Building a busy and successful small business requires the ability to wear a LOT of hats. One of the most important is how we get the word out about ourselves – how we advertise and how we market.
Within the first 10 years of the onset of the internet, online review sites have come on board in a big way. Most of us know of them at least to a certain extent.
We might use reviews to find and evaluate a good restaurant but if you are one of the many other myriad of other local business owners do reviews really have much value? I mean, sure, every now and then someone says they ‘found us online and our reviews were good’ (hopefully or they wouldn’t be there) and we think to ourselves at that moment “hmmm, looks like a few people are looking at my reviews…”
Well, let me tell you, it is a lot more than a few. I was shocked to find out the reality of just how impactful reviews can be.
When I opened my latest brick and mortar business a few years ago I decided to do something I had never done.
I decided to focus 100% of my marketing efforts (not dollars) on the promotion of getting a ton of reviews.
It was definitely a test – but one that I gambled wholeheartedly on.
THE RESULTS OF MY TEST
Probably like you, I assumed I would get a few customers from the review sites here and there, but I figured once the word got out then word of mouth would take over and I could let the business somewhat ride the wave. Little did I realize the full implications of what focusing on reviews would do for my business.
It turns out people are using these sites for everything! I attribute much of this trend to what I call Cumulative Consensus which is nothing more than a prospective customer who quickly scans a certain number of reviews on their review site of choice (typically about 10) in order to come up with an overall “feel” of the business. Since these reviews are from unbiased previous customers who presumably placed them on their own accord, they must be unbiased (and most honestly are). That provides a ton of social proof!
Now, here is the EXCITING news!…
You are probably thinking “great, I got a bunch of new customers from the review sites” but you would be wrong – and this next part was a total surprise to me! Now of course, you will get customers from the review sites and if you do it right you will get a lot of them, but the collateral value is “SEO juice!”
SEO or search engine optimization is nothing more than having a web-presence that shows up high in the organic search engine searches. When someone goes to Google.com and enters in “____ (type) business in (your city),” where do you show up? If you are not 1, 2 or 3 on the organic (non-paid for ads) section then you are not getting business from the internet, period. How do you show up in positions 1-3? Well your site, and your business in general, has to do a whole lot of online factors that pleases the Google algorithms (and all other search engines) to the extent that they find you relevant for those keywords and reward you by placing you high in the rankings. That is how you get business from the internet!
Now, can you pay an SEO firm hundreds if not thousands of dollars to create back links, perform all the necessary on-site SEO friendly actions, and the myriad of other steps that they espouse as valuable? Well yes, you can do that. Or you can do what I discovered.
You can kill it on the review sites on your own and for very little cost, and by doing so generate THE BEST SEO juice on the planet!
Here is why: For brick and mortar business, search engines value relevancy above all else. In the online (non-local business) space you are expected to do so much more back-linking and many other expensive and time-consuming steps, but the search engines know local businesses are not going to all be able to do that. So, what outside source are they providing an overwhelming amount of value to? Yep, review sites!
PERFORM YOUR OWN TEST
Check it out for yourself. Go to Google.com, type in “(Your business type) in (your city)” and see what pops up on the first page. Not only will it be sites that have a lot of good reviews, but the review sites (like Yelp and Angie’s List) that are promoting your sites.
It is a triple bang for your buck, but your only cost is in effort – not a huge ongoing monthly investment like you have with traditional SEO efforts. So yes, you will get customers from the review sites, that alone is worth the effort, but the side effect of all the SEO value you get that will propel you to the top of the search engine is equally, if not more valuable! Awesome huh!
So, back to my original subject line. “Think Online Reviews Might Be Important?” When it comes to marketing I KNOW they are the most important new customer acquisition method in today’s marketplace!
So, I urge you, delve into this review landscape and make it work for you like I have. In my healthcare business am getting between 5-10 new patients per day from review sites alone. And THAT is valuable!