can use and how do they work? What do they help with?
There are a few there’s Yext, Podium and then BirdEye all great. We use BirdEye and it’s a really great way to respond to all your reviews within one dashboard. You don’t have to go to each plat… Or to GMB, to Facebook, to Yelp, to respond. You can do it all at once in the same dashboard and it’s really helpful.
[crosstalk 00:13:29] is used over the years we’ve used different tools. We’ve tried different tools.
Those are just a few of some of the core staple ones, but there’s other ones out there that are still great. And it’s just more about finding what the need is for your business.
Or if it’s for your business?
Yeah. A restaurant you’re getting a high volume of reviews and you have to be able to handle that high volume. Maybe you need multiple users on different days, responding to reviews versus a contractor who maybe has their technician respond to their reviews or their districts or whatever, respond to reviews or a small business owner that’s a retailer. They’re like, hey, I can do this. I just need one place. And they only need one login and there’s a tool for that too. The great thing about the platforms is that they bring them all into one place. And you don’t [crosstalk 00:14:12] have to go and log in to all these separate accounts.
I definitely think if you’re looking to respond to reviews, you should just definitely take advantage of a review platform to do that.
And not only aggregating it. The next step too, is once they got a handle on that they… Some of these tools have a send or SMS feature where you can either email your customers, say you had a CRM or you have a point of sale that you’re collecting their email. You can drop it or upload it into these platforms and say, hey, two days after they’ve checked out or two days after their haircut let’s email them and say, how was your service? I know I got my haircut, we get our haircut at the same place.
And they email, or they text me this morning and they were like, how was your experience? Do you want to leave a review? And [crosstalk 00:15:00] that’s awesome. I got it from a text. Some of these platforms it’s not someone there just texting me. It’s obviously a tool. It’s great that you can use these tools that you may already have like the pipeline tool, your CRM or your POS or… And you can send those reviews or send those emails to ask for a review or ask about their experience or those text messages. Makes it super easy.
If you’re struggling to get reviews, maybe consider this as an option.
I guess the last thing we like about these tools too is reporting. Because then it’s… Since it’s all in one dashboard, you can see how many emails were sent, how many were opened, how many new reviews did we get, what’s the change from month to month. Like, hey, last month was a really negative month. Oh, it’s because that location just opened and we can see the sentiment by [crosstalk 00:15:52] location too we’re like, hey, that location’s struggling and they keep mentioning manager Sherry with negative sentiment. Maybe we need to have some training with her or something. You can see sentiment, by location, by keyword, by time like window. It’s really great for reporting purposes as well.
Like I said, it’s not always bad to get a negative review and that would be a great way to track how your business is doing for certain categories.
Thanks for sharing all of this helpful information about why reviews are important and how business owners can get started, because really it’s something that you can’t ignore.
Not at all.
I think one of the other things that we would want to make sure to touch on is this is one of the most easy ways to influence your ranking, because you already probably have tackled your site. You probably already claimed your GMB listing and optimized it. A lot of other factors you can’t do anything about, you’re not going to relocate your business like proximity we’ve talked about in previous episodes.
This is something you can control.
This is something you can control. If you have a bad rating or no reviews, get out there and start getting those reviews and take control and respond to them.
Hustle, go get them.
Because Google’s going to say, that’s hard to fake. And because of their filters getting more stringent, to get rid of spammy reviews and things. It’s harder to fake. Google feels that it’s more relevant and heavily weighted in the algorithm.
And that’s probably why it’s gone up in the ranking factors as of recent.
Awesome. Thanks for joining us, Alexi. It’s always a pleasure having you here. Make sure you like, rate and subscribe to our podcast. We drop episodes twice a month. Subscribe and get our latest episode every other Wednesday.
Speaker 1 (17:37):
I’ve Heard That is a part of the Hurrdat Media network. For more information, follow her at on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, or visit hurrdatmarketing.com
Speaker 4 (17:46):
A Hurrdat Media production.