I recently had some work done around the house. The crew that came was efficient, courteous and competent. Two days after their visit, I received a follow-up call: Was I happy with the service? On a scale of one-to-10, how would I rate it? After giving generally positive responses, the company representative asked if I would give it a good review online as well.
Though customer reviews are nothing new, they’re becoming increasingly important for businesses looking to gain an edge with new consumers, and they’re becoming increasingly important when it comes to search. In Moz’s survey of factors contributing to local search rankings last year, “review signals” was the seventh most cited for search ranking impact. It won’t be surprising if that goes up in future surveys.
Google recently reportedly changed the parameters it will use to include seller ratings in its Adwords ads, requiring businesses to accumulate 150 reviews in the past year, up from its previous 30. Google has also begun highlighting reviews and rankings from respected critics and publishers, along with “reviews from the Web” in many of its search results.
Facebook also has started to get into the review business, often asking users after they’ve checked into a business to rate their experience. The notion is that friends and associates will be more valuable and trusted resources for business recommendations than the average Yelp user, whose identity is not known (and could be from the business itself).
While often viewed as competitors for attention and ad dollars, a widespread adoption of Facebook ratings could spill over into Google searches. Those with low Facebook ratings will not only risk alienating contacts of customers, but the wider Web as well.
As the review game heats up, the importance of following and tracking these online sites will grow even greater, and businesses need to stay on top of the game, monitoring these sites (including your Facebook page) for reviews, correcting or addressing the ones that are poor and working hard to reinforce the qualities that lead to better reviews. Make sure your Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook and other listings are accurate and don’t include duplicates. Include links to outside review sites for your business.
And don’t be afraid to be proactive — like the home services company was with me. Solicit good reviews and send your customers links to your business’ page on review sites. Remind customers at the time of transaction to not only “like” you on Facebook, but to review you as well. You’re going to need a lot of them to register on Google searches. Each one is of value.