Online Reviews: How Your Customers Can Help Your Business

Getting the internet to recognise your business seems like a never ending rat race. You update the content on your website frequently, yet you have to dig through the depths of Google or Bing to find your site. People rarely go that far into search results because they usually choose a business listed on the first page. So how do you make it to that coveted position?

By having an effective local SEO strategy, your business can garner the attention you seek. Through quality content, choice keywords and phrases, and strong social signals, your site can go from page “nowhere” to page 1 of the search results in a matter of months. One of the more time sensitive – but equally important –  aspects of this campaign is acquiring online reviews.

Where To Review

Depending on your type of business, there are several places where customers can review you. Google (and other search engines) and Yelp are the more well known review sources. TripAdvisor and Trustpilot are a couple others. Of course, customers are able to leave reviews on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

You can use all or a couple of these, it’s really up to you to determine which ones are most relevant for your business. For instance, a beauty salon owner in Bristol may use Google, Yelp, and Facebook as her main online review sources, but a restaurant owner uses TripAdvisor in addition to those. Someone who owns a web based business could rely solely on Google, Facebook, and Trustpilot. Whilst a builder may focus more on FreeIndex, MyBuilder or Rated People.

The important this here is relevance, especially as a listing on some of these niche sites may actually cost you money. Ask yourself “Do my target market use and are they influenced by this site?”

How To Get Reviews

There are a couple of methods to go about obtaining online reviews from customers, but before you go that far, you’ll need to set up accounts with the review forums of your choice. Each forum has different setup procedures, but – fortunately –  most are free to businesses.

As far as getting reviews, you can either take a passive, semi-passive, or “full charge” approach.

  1. By being passive, you basically play a game of wait-and-see. Customers are left to their own devices when reviewing your business because you give them no direction.
  2. A semi-passive approach requires you to give some direction by leaving cues strategically placed around your site and business. This could take the form of signs by the cash register, on receipts, and clickable buttons on your website.
  3. The “full charge” approach means you prompt customers to review your business, and, possibly, give them incentives in exchange (some review forums actively discourage this method (Yelp) so be careful).

The approach we encourage our clients to take is to actively encourage reviews. Make it part of your customer service routine to regularly follow up with clients. Were they happy with the service / product they received? If yes, offer them links direct to your review listing. If not, then here’s a chance to fix it. We wouldn’t recommend you incentivise anyone to leave a review.

Pros and Cons of Online Reviews

As with anything related to public opinion, there’s bound to be some criticism. Any business is susceptible to negative reviews regardless of how well it’s managed, and yours is no different. Luckily, the benefits of online reviews outweigh this con. Aside from being a local ranking factor, reviews build trust and credibility with your customers.

If you’re asking your customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business page, once you’ve reached 5 reviews your listing will start to display 5 stars underneath. A great way to help your result stand out against competitors and has been shown to significantly increase click through rate.Local SEO Bristol


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