Written by Tactix Marketing
If you own a local business, then you know that reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, etc., can make or break your business. For many businesses, especially those in the food service industry, reviews are nothing new. But in recent years, the idea of providing public reviews for businesses like carpet cleaners, or plumbers is a bit new.
What really scares some local business owners is the fact that they have no reviews at all, and they don’t know how to get their customers to provide them. To compound this situation, some business owners are reporting that customers are leaving reviews on Yelp, but they’re never showing up. Unfortunately, this is a game Yelp is playing with local businesses. They try to upsell a package, at which time the positive reviews will show up. There was even a recent court case over this practice.
Let’s have a look at the policies from Yelp and Google on how you can do this.
Q: Should I ask my customers to write reviews for me on Yelp?
A: No, you shouldn’t ask your customers to post reviews on Yelp.
“Conflict of interest: Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased. If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer. Don’t offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor. If you’re a business owner, don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.”
Okay, so if you read both policies, there are differences in how this can be handled, so what should you do?
Learn From Online Marketing
The online marketing industry, especially the SEO arena, has been through something similar over the past year, and you can take a lesson from it.
Use other businesses as inspiration, but you should modify their tactics to fit with your business and your customers. Just as with SEO, if you’re leaving a detectible pattern, or footprint as I like to call it, the reviews will likely be discounted or simply removed.
An example of these footprints would be:
- Multiple reviewers using the same IP address. This means don’t setup a station in your place of business for customers to leave reviews.
- Time frame: You don’t want a gaggle of reviewers all leaving reviews on the same day or even within the same week. This will tip off sites like Yelp and Google that you have asked for them.
- Similar or the same language: If your reviews are using the same type of language in their reviews, it will appear as though you have orchestrated the review process.
- Scaling: This also produces a pattern similar to the time frame item previously mentioned. If you normally get 1-2 reviews per week and all of a sudden you get 30 in a week, this will look out of character for your business.
Know The Differences
There is a subtle, but drastic difference in asking your customers to leave a review for you online versus letting customers know that they can leave a review for you and that you would like to hear from them.
For one, the former is verboten by Yelp, though not explicitly from Google. However, informing your customers that they MAY leave a review and providing the information on how they CAN do so is very much a different animal.
Again, subtle but very different.
If your business is struggling with customer reviews, whether you don’t have them, or you need to clean up your online reputation, give us a call and we’d be glad to talk with you and let you know how we can partner with you to improve your online reputation.