A Busy Professional’s Guide to Online Reviews

Get Better Online Reviews Faster

Are you wishing you had more and better online reviews, but you’re not sure where to start or how to find the time to manage them? This guide is for you!

I know, as a busy professional, taking care of our online reviews seems to get put on the back burner because other work seems more important. Also, it can feel awkward to ask for online reviews, so we just don’t ask.

What if I told you there’s a pretty easy way to get online reviews?

This guide will teach you how to:

  • develop a system to consistently ask for online reviews
  • manage negative feedback
  • save some time in the process.

Let’s get started.


Why Online Reviews Matter

First, let’s take a few minutes to talk about why online reviews matter. Online reviews are becoming more and more important for establishing trust with your potential clients.

We’ve all depended on them. We’ve searched for a business online, and then read the reviews about them to help us decide which businesses to contact. The research backs this up.

Consumers Depend On Online Reviews

During the last few years, more and more consumers have started relying on online reviews to make purchasing decisions. According to research by Bright Local, 97% of consumers search online to find local businesses and 95% of them read online reviews for local businesses.

Consumers have also started sharing more online reviews. According to a recent survey by Bright Local, the number of online reviews left by consumers in the US alone witnessed a growth of 617%! If this trend continues, online reviews are only going to become even more important in the future.

Let’s stop and think about these statistics for a moment and how they relate to your business.

Imagine your ideal client is looking for a business or service like yours. They turn to Google to get more information and discover your Google My Business Profile or another listing.

Or, maybe someone referred you to them and they’ve turned to Google to learn more about you.

But now, the potential client wants to learn more about you before they reach out. Like you, your potential client is busy, and doesn’t want to waste their time contacting a business with a poor reputation.

Online reviews help potential clients decide if your business is trustworthy and worth reaching out to. At the same time, your potential client is likely comparing you to your competitors.

Online Reviews Build Trust

In fact, nearly 60% of consumers won’t use a business with fewer than 4 stars. Businesses with less than 10 reviews have a harder time building trust with potential leads.

If you’ve got a great online reputation with good public online reviews, you can start to build trust with your potential clients before they reach out to you. It’s even better if there are current reviews.

Woman with Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Google and Search Engines Also Care About Your Reviews

Online reviews also boost your local search rankings. In other words, Google rewards businesses with more positive reviews with higher search results for local searches.

What is a local search? A local search is when someone types in “near me” in their Google search, or the search engine uses some type of geographical constraint to find local business listings. In fact, searches from mobile devices tend to be local searches because and more and more people are simply relying on mobile devices to find local businesses.

If Google and other search engines place you higher in the search results list, you’re likely to get more clicks and visits to your website or directory listing.

Online Reviews Work Better Than Testimonials

Your potential client is more likely to believe a review on Google or Facebook than a testimonial on your website. Why? Well, that’s because we tend to hand pick the best testimonials we get to put on our website in order to make ourselves look better.

However, your potential clients understand that’s what you’re doing and take all those glowing reviews with a grain of salt.

A more effective approach is to share online reviews on your website. Your potential clients then know you haven’t handpicked these testimonials, so they seem more reliable.

Where Should You Collect Online Reviews?

If online reviews are so important, you might be wondering on what sites you should start building up your reviews.

Obviously, you can’t control how your potential clients find you. Consumers use a variety of sites to find and research potential businesses to work with. Trying to get reviews on all of the possible review sites would be very time consuming, and might even dilute the value of the reviews you do receive by spreading them too thin across many sites.

So how do you know which sites to focus on?

Start with building a solid reputation on Google My Business. If you only collect online review one place, get them at Google My Business. Google is the most popular search engine out there, and your Google My Business profile is very important for Google’s search algorithms.

Then, try to identify the other sites and social media platforms where your potential clients are most likely to hang out. Pick no more than two places where you’d like to collect online reviews. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin.

How To Start Collecting Better On Line Reviews

STEP ONE: Create Your Online Profiles

Now, you need to create your online profiles! It is crucial to make sure that all of your information is accurate and consistent on all of your listings and profiles, especially your name, address and phone number (otherwise known as NAP). Inaccurate and inconsistent information about your business on different listings can confuse your potential clients and hurt the trust you’re trying to establish.

If you don’t have a Google My Business Profile, create one now. You’ll need a free account with Google to get started. If you’d like to read a great guide about how to optimize your Google My Business Profile you can look at this great post, again from Bright Local.

Next, take the description you wrote for your business for Google My Business and save it somewhere where you can easily copy / paste. You’re going to want to use this description at the profiles or directory listings you create.

Now, go ahead and create the other profiles or directory listings where you decided to request online reviews. Use the business description you copied from your Google My Business profile. Also, make sure to check that your NAP is correct.

STEP TWO: Create a System to Collect Reviews

The easiest way to consistently ask for online reviews is to have a process you use for everyone for asking for reviews. It’s even easier if it’s at least partially automated. Then, you just really don’t have to think about it, and you can just watch the online reviews come in!

Create a form or series of pages to ask for feedback

If you want to use a form to gather online reviews and feedback you might want to use a form tool that includes conditional logic built in. Forms with conditional logic display different questions depending on the answers to previous questions. For example, if the first question is a Yes or No, the form will display a different second question to people who answer Yes and to people who answer No.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many free online form tools that do this. There are several online premium form builders that let you set up this type of form, including Wufoo Forms, JotForms, and Type Form. If you’re using WordPress for your website, you can also use most of the premium form building plugins to create this type of form.

If you don’t want to pay for a premium form builder, then you can build multiple forms or separate pages on your website and link them together in a sequence with buttons and redirect links.

How the form or page system works

The first question you want to ask is to find out if the reviewer is likely to leave a positive or negative review. You can find this out by asking if they’re likely to recommend you, asking them to rate your service from 1 – 5, or asking if their experience was positive or negative.

If you get a positive response, then the form or page system directs the reviewer to leave an online review at one of the sites you’ve chosen. Include the direct links to your review page for those sites.

Make sure to also include a direct link to your review form in your email signature. You can also leave it in your footer for your email marketing platform, add it to your website, or even share the link on your business card. The goal is to make it easy for people to leave reviews about your business.

No Review Gating

In order to not violate Google and other review platform online review policies, you can’t prevent people from posting negative reviews. In fact, some experts argue that having a handful of negative reviews can actually help your online reputation because they make your good reviews look more authentic. The consumer knows you haven’t prevented negative reviews!

The best way to mitigate negative reviews is to ask for feedback. Most people leave a negative review because they want to be heard. If you give people a chance to express their concerns and to offer suggestions to improve your service, they’re less likely to want to leave a negative review online.

So, when you set up your form or your page system for collecting reviews, make sure you’re not preventing people from leaving negative reviews. If you get a negative response to the first question, give the reviewer a chance to provide feedback first. But you must also give the reviewer a chance to leave an online review in addition to or instead of the feedback. This is very important.

This process creates a win-win for you! You may have one less negative review online, and now you’ve got a chance to use that feedback to improve the delivery of your service.

Here’s a simple flow chart showing what your system could look like:

Review Funnel

It’s really that simple. No need to make it more complicated than that.

STEP THREE: Write a Canned Email You Can Send to Ask for Reviews

I know I get stuck when I start even thinking about asking for reviews. Write a simple email you can send to everyone to ask for online reviews. Then, send this email within 48 hours after you have delivered your service. It can really be as simple as,

“I really enjoyed working with you, and  I appreciate your business. As I’m sure you know, online reviews are important to local businesses like ours. I’d really appreciate it if you would share an online review or share some feedback. You can click the links below to get started.”

Then, insert direct links to where you’d like to collect reviews to make it as easy as possible to write an online review.

If you’re worried about negative reviews, write another similar email. But instead of providing direct links to provide the online reviews, provide a link to the form or page system you set up above.

Now you have a template for asking for reviews with every client!

STEP FOUR: Respond to Your Reviews

You should always respond to all your reviews, both great reviews and negative reviews.

Dealing with Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are hard to digest sometimes. We can feel like the reviewer is being unfair or mean-spiritied. The best approach is to wait until you’re not angry!

Then, take a deep breath and respond to the former client’s complaints one by one, acknowledging their complaints without getting defensive. An even handed response to a negative online review shows you care about the service you provide and can mitigate the effects of a negative review.

Dealing with Positive Reviews

Always take the time to thank the person who left a positive review! You don’t have to write much, but just let them know you appreciate their support.

Check out this great blog post from Hub Spot about responding to online reviews. It’s even got some response templates you can use.

Now Get Started

I hope you enjoyed this guide about online reviews and that you got a few helpful tips from it.

If you’d like some help setting up your own system, you can check out my Reputation Management Services.

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