By Anne Mari DeCoster, AZSA Executive Director
Based on a webinar by Podium, AZSA Member
Online reviews impact your company’s bottom line. The more review, the higher your star rating, and the more recent – the more money you make. Why? Because these are some of the important metrics Googles uses to determine our placement on local search results, according to Matt Boyce, on a recent Podium webinar. Matt is the Marketing Director of Podium, AZSA Member providing services in Advertising/Marketing, Lead Management, & Web Design/SEO. Joining him on the webinar was Josh Moran, Co-Owner of Vital Storms.
Google changed things up a lot in the past year, particularly by adding Local Service Ads (LSAs). If you want to rank higher and book business faster, you’ll use them, says Podium.
With LSAs, you only pay when a customer gets in touch with your business through these ads. LSAs appear at the top of the search engine, especially on mobile. In fact, it’s hard to get around them on mobile. It is a lengthy process to get signed up, but it is valuable digital real estate, so Podium encourages businesses to “just do it” and start right away.
Before you start, make sure you have claimed your Google My Business (GMB) page, because you’ll need it to enroll in LSA. Some GMB basics:
Another important step to take is to make sure all the information online related to your business is consistent. It is called NAP – Name Address Phone. Google’s algorithm looks for an exact match, even punctuation, so make sure you have consistent contact information everywhere: on your website, in every directory that links to you, in every reference online.
According to Podium, what reviews say impact paid ad effectiveness – and by paid ad, Google currently means LSAs.
Star ratings impact how well your ad does – so respond promptly. Google looks at your response to online reviews, especially negative ones. Google wants them resolved. Your LSA inbox lists all leads Google sends you. Respond to each one in the inbox, so Google observes that you are taking care of the leads they are giving you. It becomes part of your score, part of how you rank high.
How do you respond to negative reviews? Don’t be hot headed or emotional, and don’t get into an online debate back & forth. Take it offline, as the reviewer to call, email, or come in so we can work it out. Customers like to see this too: how do you respond to problems? How do you resolve situations?
What if the negative review is from a disgruntled employee? Frame your response to the review to point out that this is an employee issue, not a service or customer issue. Google now has a process for dealing with these too, and Podium emphasizes that they will go to bat for their customers who get such reviews.
These are filled out and submitted by a customer who has used your business through LSA. Google gives the customer a link to review your business after the customer calls or clicks to you through your LSA ad. It’s all Google tracked. Customers are “verified” as customers who actually interacted with you.
Reviews influence the entire customer journey. I can hear you asking, “What customer journey?” That’s today’s term for how customers the find you, evaluate you as a legitimate solution to their problem, and ultimately decide to buy from you. And today, all of this happens online.
As the webinar drew to a close, Podium referenced the 30,000 businesses who use their software to generate over a million reviews. What works best, and what they recommend to their customers:
To learn more, contact Podium using the
red "Suppliers & Services" button on each page...