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Quite simply: Yes. Customer reviews can and do affect your small business’s search engine rankings, especially for businesses that sell their service or product locally. Many users routinely perform searches on local small businesses. One of the best ways for a search engine like Google to determine which organization should receive a higher ranking status is through evaluating the organization's quality and quantity of relevant customer reviews. So, whether you own a small restaurant, a local plumbing business, or an auto mechanic's shop, if you want to place high on the list of (local) searches, you do need to pay attention to your customer review collection strategy.
If you want to retain a high level of control and have the best chance to respond to customer reviews, offering an area on your website where customers can provide feedback is one way to go. It is important to promptly read the reviews and respond in a positive manner. In cases where you receive a less than desirable review, even responding with an apology and a path to resolution and customer satisfaction will reflect well upon your business. After reading your positive response, it just might be the deciding factor for another potential customer to give your organization a chance.
Also, having a dedicated page on your website showcasing customer reviews is a great way to add credibility to the services you offer. Even if you say your services “are the best”, what YOU say only means so much at the end of the day. Instead, let your potential customers learn about what it’s like to work with your company via your current customers’ feedback.
Sometimes customers will use an independent review website, like Yelp or Google My Business, to publish their experience with your company. In many cases, it is better to be proactive and list your business on sites like these, so you can monitor and respond to reviews. But how can you respond to reviews that you don't even know about? The world wide web is a big arena where users leave behind all kinds of comments and reviews. Fortunately, there are numerous tools that can remotely monitor web activity and report any mentions of your organization, thereby giving you an opportunity to respond appropriately and timely.
Google examines these reviews on 3rd party platforms and uses the quality and quantity of reviews to rank your website on a local basis against other competitors. This makes a review collection and response plan exceptionally important in order to remain competitive online. If you want to know more about customer reviews, how they can affect your SEO rankings, or how to best start a review collection strategy, feel free to contact us.