How To Get Authentic Local Reviews

As a small business, getting reviews isn’t easy. Soliciting is a fine line, and sites like Google and Yelp are very serious about review authenticity.

Last month we talked about how important online reviews are for your business. But how do you get them, especially without crossing the very fine line of solicitation?

First off, let’s manage expectations. Getting 25 customers to leave reviews in a month is going to end badly. Google and Yelp won’t trust them and will probably have them removed. Think of too many at once as spam.

Like most online marketing work, these things take time and are best approached with a long-term plan in place. A solid goal for most small businesses is one to two reviews a month.

Here are a few of the best methods for getting more reviews:

  • Provide links to your Google and Yelp pages. Whether the links are on your site, in an email footer, or in some other customer-facing location, make it easy for customers to find your listings and leave reviews, if they want to. Our marketing team makes Leave Us A Review pages to grease the skids.
  • Tell people they can find you on Google and Yelp. Just say, “Hey, check us out on Google or Yelp.” That way, the review happens naturally. Bake it into your process.
  • Get some stickers. I’m sure you’ve seen these before. Stickers are similar to a link but are physical, visual reminders to put in your front office window or in a waiting room. You can ask for Yelp stickers here.

Things not to do:

  • Solicit reviews. If you offer money, discounts, gift certificates, etc. for a good review, there’s a good chance your listing may be flagged and will be removed.
  • Pressure customers to leave reviews. An example would be having a laptop in your waiting room, open to Yelp or Google and all but strong-arming your customer into leaving a review. They’ll also feel added pressure to make it a good one, even if they didn’t have a good experience. Google and Yelp’s algorithms and moderators are unbelievably good at filtering out false or forced reviews.
  • Submit fake reviews. This incurs similar consequences to what we’ve already mentioned, such as removal of the false review and potentially having your business listing flagged.

Getting reviews isn’t an easy process. Customers often just don’t have the time or inclination, but kindly making them aware should yield results over time.

No business is perfect, and you’ll likely end up with a bad review eventually. In our next installment, we’ll talk about the best ways to respond to and resolve negative reviews.

Written by Patrick Quinn on September 12th, 2014

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