Online Reviews: One Pillar of Success in 2018
2017 has seen an enormous shift in how Google and other search engines factor in ratings and reviews. Online reviews which were once the online equivalent of “word of mouth” have become much more. The trend continues to move and encompasses an overarching theme, that Google is working more and more on displaying the most logical results possible for any given query. Is a company who has a significant amount of online reviews a prominent player in their market? Yes, likely so.
Google has realized that online reviews have the power to shape customer behavior. So why should I listen to what a company has to say about itself? Won’t this information likely be slanted in an effort to sell to me? Within the same search, you can read what actual customers have said about their experience, and this would be a more trusted assessment of “the truth.”
Reviews, as important as they are to a small business, have gotten a whole lot more important this year. The reason can be summed up in another annoying marketing anagram, SERP. It stands for Search Engine Results Page. When you look up your company name, you get a set of results. This will likely include your Google My Business page, website page or pages, perhaps some ads for your own company or for competitors who are bidding on your name, AND the directories and review sites with your business information. This is the “SERP” for your company.
Taking a look at your search engine results and that of your competitors, it is easy to see how the online reviews have crept into those results. It is also easy to prove that more reviews mean a higher page presence on Google. Whether on mobile or desktop, you will notice that Google is now quite obviously factoring in the reviews when showing results.
Earlier this year we talked (blogged) about the “signals” that Google looks for when determining the results to show. Distance, relevance, and prominence were given as three important factors. It is now obvious that they (Google) have determined that a preponderance of online reviews, does in fact make a company more prominent within that search. In the end, it’s all about giving the best possible experience to their users, providing the best results for any given query.
Online Reviews – New Marketing Horsepower
Here at OMG National, your online reviews is a subject which we have spent thousands of man hours working through and studying. We are in the process of developing our 4th generation Review Platform. Our current platform, Review Stream 3 provides the structured data markup from Schema.org to ensure your website’s first party reviews appear prominently in search. As the process by which online reviews are interpreted, handled, and displayed continues to evolve, so will our Review Stream platform. We will ensure that your small business marketing program is leveraging the best practices for how Google wants you handling online reviews.
Bad Review? Handle It.
In the early days of digital marketing and online reviews, a business could choose to ignore reviews in the hopes that the review would disappear so potential clients wouldn’t see them. The option to ignore online reviews no longer exists.
Unless you are 100% certain that everyone representing your organization is delivering outstanding customer service, a review strategy must be established to thank users for positive feedback and resolve the negative feedback that can result in the loss of thousands of dollars in potential revenue.
Responding to bad reviews is essential going into 2018. With that in mind, we’ve incorporated a make it right button directly into our Review Stream 3 platform so a bad experience can be resolved before turning into a negative review.
What’s the best way to ensure your company is getting positive reviews? Employing excellent customer service skills every time, with everyone. Set expectations so the customer understands the extent of your service, and always listen and consider your customer’s feedback.
There’s no pleasing everyone, so in the event that your company does get a negative review, the best course of action is to respond to that review. Address the problem, clearly state your intentions to resolve the issue, and move the conversation offline by suggesting the reviewer contact the business owner directly at a specific number.
We live in a transparent marketing society. Our failures as business people are out there for the world to see in the click of a mouse. There are real dollars associated with this issue, real emotions too. Working as hard as we do on our business, we know how the sting of a bad review can hurt. It feels like someone is insulting your child. However, knowing that this transparency is a part of business life today, forces you to be a better company. So even though it can be painful to address, your online reviews can give you a road map for improving your operation, each day.
Book your spot in our December Webinar where we’ll cover the most important elements when it comes to review management. Click here to reserve your spot, and don’t forget to check out OMG University for complete access to all of our past webinars.