Everybody knows that online reviews can have a positive or negative impact on your business. 92% of consumers read online business reviews, with 33% of those doing so on a regular basis. (1) That is a large percent of people who are looking at online reviews to help make buying decisions.
For some businesses, the question remains: Should I ask for online reviews? Below are the views from two of the leading online review sources, Yelp and Google.
Yelp requests that you don’t ask for reviews for their listings. It suggests that solicited reviews create bias in the business listing. Also, solicited reviews are less likely to be shown because of algorithms in their software. For example, if you receive a review from someone who is not an active Yelp user, it could be taken down. Perhaps they don’t have a profile picture or they have not left any other reviews; the software will detect this. The software could consider it to be a “fake” review and remove the post. This can be disheartening, but Yelp is trying to provide as much trustworthy information as possible.
Yelp suggests that, for best success, you should focus on great customer service.
It also suggests letting people know that you are on Yelp versus actually soliciting reviews:
- You can put a Yelp badge and link to your Yelp listing on your website.
- Place a “Find us on Yelp” sign in your business window or at the counter.
- “Check us out on Yelp” — include a link to your Yelp page in your email signature.
Google suggests that you encourage your customers to spread the word about your business. They encourage honest and unbiased reviews. Reviews will appear next to your listing in Maps and Search. It also lists some best practices on its support site for getting online reviews:
- Remind your customers to leave reviews and let them know how easy it is.
- Reply to reviews to build the trust of your customers and let them know you value their feedback.
- Verify your business — only verified businesses can respond to reviews. Learn how to verify your business
Common sense will tell you that focusing on customer service and the experience you are delivering is a must. Happy customers may or may not leave a review, but they are likely to tell their friends and family. If you are following up on service that was provided, it doesn’t hurt to say, “Please consider reviewing us on Yelp or Google.” As long as you are not incentivizing them or telling them what to write, this is acceptable.