If you don’t have a program in place to keep tabs on, generate, and manage your online reviews, you should.  Reviews have been a factor in local rankings for a long time and though it hasn’t been published to my knowledge, I feel it is going to be the new links in the future for general organic SEO.  Google has acknowledged through both public statements and their algorithm changes of recent years that they have sent everyone down the wrong path to some extent with chasing links.  They made links an important factor in organic strength and a statement on your relevancy.  Now because everyone has chased links and falsified links through side deals, they are taking away the value of a good percentage of links that have been built.

What is the logical and more direct next step in business relevance, reviews.  They already use them in local so if you are local you should already be very concerned, but with Yelp and Google learning to perfect how to understand what is a real review and what is not (so we don’t go down the same road of fake reviews, which is already an industry), we will move down the road toward heavier weight toward review sites and reviews for any business. Eventually the number and quality of your reviews throughout the online world will be a big factor in your sites ability to rank in all search areas.

When considering a plan, you should keep a few things in mind.

  • Generating Reviews: You won’t get them if you don’t ask. Do you have a process to ask for reviews and to point your clients, patients, customers to the right pages (present them with several good choices) to leave you a review
  • Managing Negatives: You should have a filtered system in place so that when you ask for a review and someone is not happy with your service, you can filter that out by taking care of them before they get to the review site.  Get back to them and try to fix it. You will always run in to people that just can’t be satisfied, but it is best to manage this the best you can.  Sometimes the most satisfied customer and best review comes from someone that was initially disappointed, but then taken care of in such a great way that they want to share the great experience.
  • Monitoring for Rogue Negatives: If you have a process in place, you will touch nearly all of your clients and typically can stop a bad review before it shows up, but sometimes you will just find a negative review randomly shows up. It is good to be aware of where your business is listed and getting reviews so you can deal with rogue negatives when they do show up.  You can at least respond and try to deal with the situation.  Often these reviews are just somebody that is out to get you, but it is better to address them professionally than to let them hang out there.

If you need help with a system to generate and manage your review process, give us a shout.  It doesn’t need to be overly expensive to put the system together and you will be ahead of most businesses.