Honest customer reviews online can put your business on top or doom you to the bottom.
91% of customers read online reviews of your business before they do business with you according to BrightLocal.
That’s some telling data on how important reviews are online for your business.
Not only are customers seeking out your business reviews but they also find you based on your good reviews.
Yes, 63% of customers use a search engine to find online reviews of companies rather than going directly to the review website according to BrightLocal.
That means customers are likely to find your business because of reviews which is why managing your online reviews is important.
Before you venture into getting honest customer reviews online for your business, you need to be prepared.
What you need to do before getting honest customer reviews online
Before you ever think about getting reviews online there’s one thing you shouldn’t skip.
Make sure your profile is completely filled out for any site you want to get reviews on.Before you think about reviews set up your profiles completely and professionally. Click To Tweet
You want to have pictures on the profile, all information correct, and each section complete with valuable information
Once you’re all set up on the review site be sure you’re going about getting reviews in the correct way.
Are you supposed to ask for reviews?
Different review sites say different things.
You’ll find very different recommendations on how to go about getting reviews from both Yelp and Google My Business.
Yelp says absolutely don’t ask for reviews.
There’s even an entire help page on Yelp which tells you how you should not get reviews.
They point out things you shouldn’t do such as:
- Ask customers, email list, friends, family, or pretty much anyone to review your business.
- Have a staff competition to see who can get the most positive reviews (really!?)
- Run surveys for customers and ask for reviews based on their positive feedback.
- Offer freebies, discounts, or payments in exchange for positive reviews.
In other words, don’t ask. Yelp recommends simply making it known that you’re on Yelp and what people think of you there.
A Yelp icon (available from Yelp) can make it known you’re there and customers can review you.
This can spur people to also share their experience without actually selectively asking.
Yelp has a lot of documentation on how to do reviews properly. I recommend reviewing their DOs and DON’Ts of Yelp for Business Owners support document.
Their advice is to not cherry pick only those customers you think had a good review. It may be OK to target everyone equally as long as you do not encourage a specific review.
There’s also some pretty good incentive NOT to pay for reviews in case the ethical negativities of it aren’t enough. There can be many issues created by incentivising positive reviews. So much so that the FTC has written a blog post about it.
If you have a physical shop, there’s a sticker you can put on your shop door if you’ve achieved Yelp high rating success.
Have you seen them?
It’s a good reminder to customers to leave a review.
Google My Business
There’s a little more leniency on the recommendations coming from Google on how to get honest customer reviews online.
When I say a little more leniency what I really mean is it’s the polar opposite of Yelp.
The Google My Business document covering leaving reviews says you should:
- Remind visitors to leave reviews and let them know how easy it is to do so.
- Reply to reviews to encourage an open dialog and get more reviews.
- Verify your profile to make sure you’re able to reply to reviews.
That’s a bit refreshing to hear after reading Yelp’s strict guidelines on getting reviews.
Of course, you’ll still want to follow the good advice (and should be common ethical advice) to not bribe people to leave you positive reviews.
If you have to pay for good reviews then you’re not doing something right.
How do you get reviews?
For Google My Business it’s pretty easy.
I covered getting reviews in a whole section of the ultimate guide to setting up a successful Google Business Profile.
Download this Google My Business review request email template to make it easy to ask past customers for reviews.
With Yelp you can make it known that you’re on Yelp but they recommend not asking for reviews.
That means you can:
- Tell customers you’re on Yelp in your email signature.
- Put a badge on your web page that shows how much people love you on Yelp.
- Respond to reviews positive or negative.
- Embed specific reviews on your website.
You can get a badge for your website when you’re logged into your Yelp business profile:
There is a slight loophole in asking for reviews on Yelp though. Yelp just doesn’t want you being selective at getting reviews because it skews the results.
If you ask for reviews from all your customers and you ask for an honest review then you’re not skewing the results.
Just be sure you emphasize you’re looking for an honest review rather than a positive one and of course give them an out.
You can download the Yelp review request email template to make it easier to ask for honest reviews for your business.
Get reviews that won’t get filtered
Yes, many online review sites have filters that remove reviews from your profile if they’re deemed no good.
Yelp is the most common place to have reviews removed by filters.
What do Yelp reviews that aren’t recommended look like?
Yelp reviews that aren’t recommended are hidden from view.
You can find a link at the bottom of your current reviews that looks like this:
These reviews will show up if people click on that link but they don’t factor into your overall rating on Yelp.
If you have only reviews that are hidden, your profile appears with no reviews at all.
How to help get reviews that don’t get filtered
There are some things you can do to ensure reviews from your customers won’t get filtered out.
Some of them you have no power over but they will give you an idea of which review may get filtered. The best you can do is try to avoid it in the future.
The most common reasons to get filtered are:
- Customers Yelp profile is new with no friends or other reviews.
- A short review that doesn’t helpfully explain the customer’s experience.
- A review that’s all praise but lacks details.
No single item from this list will guarantee a filtered review but a combination of a few of them will.Quality reviews online will help ensure they don't get caught up in filters and removed. Click To Tweet
If your customer’s profile is moderately established and writes a substantial review explaining their experience in details then you won’t have a problem passing the review filters.
Avoid “did a good job” reviews or one to two short sentence reviews. Anything more substantial and they should pass filters.
Honest customer reviews online are an essential part of your online presence. They’ll provide social proof and make your online presence more professional.
Your professional online presence
Your business relies on making a good first impression to potential customers.
Customers find companies online. In fact, 69% of consumers search for a local business at least 6 times per year according to BrightLocal.
That means your business needs to be online and with a professional online presence. Everywhere online.
There are many local business directories where your business can be located and they’re used by consumers. We can make it easy for you to be available to consumers everywhere by managing your local directory listings.
An online presence consultation will also help give you some ideas on how your business can grow each month.