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By now, many of us are used to shopping online. Whether you’re looking for a specific product or a local business to visit, the process generally looks the same.

You log onto Google, type your challenge, and are faced with blog articles and businesses trying to sell you on their solutions. After searching around for a bit, you narrow down your search to a couple of options.

To break the tie, you search through online reviews, trying to gain an idea of how these businesses treat their customers. You read a few reviews, make a decision, and go from there.

Online reviews are an important part of the customer journey, but did you know they’re also a ranking factor for local SEO?

According to a 2017 survey on Local Search Ranking Factors, review signals (including review quantity, review velocity, review diversity, etc.) account for up to 13% of local pack/finder ranking factors.

In other words, your customer’s words make an impact on whether or not your business will be found by future customers.

So, how do you take advantage of these online reviews to boost your local SEO ranking? Here are five ways you can increase your ranking through your customer’s reviews.

  1. Train Your Employees to Set the Stage
  2. Respond to Your Reviews
  3. Choose the Right Review Platform
  4. Get a Variety of Reviews
  5. Make it Easy for Your Customers to (Privately) Complain

1. Train Your Employees to Set the Stage

Local SEOWhat do you want your business to be known for? Do you hit it out of the park with your customer service? Or do you have the most unique product selection in town?

The first step to boosting your local SEO is choosing keywords you’d like associated with your business. These could be things like “unique gifts near me” or “friendliest dentist near me.” Then, it’s time to train your staff around those goals.

P.S. Are you or your employees scared to ask for reviews? Here’s how to defeat that fear.

For example, if you want your business to be known for excellent customer service, teach your employees good communication skills and make sure they know how to meet – and exceed – your customers’ expectations. Then, when your customers go home to write about their experience, your company name will likely be associated with those keywords.

Note: When choosing keywords, make sure you pick the ones that are important to your ideal customers. If they care more about getting a good deal than having exceptional customer service, for example, they won’t care if your employees know their name if your products are too overpriced.

2. Respond to Your Reviews

Seattle Digital MarketingIf a customer walked into your door and said, “This service was amazing – I would definitely come back here again!” would you ignore them? Probably not. In fact, you would likely thank them for their kind words and ask them to tell their friends.

The same concept transfers to online reviews. Your reviews are an indication your customers are trying to start a conversation.

When you respond to your reviews, Google views it as a form of engagement that shows you care about your customers and their experience.

To make sure you’re responding to your reviews in a timely matter, set up a Google Alert and/or assign someone to take a look at your platforms on a daily basis. The faster you can leave a response, the more engaged you look and the more your customers can tell you care about their feedback.

As you’re responding to these reviews, make sure you’re doing so with both positive and negative ones. Although the negative reviews may leave you feeling attacked and frustrated, take a moment to pause and reflect on the situation from your customer’s shoes. Then, follow these steps to respond.

3. Choose the Right Review Platform

Facebook, Yelp, and Google are known to be among the top online review platforms. But did you know there are other platforms out there, many of them great for boosting local SEO?

To find these sources, open up a new tab and type “[industry] reviews” (replace [industry] with your own industry and remove the quote marks).Google reviewsTake note of these sources and click into the sites to judge the quality of their content.

Other customer review platforms include:

As you take note of these platforms, remember they each have their own guidelines around asking your customers for reviews (we’ll talk about this next).

P.S. Did you know you can also use your customer reviews in your marketing materials? Here’s how.

4. Get a Variety of Reviews

One of the best ways to help people forget about a bad review (besides responding)? Get more people to leave great reviews about different aspects of your business.

Put a system in place like this free online review app to receive valuable reviews for your business. As your review count adds up, you will start seeing variation in the comments and the keywords included in each.

As long as you’re setting the stage correctly (as mentioned above) and monitoring and responding to your reviews, you will start to see your local SEO come to life.

P.S. Are you looking for better reviews? Here’s how to improve the quality of your customer feedback.

Again, keep in mind the guidelines each platform has in place around asking for reviews.

For example, Google is OK with businesses requesting reviews as long as there’s no incentive involved. On the other hand, Yelp forbids asking for customer reviews, and may even deactivate your profile if they notice anything fishy going on.

5. Make it Easy for Your Customers to (Privately) Complain

Local SEO trafficIn many cases, unhappy customers leave negative reviews because they want you (the business) to know they’re dissatisfied with something and want you to change it. However, just because they have a complaint doesn’t mean they need to make it public!

Put up signs around your business location and create a mobile-friendly form on your site to field customer complaints before they turn into public reviews. If your customers see this as an option, it may keep them from making these complaints public in the form of a review.

If and when you get these complaints, be sure to respond professionally and as soon as possible. If your customer thinks you’re ignoring them, they won’t hesitate to leave a scathing review on your profile. As you can see, online reviews can boost your local SEO and help future customers find your business.

With our app, it’s easy to send a link to the review right on the spot, even if you operate in multiple locations. Once your employees have downloaded it, they can send a custom link to your customers’ phones within seconds of completing their transaction.

Not only does this give you a better chance of getting that Google review even before they leave, but you will also be able to capitalize on the personal connection that your employees have established with the customer.

Download the free app and start using it for your business today. 

Did you know that we do more than help businesses collect Google Reviews at Odd Dog?
We are a full-service Digital Marketing Company and we provide SEO Services along with website development, website design, Social Media Management for Small Businesses, as well as a certified Google Ads Agency.

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