Business reviews are nothing new, but making them work hard to support your business is now much easier thanks to the Internet. However, it is very important to understand that reviews are not simply static items on a message board; they are conversations between the customers, the business and the rest of the world. In a way, customer reviews are as interactive as social media, although they are not as easy to utilize.
It is important to understand that reviews that are never seen do not help your business, so you have to be sure that your reviews are visible to others. However, the search engines and programs that host customer reviews do not want companies to interfere; instead, they want “honest reviews.” How can business owners optimize local reviews so that they can take advantage of the good things customers are saying?
We can learn from the rules of link building and extrapolate those rules to local business review optimization.
- Do not use patterns. Search engines look for patterns in reviews, so using a form or other pattern-based review solicitation is a no-no. Instead, let reviewers use their own patterns so that search engines can discern that they are all made by different people.
- Do not solicit mass reviews. Search engines can tell that you are soliciting reviews from your IP address, and they can also discern if many reviews came in at once.
- Integrate and influence your review schema. The best way to get good reviews is to provide great service, but it is also important to give your customers an easy way to review your company. This could come in the form of a follow-up survey or email.
- Use social media. One of the best ways to get great organic reviews is to invite your customers to sign up for social media. Customers who use this form of communication are often already predisposed to giving reviews anyway, so this can be a rich source of interaction with your customers. It is also a great way to get customers’ attention about sales, important upcoming events and other information.
You can optimize your local review capabilities without violating the rules of the search engines. However, in order to do that, you must be willing to do a little work and build your review base slowly rather than trying to get too many reviews at once.