Influencers, emails, targeted ads, TikTok… in this day and age, our worlds are saturated with marketing efforts to get us to spend more on things we do (or don’t) need.
If you see a cool product on Instagram, what do you do? What motivates you to buy the product? Is it the solution to your problem? Maybe it’s the branding, the website, or the causes they support.
But what if the product had zero customer reviews – would you still buy it?
What if your best friend or family member bought the product? Would their satisfaction with it sway your decision to purchase it even more?
64% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful tool any business owner can utilize – because it’s genuine. We may be living in a digital world, but we crave connections and conversations with real people. We want to be seen, heard, and understood, not just added to a mailing list.
Seven years ago, Liz and Robert Cortes embarked on a journey to help small business owners improve their local SEO, i.e., our age’s algorized and digitized word-of-mouth.
Equipped with a web developer, graphic designer, social media, and tons of research, they launched their digital marketing agency, Rebelfish. In our recent podcast, Liz provided us with a wealth of tips for boosting your local SEO rankings and reviews.
At Whirks, our goal isn’t to simply process payroll. Our goal is to help you better your back office so that you, your team, and your business can thrive. For us, that means consulting experts in different industries and sharing their knowledge with you.
In this article, we’re going to provide some local SEO tips and tricks, thanks to the wisdom and advice of Rebelfish.
Roughly 97% of people who use online search are looking for a local business.
1. Ensure you’re on the right review platforms.
The goal of reviews is to generate awareness and authority for your business in the online space. That being said, Google, Yelp, and Facebook are the three platforms every business owner needs to have.
For Google, you need to ensure that your Google Business Profile is filled out with accurate, up-to-date information. This includes business hours, phone numbers, and your location.
Secondly, you’ll want to research Google ranking factors and figure out what’s best for your business and industry. Google should be the first focus for any business owner because it’s still the number one choice for consumers.
Yelp is an especially important platform for restaurant owners. Liz recommends downloading the app on your phone in order to be reminded to leave reviews for local places or services you use.
Getting into the habit of leaving reviews for other businesses helps build camaraderie with other owners, managers, and employees, who may be more likely to leave your business a review.
Your social proof is your credibility in today’s world. Potential customers and prospects are looking at your reviews, your website, and your social media – they want to see what other people are saying about you.
Having different review platforms accommodates more people. If you request a review from a customer, they may not have a Gmail account or yelp, but they may have access to Facebook.
- The more reviews you have, the better. Once you get ten reviews under your belt, focus on the next big number: 25, 50, 100, etc, depending on your size and volume.
- Ensure that you (or an employee) are actively managing your review platforms. Responding to negative and positive reviews shows customers that you care about your quality of service.
2. Coach employees to ask for reviews.
A personal conversation with a client or customer is a compliment to you and your service, and it’s an amazing way to ask for a review.
If there’s a moment where a client or customer thanks you, it’s a perfect opportunity to ask for a review and encourage your employees to say:
>> “I can text you the link or email it. What would you prefer?”
Employees who are more apprehensive to ask for reviews can shift the responsibility to their boss or a marketing incentive. For example, an employee could say:
>> “Wow! Thank you so much for sharing that with me – I would love it for you to share that publicly so my boss can read what you said!”
As a business owner, this also gives you the opportunity to retain great employees. Raving reviews can help you identify and reward top performers, which will help improve your company’s culture and reputation.
3. Create an incentive program.
Creating incentive programs for your employees can help you receive several Google reviews quickly and improve your ranking, but Google and Yelp regulate and remove them if the reviews come in too quickly.
This is why organically asking for reviews is awesome; it helps you naturally stagger reviews, which the Google algorithm likes.
If you do opt for an incentive program or email blast requesting reviews, Liz recommends tracking and taking screenshots of every review. If they disappear, you can always ask your clients to repost them – even requesting a photo or extra paragraph to improve the review.
Reviews make great content and branding.
Your reviews can be shared on your website, in print brochures, or in presentations at tradeshows and events. Showing customer stories and journeys help build trust with potential prospects.
After all, you’re more likely to buy a product with thousands of outstanding reviews, written by real people who found success with it.
Whether you’re a restaurant, a law firm, a dentist’s office, or a laundromat, customer and client reviews reflect your service and reputation and are critical for brand recognition, trust, and growth as a business.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the full podcast episode with Liz Cortes from Rebelfish, or visit them online