Did you know that 90% of consumers are influenced in their buying decisions by online reviews? That is why if you don’t yet have a review acquisition strategy in place, you need to get on that now. Search engines can have far reaching effects on your business.

Having good reviews online will affect the following:

  • Local search engine rankings
  • The search results clicked
  • Consumer buying decisions

This apparently makes getting online reviews essential to your business, even if it is a brick and mortar one.

Why reviews are important to local SEO

The main reason that online reviews are so important to your local SEO is that the search engines are well aware of how much consumers love and use online reviews. It is a matter of giving people what they want to keep them coming back time and time again.

According to MOZ, these review signals make up to 10% of how the search engines rank search results. That is huge.

Creating a review acquisition strategy

The first step to creating a review acquisition strategy is learning what is going to work for your business. Not all review platforms are made for all businesses, so take some time to find out which will suit your particular business best.

The easiest way to do this is to head over to Google and simply searching “[industry] + reviews” and take a look at the sites that are at the top of the search results.

Let’s take “shoe store reviews” for example. When you type that in you get the following results:

google search

Something to remember is that some of the online review sites keep their reviews exclusive. This means that the reviews will not be available on other platforms. Others, however, will share their reviews with the search engines.

You also need to remember that each review site has their review policies that need to be heeded.

An example of this is Yelp. They forbid small businesses from soliciting online reviews. Most platforms, however, have no problem with you asking for reviews. You just need to know the ins and outs, so you don’t get punished down the road.

Here are the important review guidelines for the most popular review websites:

  • Google+ Local
  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • Citysearch
  • com

Tips for starting your review acquisition strategy

Now that you know the policies of the most important review sites you can get start strategizing.

Here are some handy tips that you should put into practice today:

  • Print out materials that list where people can leave you a review. You can create handouts with the Whitespark Review Handout Generator. This will allow you to make awesome handouts for people telling them exactly what you need them to know.
  • Always have links to your review profiles featured prominently on your website and social media pages if possible.
  • Make sure all staff is trained to “make the ask” after a transaction. You can read ConstantContact’s guide on asking for referrals for ideas.

When you get a bad review

Unfortunately, there is a chance you will get a bad review at some point, it happens. The question becomes, how do you respond?

The worst thing you can do is get worked up and respond in anger. Just think of these reviews as constructive criticism. You can let it get you down, or you can learn and make a change for the better.

It is far better to think of the review as a conversation, one that you need to diffuse. Look for ways to make the person happy and solve the problem. Then make sure it never happens again. It is essential however that you listen with open ears to the criticism and try to learn from it.

Now that you have a good idea of what it takes to start your review acquisition strategy you can begin putting it into place. Your business will thank you for it.