Google and Yelp Online Reviews for Local Business

The be-all end-all of local business success today seems to come down to how many people take a break from their busy days to write nice or evil reviews about your small business on Google and Yelp. Who is more likely to act: the happy customers or the disgruntled ogres?

The ogres. As a small local business, if you don’t put in an effort to encourage reviewers, you will end up represented online by the angry ogres of the world who rip you in reviews. (Or you did something stupid and should apologize to the customer who wrote you a scathing review. No judging, nobody’s perfect.) Regardless of why, now you are stuck with meanie-head Google or Yelp reviews and you need to fix it.

Before we dive in, let’s get on the same page: doing this right takes time and money. You are going to have to dish out the cash. Yes, I know you are a small business hungry for money and strapped for time. I get it. I am small too. Did your elders teach “you have to spend money to make money, honey.” Well, now you know.

Two of the most important local business review sites are Google and Yelp. Some of the other important ones are Yellow Pages and Facebook. Let’s focus on Yelp and Google today.

%

Of Consumers Say Positive Reviews Make Them Trust A Local Business More

%

Trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

5 Star Review

Why Do Google and Yelp Reviews Matter?

Reviews matter because people trust them. Maybe you stopped using Yelp to get back at them for letting angry people post mean things about your business. I get it. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair, you are alone in your vendetta, and everyone else still uses Yelp.

Because users trust reviews, Google trusts them too. Google has incorporated review sentiments and ratings into the Google search algorithm. So a bad Yelp review hurts you on Yelp and on Google search. A bad Google review has similar consequences. Ready to bust out your wallet to fix this problem? Great, let’s get going.

The Local Business Review System You Need

Set up a system that automatically prompts happy customers to quickly and easily leave you a review online. You need to reach them when they have just recently interacted with your business and left with a positive experience.

I recently interacted with a business that nailed the process beautifully, so the nerd in me documented it from start to finish to share with you today.

Review Request Email

1. Send An Email Asking For Feedback

First, set up an email that automatically goes to your clients at the conclusion of each transaction. Customize it to fit into your natural workflow. Make sure that getting the client’s email address is part of the introductory paperwork when they sign on to your product or service.

Make note of how this email was worded. It is all about the value the business places in my feedback as the client, down to every detail. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so I respond.

Review Request Web Form

2. An Easy Web Form

Clicking on a star rating brought me to a web form on their website. There were a few key ingredients that made this web form very appealing:

  • Pre-filled out. My name, email, and star rating were already filled out, brought into the website form automatically from what they already knew about me. Nerd-tip: They used a query string to communicate from email to web form. Email and name was pulled from my email address.
  • It was short and easy to fill out. This is NOT a sales opportunity! No extra fields for upsells later, no prompts to subscribe to their blog or annoying pop-ups. This is all about getting them through this part easily to get them to the important part: the review online. don’t worry, it’s coming soon.
  • It’s responsive, so I can fill it out on my iPhone in the grocery store checkout line, or waiting for my bagel to toast. If you are not willing to make this process mobile-friendly, stop reading now and give up because you’ll fail.
Google or Yelp Review Request

3. Ask for the Online Review on Google or Yelp

Look where we are, hurray! After clicking “submit” I was prompted to visit Yelp or Google to leave a review. Here’s what made this pop-up oh-so-delicious to my marketing brain.

  • They picked 2 review sites, count ’em. Two. Not 18. Not 45.5. Don’t give your poor customers decision paralysis. Pick the most important 2 sites that you want to grow reviews on right now. You can change them out later.
  • When I clicked each button, I was taken directly to the company’s listing on each site. I recently encountered a review prompt that gave generic buttons that took me yelp.com and google.com. What good does that do me? I’m not going to go start over and find the business. Make this easy, people, the customer is doing you a favor by filling out the review. Don’t make them hunt your business down online first when you can lead them right to it instead.
  • Stop drooling, this part is important: Only happy clients get the pop-up. If the review on the previous step is 4 or 5 stars, they get this pop-up. If it’s not, the client gets a prompt asking them to contact the business directly to resolve their issue. Presto, you have just filtered your review system to only encourage happy customers to leave reviews. You’re welcome.

What to Do Next

Ready to set up this process for your local business? Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Contact your developer. They need to do the email and web form stuff.
  2. Talk with your team and/or CRM consultant. One-man show? Talk with yourself, then. Figure out how to integrate the email-send trigger into your client process flow. The best way is to integrate it into your CRM or transaction database. If you choose to manually send the review email, make sure to write a very specific template for your team to copy, paste and send. The wording is important.
  3. Get a tool. Grade.us is a great option. They setup the custom links, let you customize your landing page design, and spit out code that you can copy and send to your developer to embed on the website.

Don't want to tackle this yourself? Lawton Digital can manage the process for you, and more.

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Lauren L Perfors. President of Lawton Digital Marketing, helping established small businesses grow through digital marketing consulting and campaign management. @LaurenLPerfors