By: Gina Rubel and Sarah Larson
During the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and the disease it causes, COVID-19, we at Furia Rubel have been working hard to provide our readers with helpful information about communicating during a time of crisis as well as productivity tips for your company’s marketing and public relations efforts. Our last post addressed how to make physical distancing productive for your business. In addition to those tips, you can do various other things to review and bolster your company’s online reputation.
Preparing to seek online reviews is one task you can tackle while physically distancing. While this is something most companies should do regularly, the time is now to evaluate and prepare to reinforce your online profile through proactive reputation management.
Note, however, that Google is operating with limited staff during the stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus. Consequently, Google has turned off the ability to leave new reviews, reply to reviews, or answer Q&As. Users who go to leave a review may see the screen appears to work as usual but the review itself never shows up. We strongly recommend not actually asking your customers for reviews until Google turns the review functionality back on.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything regarding your online reputation, though. You can use this time to learn why online reviews matter and preparing to ask your satisfied customers for reviews, when the time is right.
Why It Matters
The quality and quantity of reviews of a business on Google, among other platforms, is a vital ranking factor for SEO. According to Mention.com, “social proof drives purchases.” When a person searches for products or services on Google, the business listings that include customer reviews are viewed with greater credibility and then typically receive more clicks. It is also a differentiator for potential customers seeking your products or services, who may be more likely to choose a business that has a high Google review over other lower-rated competitors.
User-generated content increases SEO points dramatically by “providing sites with fresh content, bundles of backlinks, and sources for organically shaping natural attributes,” according to e-commerce site yotpo.com.
To maintain a high rating on Google, for example, businesses should actively and continuously request reviews from happy customers. If anyone was dissatisfied, they will likely post a negative review anyway and certainly don’t need to be asked.
9 Reasons Why You Should Focus on Online Reviews
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews
- Online reviews are one of the best ways to evaluate how well your company is doing.
- About half of the people you reach out to are likely to leave a review, if they are asked.
- Note that offering incentives in exchange for reviews can be considered unethical for some businesses such as law firms, since legal marketing is governed by professional rules of conduct.
- The goal is to secure at least three to six reviews if you have none (90% of people read no more than 10 reviews; 68% of people read no more than 6 reviews; 32% of people make a decision after reading 1 – 3 reviews).
- Recent reviews are given more credence than reviews that are months or years old.
- Reviews naturally help your website with long-tail keywords.
- The goal is to raise the star rating to 4 – 5 (87% of people choose businesses rated 3 stars and above; only 8% insist upon a 5-star rating).
- Authenticity is key because skepticism of online reviews is rising.
Don’t just take our word for it.
Myles Anderson, founder and CEO at BrightLocal, said, “It’s no longer enough to expect reviews to come to you. Every business needs a strategy in place to encourage happy customers to feedback, monitor across the different review sites, and respond to both positive and negative reviews quickly and professionally. And remember — if you don’t ask, you won’t get.”
For more coronavirus resources, please visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis & PR Resource Center.