What Do All Those Stars Mean Anyway?
Here’s a news flash: the method consumers use to search for local businesses online has changed.
Wait - Is this news? Not really.
Every aspect of online marketing is continually changing and evolving. Google tells us that today’s shoppers look at online reviews for information about local businesses they may be considering buying from. They actually prefer online ratings and peer-to-peer feedback to any other form of recommendation, even from family and friends. They say their buying decisions are influenced by these online reviews, both positive and negative.
Further, they rely on reviews to fight “decision fatigue” when they get overwhelmed with too much information. The reviews help them focus.
Research shows that consumers search online for more than ten pieces of information (on average) before making a local purchase. Their desire for information about local businesses – including your local business -- is insatiable.
How You Can Get In On the Google Search Action
To get your business noticed in local online search results, you must get reviews that your prospective customers will consider trustworthy, and you must get it into the right places for them to see it, remember it and act on it.
Your battle for prospective customers will be won or lost with online reviews, and your online reviews will get you ranked in search results. It’s all tied together.
Google search and map results now include a business’s star rating. If you aren’t “starring in search,” you’re missing the opportunity to get your business noticed in consumer search results.
After online shoppers get their ten pieces of information, they typically go to a local listings site like Yelp where written reviews are featured. Local decisions of where to shop or where to buy are made quickly; more than half are made in less than one hour!
You don’t want to lose a prospect’s interest at this point. If you don’t have reviews on third-party sites like Yelp that get you your stars, they will move on to your competitor.
Use The Power of Houzz.com
As a kitchen designer/remodeler, you have a place to get meaningful reviews that other businesses don’t have, and that is on Houzz.com. Google gives stars to positive reviews on Houzz, as you can see in Fig. 1 and Fig. 2.
Yelp is a great place for online reviews for restaurants and hotels, but in our industry, Houzz is the way to build your online presence, your reputation, and your place in the Google search rankings. Google takes into account your business reviews when determining where you get placed in search results.
How Google Shows Your Business in Search Results
Three types of online star ratings show up in local searches on Google:
#1 Reviews from your own website.
#2 Reviews from third party websites.
#3 Google My Business ratings.
Your online marketing must incorporate three key ratings and reviews concepts.
#1 First-Party Reviews. Google requires reviews on your website to be first-party, that is, they cannot be pulled in from other sites. You need to collect reviews from your customers, both good and bad, and post those reviews on your website. Having those reviews on your website means you get credit for review content so you can “star in search.”
#3 Make it Easy. You must make it easy for your customers to give you feedback in the right places. Have a card printed with instructions on how to place a review on your website or any of the other legitimate sites.
Make It Easy
Reviews can be one or two sentences; they don’t have to be long and involved. But they do need to be specific. “They did a great job” isn’t good enough. “They were involved every step of the way in our remodel project. They stayed in budget. We got exactly what we wanted and couldn’t be more pleased.”
That’s the kind of review you want. And the same couple of sentences can be used over and over. No need to write a different review for each site.
Getting reviews should be a regular part of your marketing efforts. Ask regularly. People need to be asked. And, as part of the asking, always show appreciation, regardless of the opinion expressed.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Unfortunately, negative reviews are inevitable. By responding to a negative review, you send a message to potential customers that you want your customers to be satisfied, that you pay attention and that you are involved in your customer’s experience.
How people shop for local business has changed. Yellow Pages is no longer the “go to” source for finding local businesses. To get the attention of online searchers – your potential customers -- you must get “starred in search” on Google. Beefing up your presence in local search results takes time and attention. And it’s ongoing, not once and done.