Best Practices for Online Review Sites

Local SEO best practicesCustomer reviews can be a powerful tool for businesses of every sort. As a consumer, when you are considering a new restaurant or looking to purchase a new product you may look at reviews to help you make your choice. People are very social as a general rule and tend to put a lot of credibility in feedback that is provided by other consumers rather than claims offered by the business itself. Stats indicate that nearly 75% of today’s consumers trust online reviews at least as much as receiving a personal recommendation.  Studies also indicate that over 90% of those who conduct an online research which includes perusing business review sites end up purchasing from the businesses they find. However, nearly 90% of the small businesses which participated in surveys indicate that they do not actively use consumer review sites. Reviews can be very beneficial when they are completed by consumers.

Obtaining Reviews

For those businesses who have not been checking in on their review sites there is a big chance that consumers haven’t been leaving a lot of reviews about your business. If a business does find that they are not being reviewed by consumers, the next question is how to obtain legitimate reviews from consumers. It is important that the reviews be from consumers and not purchased or contain fake information. Consumers are getting very adept at identifying legitimate reviews and illegitimate reviews. There is a lot of available advice for businesses to receive reviews. Some try to throw a reminder in with every transaction. However, review sites do not approve of businesses who solicit their own reviews. That’s because it’s best to get unbiased reviews that are generated based on the customer’s choice. Solicited reviews can come off as fake which not only wards off other consumers, but can also cause consumers to doubt the trustworthiness and reputation of a business. There are three effective ways to obtain reviews without pressing consumers for more.

  • Use Indirect Reminders – Yelp has a signage posted on Flickr that can be downloaded and printed. This can be used in a brick and mortar establishment and placed where consumers can see it such as by the door, or the cash register. Businesses can also post links to review sites on their websites.
  • Use the Reviews You do Have – Businesses can create a page on their website which is dedicated to “testimonials.” Choose the best reviews to showcase on this page. Reviews can also be quoted on email newsletters or other business correspondence.
  • Continue Being the Best in Your Niche – Consumers who have great experiences with a business will want to share that experience with other consumers. By continuing to provide great services and products reviews will begin to occur organically. It can take some time to get the reviews rolling in, but they will start; and once they start they will continue 

How to Respond to Positive Reviews

So, what should be done with reviews once they start showing up on the sites? Positive reviews are of course a lot easier to respond to. This is because it’s easy to say, “thank you.” Some of the review sites offer an option for business owners to respond to consumers either privately or publicly. When you get numerous reviews it can be overwhelming to answer every review, but interacting with consumers can prove to be effective at obtaining other clients or patrons. Just keep responses to positive reviews consumer focused and brief.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

It can be very discouraging to read a negative review about your own business. But it is in the business’ power to turn it into a positive experience. It is also essential in order to help protect the reputation of the company. Always acknowledge negative reviews and apologize – even if you were not in the wrong. Be polite, brief and positive. If there is something that went wrong on the business end, explain how the problem will be addressed. After you have made a public response to a negative comment, then contact the consumer privately to suggest a solution. You may offer them a discount on future purchases, an exchange or a replacement for instance. Then if the problem is the fault of the business, take the necessary steps to prevent it from occurring again in the future. Finding a negative review can help identify areas in a business that need to be addressed.

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