In our earlier articles, we’ve taught that Google’s top priority is to protect the interests of their search engine users by only serving up results that are relevant and trustworthy.Relevant content from trustworthy entities is what Google wants to serve up.They’ve put an end to the shortcuts of the past where people could keyword stuff their pages, get a whole bunch of backlinks from spam websites, or put hidden keywords in their page to rank. Google’s machine learning and AI are now helping out with this - to ensure that the entities and web pages that dominate with SEO are making content for their end-user’s benefit and treating them well on both their website and in-person.
Backlinks are votes of confidence another website provides to you by pointing their readers to your website as a solution. For example, if I were to send someone to a house cleaning company in the Twin Cities area, I would then point to Tidy Touch Twin Cities, a Minnesota House Cleaning Company & Maid Service.I am giving a vote of confidence to Krissy Oates and Brittany of Tidy Touch, because I know them, I trust them, they’re a business we’re working with, and I have complete confidence in them.Google likes to see that, and it notices backlinks and puts a great deal of value on them.While Google doesn’t provide many “how-tos’”, it has repeated over and over that it wants websites to create relevant, engaging material for users, and to do business in an upright manner - not trying anything that’s considered a “black hat” or “grey hat” SEO technique.
While a backlink is really important, local SEO for small businesses is also driven by what’s called “review signals.”Google reviews on a Google My Business Page are the equivalent of someone providing a referral.
Obviously, anyone can jump online and provide a referral, and many professionals are discouraged by the lack of verifying options Google has implemented. Many people think it’s too easy to cheat and get fake reviews.That may be true, but Google has added a couple of features in 2017 that allow a reviewer to give much more substantive insight into their recommendation.You are now able to upload photos of the work which was done - which is essentially proof that the work has actually been done. Not only that, but we need to remember that Google requires a Gmail account - and it can easily identify a spammy review with its data.
I’ve met hundreds of business owners that will nod their head after I talk to them about the SEO power of reviews, but they almost always struggle with them.Local entrepreneurs struggle at systematizing and making it easy for their clients to review them. Just start searching random industries and business sectors and notice how many vendors and small businesses there are with very few reviews.
I’ve had extensive training on how to ask for referrals, and I never liked the pressuring techniques from the
insurance and investment industry. But one thing they make clear - tell people that eventually you’d love it if they connected you to their friends.When you’re interacting with a client, you should mention to them how important it is for you to meet or exceed expectations. Then, you should treat them with dignity, be enjoyable, and execute really well…. (This is really what it’s all about.)Don’t tell them you want a review, but tell them:“It’s really important that we meet or exceed your expectations, because we would want your recommendation with a Google review someday.”
I’m not going to drone on about this, but every business owner ultimately has to do two things:A - Make SalesB - Follow ThroughReviews are easy when you’ve added great value and met the expectations of your clients.
Good business is done when you find a way to check in with the customer and communicate to them that you’re taking note of whether you're meeting expectations or not. Make a call to follow up and ask how things are going, how you can improve, or ask if there was one thing they’d change, what might it be?Don’t ask for a review here, this is an investment in your client.If you can get a solid review from this person, that has pictures and a real testimonial, you’ll benefit from it for years. This is an important step for entrepreneurs.Don’t just do this so you get a review either, take interest in the value you added - find out if you’re really coming through on the things they needed.
Wait till you’re confident that you feel good about the client’s response to your work, then follow up with them.This shouldn’t be too formal, and your ability to connect personally with your customer will make it much easier for you to do this. Outreach with a script that’s simple, to the point, and not manipulative.“Hello XXXX,I appreciate your business, and I was hoping you might do us a favor.We’re trying to earn a good reputation in Minnesota here, and if we’ve done a good job for you, would you mind taking the time to log into your Gmail account to give us a Google Review?You can Click the Review Link here, or search “XXXXXX Business”You’ll need to be logged in to do it.Thanks again,Rob”
A phone call is really helpful too, letting them know you’d be grateful if they’d let other people know that you’re not crazy.Best Way to Send the Google Review LinkThere are two ways I’ve found to make sure that any link you embed for your Google review will work.
1 - Use your phone, search your business in Google, and hit the share button.Copy, paste, and email that link to your desktop where you can use it.
2 - Search on a Desktop for your business, find the Google My Business Page, hit “reviews” and then grab the URL link in the browser.This is a long URL that’s actually a search result- and I’ve had mixed results with it.
If you text that URL to your satisfied customers, it makes it VERY easy for them to quickly review you.
If you’re a small business owner and you’re thinking “that’s WAY too much messing around!” then connect with us. Our SEO packages include reach out for your Google reviews, because it’s such an important part of a small business's overall search engine optimization plan.