The Many Different Kinds of Reviews and How to Respond to Them

Your business will encounter all different kinds of reviews, and regardless of if they are negative, positive or somewhere in between, you should make it a point to respond to all of them.

How You Respond to Reviews Makes all the Difference

There’s just too much competition out there for your business to let its online reputation fall by the wayside. Growing your online reputation and maintaining it takes consistency, and one of the most important aspects of reputation management is responding to the people who take the time to write reviews for you.

Responding to reviews is a great way to engage your customers, and it’s important to always respond no matter what kind of review it is. Whether the reviewer is easy to please and thrilled with every aspect of your service or, no matter what you do, they’re just the type of reviewer that will never be happy, responding to the review shows that you care and helps you take control over the situation. Additionally, more and more consumers actually expect a business to respond to reviews, and quickly. According to a survey conducted by Review Trackers, more than 53 percent of customers expect a response to their review from a business within seven days, so don’t put off responding!

However, not all review responses are made equal, and if you don’t respond the correct way, you could make a bad situation even worse. That’s why, today, we’re going to break down the many different types of reviews and how you should respond to them.

The Many Different Kinds of Reviews and How to Respond to Them

Small businesses receive all kinds of reviews; here are the most common:

The First-Time Review

While the majority of people will write a review when asked, a lot of people still don’t write them on their own, and you might be surprised at how many people there are out there who simply haven’t written a review before. That means that the likelihood of your business getting a first-time review or two is fairly high. When someone who has never left a review before takes the time to write one for the first time, you can bet that it’s most likely because they feel strongly about the interaction, good or bad.

How should you respond?

Because the reviewer most likely feels incredibly strong, it’s of the utmost importance that you take your response seriously. Perception is reality, so even if you believe that the reviewer is making a mountain out of a molehill, it’s important to remember that, to them, that mountain might be as big as Everest. If you try to downplay their feelings, you’ll only make yourself look bad and make the situation worse.

If the first-time review is positive, make sure that you thank them for taking the time — for the first time ever — to write a review, thank them for their words and let them know how much you appreciate their feedback and their service.

For example:

“Dear Sam, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. It means so much to us that we are the first business you’ve written a review for, and we’re so happy that you were pleased with our services! We appreciate that you gave us a shot and look forward to continuing to earn your business in the future!”

If the first-time review is negative, take the feedback to heart, apologize and invite the customer to call you or email you to discuss the matter further.

For example:

“Dear Ashley, since you don’t normally take the time to write a review, we sincerely appreciate you giving us this feedback. Our goal is to exceed our customer’s expectations, and we apologize that our service wasn’t up to par last week. We would love the chance to make it right and talk about the issue further, and we invite you to call us or email us at…”

The Gushing Review

These are the best kinds of reviews — the ones written by evangelists for your brand who believe you can do no wrong. These are the reviews that you want to shout from the rooftops and display anywhere and everywhere you can. When customers leave reviews like these, you never have to say that you’re the best again, because they’ll say it for you! These reviews reinforce everything you’ve claimed about your business, and since it’s coming from a customer instead of from you, it’ll be more believable to all of your prospective customers.

How should you respond?

Some business owners don’t think it’s necessary to respond to positive reviews at all, but here at Top Rated Local®, we recognize the importance of responding to every single review — yes, even the positive ones. If you don’t, it’s a missed opportunity.

It’s important to keep in mind that everyone will read the review, not just the person you are responding to, and your response gives you a great opportunity to reinforce the positives in the review and subtly brag about your business.

For example:

“Dear Michael, we are so glad that you were so happy with our work! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review. It is because of reviews like that that we’ve been recognized as the number one plumber in Dayton, and we couldn’t have done it without customers like you! We can’t wait to work with you again soon!”

The So-So Review

Reviews that are so-so are typically three stars, and they’re usually positive for the most part with one or two areas for improvement. The simple fact is that, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to please everyone completely. Additionally, some people will never give a business a perfect, five-star review, even if they were thrilled with the service.

However, three-star reviews have their own unique challenges. If only the reviewer gave one more star, it would be positive, but if they had given you one fewer star, it could end up hurting your online reputation. That’s why you need to be careful when you respond.

How should you respond?

Start crafting your response by thanking the customer for taking the time to write the review, as well as for their feedback, and let them know that you’re using it to improve your service. In your response, you’ll want to accept and offer gratitude for any praise, and make sure that you acknowledge and apologize for any disappointments or negatives. Above all, though, make it a point to ensure that the customer feels heard.

For example:

“Thank you so much, Katie, for taking the time to leave us a review. We’re so happy that you loved the salmon filet and sweet potatoes; it’s one of our most popular dishes! Thank you for letting us know that the cleanliness of the bathroom wasn’t up to your standards. It is our goal to ensure a great experience all around, and we’ve doubled our bathroom checks to make sure that it does not happen again. Should you decide to dine with us again, we would love to buy you a dessert!”

The One-Star Review

Sometimes, the stars align in a way that makes everything go wrong, and sometimes, the service you provide is next-level but the customer is simply determined to be unhappy. The good news is that the mere fact that the customer took the time to write the review means that the situation is redeemable. Of course, some people just want to vent and get their revenge, but in most cases, a one-star review is like a life preserver — your one last chance at saving the customer from leaving you forever. And if you respond correctly, you just might save them.

How should you respond?

Before we get into what to say in response, make sure that you feel cool and calm before you set out to write it. Extremely negative reviews like this can often feel like personal attacks, and if you respond in-kind, you’ll only achieve making yourself look bad in front of a bunch of potential clients, as well as the very real possibility that you could lose that customer forever. So no matter how negative or inflammatory the review, take a few minutes to take a deep breath and gather your thoughts.

The first thing that you should do is apologize, even if you don’t believe that you or your team did anything wrong. Don’t try to shift the blame or sidestep it; just be accountable and approach the response with a willingness to learn and get better. If there were specific circumstances that led to the issue, be honest about them without making excuses.

Make the problem right. Again, even if you don’t believe that you are at fault, it’s important to be the bigger person and to correct any issues. And the bigger the problem is, the more you should offer the customer in order to make up for it.

Last but not least, when responding to negative reviews, it’s important not to get into an online sparring match. As we mentioned, some customers just want to vent and aren’t looking for a solution, and it’s not helpful to have a public back and forth with them. That’s why it’s important to make your response concise and to the point, and invite the customer to continue the conversation offline and in private.

For example:

“Dear Jenny, we’re so sorry that your experience failed to meet your expectations, and we want you to know that we are willing to do whatever we can to make it right. On Saturday night, we experienced an emergency with one of our service vans that prevented our technician from getting there on time. We want you to know that communication is very important to us, and we’ve done further training with our technician to ensure that, if something like this happens again, he makes staying in communication with our customers his number one priority. We’d love to offer you a discounted service for your future needs, and we’d also love to talk with you more about this one on one. Please feel free to give us a call or email us at…”

The Fake Review

Some businesses fight dirty and are willing to take an underhanded approach to get ahead. At some point or another, you’ll probably come across a fake review. Luckily, fake reviews are generally easy to spot because they often highlight a product or service you don’t offer, or you might not have a record of ever having worked with that person before. In some cases, these kinds of reviews might be written by a competitor or an ex-employee with a grudge.

When you see a review that you think is fake, do a little research. If you can learn a little more about the person who wrote the review, you may be able to determine where the review is coming from and what their motivation is. But regardless of who wrote the review — just like with any other type of review — the most important thing is how you respond to it.

How should you respond?

You should never try to out a fake review in public directly. However, you can point out that you don’t have a record of working with that individual or have any knowledge of the issue they are referring to if that is the case. Like with negative reviews, you’ll want to avoid a public argument if at all possible, so invite the customer to call or email you to discuss the matter on a more personal level.

There’s nothing more infuriating than a fake review, but if you sink to their level, you’ll make yourself look worse in the end. If necessary, take a few days to gather your thoughts before you respond to the review, or write your response and wait 24 hours and read it over once more before you publish it.

If you really and truly believe that the review was left by a competitor or someone who has never been a customer of yours, there’s a slight chance that you could get the review taken down if you report it.

For example:

“Hello Jim, we apologize, but we don’t seem to have a record of working with you. We apologize that your experience was negative, and we’d love to make it right. Please contact us by email or phone to allow us to address the issue one on one.”

Take back your online reputation with the help of Top Rated Local®.

The moral to the story is that, while you can’t control what your customers say about you in reviews, you can control how you respond to them. Furthermore, it’s how you respond in each one of these cases that truly makes the biggest difference.

If you’re ready to take control of your online reputation and manage it like a pro, the first step you should take is to claim your Top Rated Local listing. With Top Rated Local, you’ll get real-time notifications when you receive reviews, monthly updates on your overall reputation, prioritized ranking on Google and a badge that you can display easily that tells the world that you are a Top Rated Local business in your area.

Claim your business’ Top Rated Local listing for free today!

Reputation Management Tips for Local Businesses

People who own local businesses often make the mistake of ignoring or failing to maintain their online reputation. Don’t miss out on the many benefits of online reputation management for your local business!

From restaurants to plumbers, every local business needs a great online reputation.

Your business’ online reputation matters, and that’s true regardless of how much business you actually do online. Whether you’re a mom-and-pop coffee shop or operate a full-blown retail store on your website, you absolutely need to take ownership of your business’ reviews and online reputation — the future and success of your business depend on it!

If you’ve had a chance to read our last blog — The Importance Of Reviews For Local Businesses — then you already have a good understanding of why reviews are so essential for your business’ online reputation. Today, we’ll be going over the many things you can do as a local business to build your business’ online reputation and keep it strong.

10 Reputation Management Tips Every Local Business Needs to Know

#1. Commit to providing great customer service.

A lot of things go into your business’ online reputation, but the most visible aspect of that reputation to prospective customers consists of the reviews your customers have given you. While a negative review here or there won’t hurt you, most business owners would prefer to have as many five-star reviews as possible. But here’s the thing — in order to get five-star reviews, you have to provide five-star service.

Great customer service is something that every business needs to prioritize, especially when you consider how much competition your typical local business has. For example, say you run a pool service company. Most other pool service companies offer similar services as you, and for a similar price as well. So what can you do to make your business stand out? Provide the kind of customer service that will wow your customers and make them want to go online to tell the world about it.

#2. Claim your business listings.

The first step any business should take in building and maintaining their online reputation is to claim your business listings on any and every possible review and/or directory platform. After all, your business is already listed, so you may as well reap all of the benefits that come with claiming the listing. Why is this important? Here are a few of the top reasons:

  • Build trust with your audience – When you claim your listing, you’re also making sure that any information about your business is accurate. That’s also why consumers tend to trust verified listings more than nonverified listings.
  • Respond to reviews – One of the biggest benefits of claiming your listing is that it allows you to respond to reviews about your business.
  • Increase your business’ visibility – Having multiple verified listings means that a link to your website exists on all of those sites — trusted sites that Google sees as authoritative — will help to improve your business’ rankings in the SERP (search engine results pages), making you more visible and getting your name in front of more people.

#3. Prioritize social media management.

Social media management is an essential part of any effective marketing strategy these days, but it’s simply not enough to have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc. You need to be active on social media. Social media a powerful tool for any business owner this day and age, because these platforms allow you to interact with a wider audience, develop your brand and learn all about the customers you’re targeting.

Another big benefit of being more active on social media is that it will help your posts — as well as your website — rank better in the SERP. This is especially important if there’s any negative information about your business out there. The more positive content you have, the further down in the results the negative information will be pushed.

A good social media management strategy includes researching your competition, getting to know your audience, sharing your story and posting interesting, original content on a regular basis.

#4. Pay attention to your online reputation.

Your online reputation is there — either growing or diminishing — all of the time, whether you are actively managing it or not. You can’t wish your business’ online reputation away, and ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist won’t help, either. That’s why, if you take nothing else away from this article, we hope you learn why it’s essential to pay close attention to your online reputation.

How can you possibly build the kind of online reputation you want, if you don’t know what kind of online reputation your business already has? It’s imperative that you monitor your online reputation closely so that you can be proactive about addressing any issues that come up. Plus, when you have a better understanding of what the online reputation your business already has, you can form a better plan to help you mold it into what you want it to be.

A few things you can do to stay on top of your business’ online reputation:

  • Set up Google Alerts – Google will notify you when new content containing keywords you preselect — like your business name — is published.
  • Monitor your reviews – Reviews can be published across a variety of platforms, but no matter where they are posted — or whether they are negative or positive — it’s important to respond as soon as you can, which means that you need to monitor your reviews.
  • Monitor blog comments – Blogging, as we’ll learn more about soon, is a great reputation management tool, but if you’ve opened comments up on your blog, you need to make it a point to monitor those comments.
  • Ask your customers! – It never hurts to ask your customers what they think about your business and how it’s perceived online.

#5. Write blogs on your website!

SEO is a vital part of your business’ online reputation management strategy. When you can ensure that the first few results in the SERP for specific keywords consist of your website, your Facebook page, your Instagram page, your LinkedIn page, etc., you can push down any results that may not be so favorable or positive for your business. But how do you ensure that your website ranks well on Google and other search engines? Publish new content on your website regularly!

The phrase, “content is king,” has been a mantra in the SEO industry since the beginning, and it still rings true today. Blogging is one of the best ways to do that, and as an added bonus, you can use your blogs to better inform and educate your customers. Blogs are also very shareable on social media sites, and they help to establish your reputation as a thought leader in your industry.

#6. Start asking for reviews.

A lot of business owners get hung up about the idea of asking their clients for reviews, and some of them even think that reviews that are asked for somehow aren’t legitimate. However, if you’re really dedicated to building an effective online reputation for your business, failing to ask for reviews is no longer an option.

A lot of people simply don’t write reviews on their own, because they don’t think about it. And if they do think about it, it’s probably because they are unhappy and want to vent a little about their experience. The simple fact is that people are much more likely to write a review on their own if they’re unhappy than if they were satisfied with their experience.

Asking for reviews helps to ensure that all customers, whether they’re happy or not, will get a chance to share their feedback with you and the world. Plus, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for reviews! As long as you’re not bribing customers to write a review or directing what your customers are saying in the reviews, there’s absolutely no reason to feel uneasy about asking for a review.

#7. Respond to every review.

While it’s important to ask for reviews, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to control what your customers choose to put in those reviews. You can only control what you do and how you respond to their feedback, and you absolutely should, regardless of whether that feedback comes in the form of a glowing, five-star review or a bleak, one-star review.

When someone leaves a five-star review about your business, make sure that you thank them for taking the time to write that review. As we mentioned, writing reviews doesn’t exactly come naturally to most people, so recognize the effort they took to write the review. And when someone leaves a negative review, it’s even more important to respond to it!

If the negative review consists of honest feedback for your business, take it to heart, apologize and take steps to make it right. And if the negative review consists of misleading or, worse, wasn’t even written one of your customers, responding will help you to set the record straight.

The bottom line is that responding to reviews allows you to control the conversation.

#8. Learn from your business’ reviews!

You can learn a lot about how your customers perceive your business by reading and paying attention to your online reviews. Of course, stuff happens, and one bad experience isn’t necessarily indicative of the kind of service you offer day in and day out. However, that doesn’t mean that those one-off issues aren’t important, or that you can’t learn anything from reading your reviews.

One of the best ways to learn what areas of your service need a little improvement is to look for overarching themes in your reviews — particularly the negative ones. For example, if eight people have complained about your technicians showing up late, it’s not a one-off issue — it’s an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed.

#9. Know what to do about fake reviews.

Fake reviews, as well as competitor reviews, occasionally happen. But like with everything else, it’s how you deal with those fake reviews that makes the biggest difference. Here’s what to do when you get a fake review:

  • Never point out that a review is fake – If you craft a response to a fake review, it’s not helpful to point out that it’s fake — this will only make you look petty. Instead, say something like, “We don’t have a record of having done business with you in the past, but we’d love to address your concern. We invite you to call or email us to discuss your experience.”
  • Flag the review with the website’s administrator – Some review sites allow businesses to flag reviews that aren’t appropriate. However, you should know that it can take a long time for a fake review to come down — and that’s if it comes down at all. But it doesn’t hurt to try!
  • Generate more authentic reviews! – The very best way to deal with fake reviews is to drown them out with legitimate reviews, so make it a point to start asking for them!

#10. Consider hiring a reputation management specialist.

An effective reputation management strategy won’t happen overnight and isn’t a one-time thing. Reputation management is a long-term strategy that has a lot of moving parts, and it can be a lot for a business owner to take on. If you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to your business’ online reputation, you aren’t doing it any favors.

Hiring a professional to help you manage your business’ online reputation will free you up to do what you do best — which is running your business!

Start managing your business’ online reputation with Top Rated Local®!

Your business’ online reputation can make or break your success, and we hope that these tips will give you a good idea about how to create the kind of reputation you want. One of the easiest things you can do to start taking control over your online reputation is to claim your listing with Top Rated Local today!

The Importance Of Reviews For Local Businesses

A lot of business owners mistakenly believe that, if they’re not selling products online, there’s no need to encourage their customers to leave reviews on Google, Facebook or any other platform. And if you’re one of them, you could be missing out in a number of ways.

The truth is, online reviews are important, regardless of whether you do business online or not.

If you don’t sell products or do a lot of other business online, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the belief that reviews don’t really matter. After all, you rely on face-to-face interactions with your customers every day. However, for local businesses everywhere, reviews are essential, and if you want your business to be a success, you need to start focusing on them.

Five Reasons Local Businesses Depend on Online Reviews

#1. Reviews help your business show up in search results.

In this day and age, most business owners realize that, without some kind of online presence, it’s impossible to stay competitive with other businesses in your industry and to attract new customers. That’s because, instead of checking a phonebook or getting a recommendation from a friend, most people look online first when they’re searching for a local dentist, plumber, etc.

Being online isn’t enough though — especially when you consider the amount of competition online today — your business needs to be able to be found by people who are using relevant search terms. According to a study conducted by Advanced Web Ranking, 67 percent of clicks go to the top five listings in the SERP (search engine results pages), and if your business doesn’t show up in the top five or even the first page, you may as well not have an online presence at all.

Luckily, online reviews can play a powerful role in your website’s SEO (search engine optimization). A key part of SEO is regularly adding new, fresh content, and posting customer reviews on your website is a great way to do that. Furthermore, customers will often use long-term keywords in their reviews, which will help your website rank better for more of those keywords. Plus, Google trusts consumers a lot more than they trust businesses, so when your customer describes you as “the best plumber in Colorado,” you’ll get much better results than if you were to claim that about yourself.

#2. Reviews are the new word of mouth.

Every day, we write featured articles for our Top Rated Local award winners across the country. Because of this, we get to talk with the men and women who own these award-winning businesses every day to find out what makes them different and how they have managed to build such a successful business. We’ve learned quite a bit in these interviews with business owners, but one of the biggest things that stand out to us is how many of them rely heavily on word of mouth for new business.

Word of mouth is an incredibly important marketing tool for many reasons:

  • It’s free! – If you have a lot of word of mouth, you don’t need to invest so much in expensive, out-bound marketing strategies that end with mixed results.
  • People trust their friends and family – Not only can advertising be expensive, but people are a lot less likely to trust ads than they are to trust their friends, neighbors and family.
  • It’s the gift that keeps on giving – You don’t have to reinvest in word of mouth to keep it going. Simply focus on doing a good job, and let your customers spread the word for you.

While word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools available to you, online reviews aren’t too far behind. In fact, 84 percent of people now say that they trust an online review as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend. That’s staggering, especially when you consider the fact that most people these days are more likely to look do a little online research before consulting a friend for a referral.

#3. Reviews help you gain more valuable insight into your business.

Most business owners honestly and truly want to do the best they can for their customers and to provide them with the best services or products. And in order to do that, you need to pay close attention to what your customers like and don’t like about what you’re offering. Here are a few reasons as to why getting that feedback in the form of reviews is so helpful:

  • People are most honest in reviews – Most people don’t like confrontation or the idea of telling something off to their face, and when you ask for feedback in person, it can lead to dishonest or at least incomplete feedback. Since reviews don’t happen face-to-face, it makes customers feel more willing to openly communicate how they really feel.
  • Customers can take their time and organize their thoughts in a review – When you ask a client for feedback on the spot, they may not have had enough time to fully understand the product or service in question. For instance, say you’re a painting contractor. Immediate feedback is great, but if the customer has had time to truly inspect the work, it will help them provide you with better feedback.
  • Reviews allow you to revisit feedback – Feedback of any kind can be valuable, but with a review, you have a permanent record that you can look back on for references and revist when you need to.

#4. Reviews from the basis of your online reputation.

Your business’ online reputation is important for so many reasons, and almost nothing is more important for your business’ online reputation than reviews. Your reviews — as well as your overall rating score — are the first thing people see about a local business when the map results pop up on Google. And chances are, the more reviews you have and the higher star rating you have, the more likely those people are to visit your website and take advantage of your services.

With so much competition in your industry and so many consumers looking for the very best company to work with online, your online reputation could quite literally make or break your business. Think about it — if you’re deciding between two restaurants, and one has a handful or two- or three-star reviews, while the other has hundreds of five-star reviews, which one would you be likely to choose?

The bottom line is that reviews — even if the only thing consumers know about them is how many there are and what the average rating score is — are one of the first things potential customers come into contact with. When you take the time to focus on getting more reviews for your business, you can make it a point to ensure that your first impression is a good one.

#5. Reviews help to build trust with new customers!

Trust is a vitally important part of your business’ success, both online and offline. In fact, it could be argued that establishing trust is the number one reason why businesses market at all. However, trust isn’t an easy thing to develop, probably because it’s one of those rare things that can only be earned or built over time, and you certainly won’t be able to build it overnight. Luckily, one of the easiest ways to establish more trust is with online reviews.

Every business claims to be the best at what they do, and every business owner will tell you that their business is capable and able to handle anything and everything. But not all businesses are created equal, and they can’t all be the best business.

These days, consumers don’t have to take a business’ word for it. With so many reviews to choose from, they can gain insight into what it’s like to work with a business without ever having to do so themselves — or having to know someone personally who has. If a potential customer sees that you’ve had hundreds of reviews with an average rating of 4.75 stars, it will give them confidence in your service and help to establish your reputation as a trustworthy business.

Getting more reviews is just the first step.

No matter what industry you are in or how much business you do online, you should never downplay the importance of online reviews for your business — yes, even if it’s a local business. So make it a point to start asking for reviews with each and every customer interaction.

Getting more reviews is a great first step towards building the kind of online reputation you want, but you shouldn’t stop there. Take ownership over your business entire online reputation with the help of Top Rated Local. With the five-pillars of customer service behind them, customers are able to leave more helpful reviews, and businesses are able to say goodbye to common pitfalls, like fake reviews and competitor reviews.

See the difference for yourself! Get your business listed for free today!

How Many Reviews Does Your Business Need?

Reviews are important for both consumers and business owners alike. They help consumers make more informed buying decisions and help businesses get better and make their customers happier. But how many reviews does your business need?

When it comes to reviews, there’s no magic number.

The number of reviews you’ll need for your business to show up and stand out on review sites depends on the sites themselves. For example, for a local business, you only need a few reviews on Google in order for your star rating to be displayed in local searches. However, if you have an online store and you want your star rating to show up in Adwords campaigns, you’ll need to have at least 150 reviews. Every review platform has its own requirements and suggestions, and it’s up to you, as the business owner, to determine where your priorities lie.

How many reviews will prospective customers actually read?

When determining how many reviews you’ll need to stand out on review platforms and ensure that prospective customers choose you, it’s important to know exactly how many reviews customers might read.

Research has found that most people — 90 percent of consumers in fact — will read 10 reviews or fewer in order to make a buying decision, and 68 percent of consumers will read between one and six reviews before making a decision.

Because most consumers only read 10 reviews, it might lead you to believe that, once you have 10 reviews, you can be done with it. But that’s not the case, and when it comes to reviews, the more you can get, the better off you’ll be.

Why getting more reviews should always be high on your priority list.

#1. Consumers often look at the number of reviews a business has.

When people are reading your business’ reviews, they aren’t just reading the individual reviews; they are looking at how many reviews you’ve gotten. According to a study from BrightLocal, when judging a business, 44 percent of consumers said that they looked at the quantity of a business’ reviews rather than just the quality.

So even if you have a perfect average star rating of five-stars, it means very little to consumers if you only have a handful of reviews. The more reviews you have, the more impressive a high average star rating will be and the more forgivable a lower average rating will be.

#2. Newer reviews are more trustworthy than older reviews.

Even if you have thousands of reviews, they won’t help you much if you got them years or even months ago. Consumers aren’t just looking at your average star rating or the number of reviews you have; they want to know that you’ve gotten reviews recently. The longer you’ve had a review, the less relevant it is to consumers. In fact, according to a study conducted by Trustpilot, 65 percent of consumers believe a review is too old after one year, 36 percent after six months, and 16 percent after just three months.

In order to keep your reviews relevant, you need to constantly get new ones, which means that your focus on getting reviews should never waver.

#3. Bad reviews don’t hurt as much when you have a lot of reviews.

The first things people look at when they’re learning about your business is the total number of reviews you have and your overall average star rating. What your reviews actually say and how recent they were posted are also important, but if your rating score is too low, people aren’t likely to take the time to actually dive into your review to see what they say.

While a perfective five-star average may not be within your grasp, it’s important to ensure that your rating score is as high as possible, and when you have a greater number of reviews, one bad review won’t hurt your score as much as it would if you only had a few reviews.

#4. More reviews will make your business more visible online.

In addition to the impression it makes on prospective customers, having a lot of reviews is also important for your business’ online visibility in general. The more reviews your business has, the better your website will rank for relevant local searches. According to a study from Local SEO Guide, reviews that include keywords were the second-highest factor when determining a business’ performance in ranking among the map results in local searches.

If your business doesn’t rank on Google, it may as well not exist at all, as most people doing local searches don’t look past the first page of search results. And while there are many things that are factored in when determining your business’ ranking, getting more reviews is one of the most effective and easiest things you can do to improve your business’ organic rankings.

#5. The more reviews you get, the better your business can be.

Successful businesses aren’t out just to serve a few people; they’re out to serve as many people and as wide an audience as possible. That means that, when it comes to customer feedback, the more feedback you can get from the most people, the more information you’ll have to make your business better for everyone.

Reviews aren’t just a tool to help consumers find you online, or to help consumers learn more about what kind of service you have to offer; if you pay attention to what they say, they’re a great tool for gaining valuable insight into your business.

Manage your online reputation like a pro with Top Rated Local.

Reviews are important, and although there’s no magic number of reviews you should shoot for, the more you have, the better off you’ll be, and getting reviews should be your consistent focus. Luckily, no matter how many reviews you get, Top Rated Local® is here to help you manage your reviews and your online reputation like a professional.

Top Rated Local was designed to help consumers get down to the bottom of what working with a company is really like by capturing the overall customer experience based on five main pillars, while giving businesses the ability to overcome everyday issues that can hurt their online reputation, like fake reviews and competitor reviews. With Top Rated Local, businesses and consumers are both empowered, and you won’t find anything else like it out there. The best part is that it’s absolutely free to get your business listed, and you have nothing to lose!

What are you waiting for? Get your business listed today to become the Top Rated Local experts in your area!

How to Read Online Reviews Objectively

Reviews can be helpful, but they are incredibly subjective, and if you want to glean the most insight into a business’ reviews, it’s important to learn how to read them objectively.

Learning to read reviews objectively will help you make better buying decisions.

Whether you’re looking for the right HVAC company to fix your air conditioner or you’re hoping to make the right decision about which grill to purchase on Amazon, you rely on the reviews to help you make the right decision. However, reviews are incredibly subjective, and if you want to learn valuable information about the product or the business, you have to learn to read them objectively.

Five Tips to Help You Read Reviews More Objectively

Tip #1. Read multiple reviews.

Whatever business you’re planning on hiring or product you’re planning on purchasing is sure to have both positive and negative reviews online. If there are only one-star reviews, then that tells you a lot about the product or the business right there, and if there are only five-star reviews, it’s a red flag that not all of them are authentic.

Reading several reviews — including a good mix of both positive and negative reviews — will give you a better idea of the kind of service the business offers on a regular basis. It can be difficult to get a good idea of what working with a business is like when you read about just one customer’s experience. But when you read several, it’ll give you the information you need to make the right decision for you.

Tip #2. Check out reviews on multiple platforms.

You should never rely on just one review platform when you’re making a decision about which product to buy or which company to work with. Chances are, that business or product is listed on multiple review platforms, and if you read reviews from just one, you’re limiting the amount of information you can gain from the reviews.

Our advice is to read a few reviews from every platform the business or product is listed on. This way, if the business has focused on maintaining just one of those platforms, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of what working with them is really like.

Tip #3. Ignore reviews that are overly specific.

When you’re reading reviews, you’re trying to gain an understanding of the general experience that most people have with a business or a product. This can be challenging when you consider the fact that most people who write reviews are writing them from their own standpoint. This kind of subjectivity gets in the way and hinders your ability to make the right decision on what to do with your money.

If a review mentions a specific employee by name, it’s a big red flag that the review you’re reading isn’t objective. For one, that employee may not even work for the company anymore, or they may have even been filling in temporarily. Either way, if a review talks about a specific employee, then it can’t really tell you much about the business in general.

Tip #4. Look for themes in five-star and one-star reviews.

Reading a handful of both five-star and one-star reviews is a great way to learn a lot about a business or a product quickly, but it’s important to read several in order to gain the best understanding of what you can expect. And when you do, make it a point to look for overarching themes.

Here’s a great example:

When looking for a set of free weights online, I had settled on two different products. Both of the products had a decent average star rating with hundreds of reviews. Upon reading several one-star reviews for both products, I learned that, on product A, a lot of people complained that the weights fell off of the bar and wouldn’t secure tightly enough, and on product B, most of the complaints centered around a chemical smell coming off of the weights. While I was not willing to take the risk of weights falling on my head, I was completely willing to accept the risk that my weights might have an odor.

Tip #5. Don’t just settle for reading one-star and five-star reviews.

While it’s important that you read one-star and five-star reviews on a business or a product, you don’t want to forget about all of the other reviews in between. In most cases, if a customer is happy enough to leave a five-star review, they may be willing to overlook issues other customers may have noticed. The same goes for customers who leave one-star reviews; they are often extremely upset — too upset to leave objective feedback.

Reading more two-star, three-star and four-star reviews is a great way to get down to the brass tacks of the issue. That’s because if a reviewer is truly being objective, they’re probably unlikely to see their experience as truly spectacular or truly horrendous. In most cases, the true experience lies somewhere in the middle, in the two-, three- and four-star reviews.

Tip #6. Check the reviewer’s previous submissions.

We all have varying opinions and beliefs, and it can be difficult to trust a purchasing decision to someone you’ve never met and have no idea whether or not they hold similar beliefs and opinions. And when the most information you have about a person consists of three sentences about a business or a product, it’s not easy to tell where they stand on things.

This is why it’s important to learn more of the reviewer’s thoughts and opinions by reading more of their reviews. This is especially helpful if they’ve reviewed something you’ve already bought or a business you’ve already worked with. But in general, even if you have no experience with other business or products the individual has reviewed, reading several reviews they’ve written will help you learn if they are super nitpicky or if they are extremely easy to please.

Tip #7. Take angry or vindictive reviews with a grain of salt.

Some people review a business because they want to help others gain a good perspective on the kind of service or products they have to offer, and some people review a business so that they can provide them with feedback they can use to get better and meet their customers’ needs more effectively. However, when some people write reviews, they do so because of reasons that are a little more nefarious.

If someone has had a particularly bad experience with a business, or even if they just don’t like the business owner or the employee who helped them, they might write a review out of spite to try to make the employee or company look bad. Watch out for profane language or threats in reviews, or personal attacks on details that have little to nothing to do with the product or service the business offers. And if you do notice these things in a review, disregard it or at least take it with a grain of salt.

Here’s a great example:

One of 2018’s Top Rated Local award winners had just one or two negative reviews on Facebook, one of which was from an angry woman who was upset that the individual driving the company’s van cut her off on the road. When you’re hiring a company to paint your home, whether or not their technician has ever cut anyone off on the road has very little bearing on the type of job they’ll do or the quality of their work.

#8. Consider the timing of the review.

When you’re trying to get an overall picture of what working with a company is like, it’s important to read several reviews. However, you can’t just pick a few random reviews in the hopes that they’ll give you the information you need. Instead, you really need to look at when those reviews were left.

For example, say a business has been around for 10 years and now have different owners. The reviews from six years ago probably don’t have a lot to do with the people who work for the business now or the kind of service they provide. Things are constantly changing, and the only way to get a good idea of what it’s like to work with a company now is to read about the most recent experiences their customers have had with them.

#9. Read the response from the business.

Reviews give us a very one-sided look at what it’s like to work with a business, and while learning about one side of the story can be helpful, it doesn’t give you the complete picture that you’re probably looking for. That’s why, if a company has taken the time to respond to its reviews, it’s important that you take the time to read them.

Reading a company’s response can be especially powerful when it comes to negative reviews. If a review isn’t legitimate or wasn’t written by a legitimate customer, the company will often respond to that effect. But even in the event that the review is legitimate and comes from a real customer or client, reading the company’s response will help you learn what kind of customer service they offer.

Because companies are built and maintained by human beings, mistakes are bound to happen. When you read the company’s responses to reviews, it gives you insight into how they fix their mistakes and win back unhappy customers — which is what true customer service is all about.

#10. Watch out for red flags.

If you’ve had a chance to read our previous blog — How to Determine if a Review is Fake — then you already know that fake reviews do exist, and they are unfortunately more common than many people are aware of. It’s not always easy to tell a fake review from a legitimate one, but there are some red flags that you can watch out for, and we went over many of them in our previous blog, so be sure to check it out.

Find the right local business for your needs with Top Rated Local.

Reviews, on the surface, can give you a lot of information about what it’s like to work with a business, but it’s important to know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to read them. We hope that this blog has given you some insight into what to look for in reviews and how to make the most out of business reviews.

If you’re sick of trying to separate the myth from the legend — the authentic from the fake — you’ve come to the right place. Top Rated Local was designed to help businesses overcome everyday obstacles, like fake reviews and competitor reviews, giving customers more insight and business owners more constructive feedback. So, the next time you’re looking for a plumber, a daycare center or any other local service, start with Top Rated Local!

How to Determine if a Review is Fake

Whether you’re a business owner trying to maintain your business’ online reputation or you’re a consumer trying to get the 411 on a product or service, it pays to know how to tell the real reviews from the fake ones.

Fake reviews are not always easy to spot.

Reviews are a powerful thing. They give businesses feedback that they can use to better serve their clients, and they give consumers information that helps them make purchasing decisions and figure out which companies to hire. However, this is only true of real reviews, and unfortunately, fake reviews are more common than you might think. In fact, in February, the FTC brought the first successful case challenging fake paid reviews.

Fake reviews aren’t helpful to anyone, and when you’re searching for a good or service online, or you’re trying to determine where your business stands online, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between a legitimate review and a fake review.

How to Tell if a Review is Fake

#1. Pay attention to the timing.

In general, if a higher than average amount of reviews has been published at one time, it’s a red flag that at least some of those reviews aren’t real. There are, of course, exceptions, like after a product has launched, the day after Black Friday or the day after Christmas. However, in most cases, if a lot of reviews have been published at one time for one business or product, it’s because there has been a targeted campaign to add artificial reviews.

Another thing to consider with the timing of a review is when the product or service being reviewed was launched. If there are a ton of five-star reviews for a product or a service that hasn’t even been released yet, they likely aren’t authentic.

#2. Check the username.

No matter what review platform you’re posting on, your review is attached to your profile, which is generally your first and last name, particularly on sites like Google and Facebook. One of the easiest ways to spot a fake review is by simply checking out the individual who wrote it. If the username is “John Smith” or “Jane Doe,” there’s a good chance it’s not legitimate.

#3. Check the profile picture.

Not every legitimate review will have a profile picture or an avatar attached to it, and a lack of image isn’t always going to be a red flag that a review is fake. However, a lot of times, fake reviewers aren’t from the United States, and when they pull an image from the internet to use as their profile pictures, they often will accidentally select an image of a celebrity.

#4. Keep an eye out for verified purchases.

According to a study by Fakespot, 30 percent of Amazon reviews are unreliable or fake, and an estimated 52 percent of reviews on are inauthentic. However, both Amazon and have given their clients an easy way to tell the difference between fake reviews and real ones — by making it clear which reviewers actually purchased the product. When you’re reading reviews on sites like Amazon and, it’s important to look for that “verified purchase” badge.

#5. Check the spelling and grammar.

Your 10th grade English teacher probably isn’t proofreading your reviews, and no one expects perfection. However, because a lot of fake reviews come from people overseas whose first language isn’t English, poor spelling or grammar could be a red flag that a review is fake.

We’re not talking about a missing comma or a misspelled word or two. Watch out for words used in the completely wrong context or big spelling and grammar errors that the average American wouldn’t make.

#6. Be wary of repeat words or phrases.

A lot of times, fake reviewers are paid to present products or services in a certain way, to use specific words or phrases to describe them or to help a page rank for certain long-tail keywords. That’s why, when you’re reading reviews, it’s important to be mindful about any words or phrases that are repetitive throughout the review.

#7. Steer clear of reviews that use a lot of industry lingo.

If a company is trying to make themselves look good by writing their own reviews, they may accidentally use industry lingo that can give them away. By “industry lingo,” we mean words or phrases used by professionals in the industry but are rarely — if ever — uttered by customers.

#8. Watch out for overly negative reviews.

While people do legitimately have bad experiences with different businesses, an overly negative review in all caps or with 15 exclamation points can be a sign that the review is inauthentic. This is especially true if the review attempts to push a different product or service on the reader as an alternative.

#9. Look at the reviewer’s profile.

One great way to tell a fake review from a real one is to do some research into the person who left the review. On many review sites, you can check out the other reviews the individual has left on the site, which can give you a lot of insight into whether or not the review you’re reading is real.

Most people aren’t all that active when it comes to writing reviews, and it’s normal if they’ve only posted one or two, or at the most, a handful of reviews throughout the year. However, if you’ve noticed that the person in question has published 20 reviews in a day, there’s a good chance those reviews aren’t real.

#10. Check out the business or product’s other reviews.

Reading some of the other reviews on a product or business can help you determine if the review in question is real or not. For example, if a business has 400 reviews that are mostly five-stars, then it’s important to look closely at the one or two one-star reviews they have. No one is perfect, and no business can please every customer, but it’s smart to take one-off reviews like that with a grain of salt. Even if they aren’t fake, they clearly also aren’t indicative of the kind of service most people can expect from that business.

Gain a better perspective and more control with Top Rated Local.

Top Rated Local utilizes five pillars of the customer experience to help readers capture the overall customer experience and reviewers to organize their thoughts in a more concise way. It was also designed to solve the problems faced by local businesses on review platforms, including fake reviews.

So whether you’re a consumer looking to make better, more informed purchasing decisions or a business owner who wants more control over your online reputation, Top Rated Local can help. Sign your business up today for free, or browse businesses online to find the right option for your needs.

Your Guide to Showcasing Customer Reviews

Reviews are a very powerful thing for your business’ online reputation, as well as for its overall success. But have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get even more out of your reviews?

Showcase your reviews to get the most out of them!

Even if you never do anything but let your reviews sit on Google, Yelp, Facebook and any other review site they were published on, they’ll do your business a lot of good. Reviews help with everything from SEO (search engine optimization) to credibility and trustworthiness, but that’s not all they can do!

With a little know-how, you can make every five-star review you get go a lot further!

A note about showcasing reviews:

A negative review can be a powerful thing, and for reasons that are both psychological and — believe it or not — physiological — people are naturally more drawn to negative reviews and have a tendency to give them a lot more weight than positive reviews. This fact alone makes taking the time to showcase your positive reviews is well worth it.

Seven Ways to Showcase Outstanding Customer Reviews

#1. Publish reviews on your website.

Your website is a great place to publish reviews you want to highlight or are especially proud of. And when you do, you may even enjoy a subsequent boost in sales, as reviews help to establish trust and give buyers more confidence.

At Top Rated Local, we’ve seen a lot of businesses publish reviews on the front page of their website, which is a great way to get attention with them, but they also work beautifully on testimonial pages, as well as relevant product pages and pages for any specific services mentioned in the reviews.

You could also utilize a positive review to give credence to what you say on your ‘About Us’ page. For example, every business says they’re the best, but when you publish a customer review also backing up your claim, your customers don’t have to take your word for it!

#2. Share reviews on social media.

If a customer has left you a five-star review on your social media page, especially if it was well-written and tells a story that tugs at the heartstrings or otherwise stirs up emotion, sharing it on social media is a great way to ensure that it gets noticed.

Posting on social media is something you should be doing on a regular basis. Luckily, posting a review every now and then will give you a break from constantly having to come up with new content to publish on your social media pages, and it gives you the opportunity to thank your client for taking the time to share their experience in a public way, as well as to brag on your business without having to be the one to brag.

#3. Utilize reviews in print ads.

Online reviews don’t have to be used strictly online! They are a great way to make any print advertising you do more trustworthy and comfortable. Regardless of whether you’re putting reviews in newspaper ads, magazine ads or even in direct mailers, they’ll go a long way toward making your business look good.

When it comes to adding reviews to print ads, direct mail may be your most impactful option. Surprisingly enough, in the digital age, direct mail is still an incredibly effective way to get your business’ name out there, and a lot of consumers have come to know and trust direct mail, even if they don’t love it. Because direct mail already enjoys so much trust, you can make a direct mail campaign even more effective by incorporating your online reviews in your mailers, postcards and other marketing items.

#4. Display reviews in your store/office.

Some reviews are so perfect that they are worth framing — literally.

If you’ve received a real show-stopper of a review, and you’d love to spread the word about it high and low, one cute and effective way to utilize it is by printing it out in a nice font, framing it and hanging it in your store or office.

Having a great review hanging in your store or office is an effective way to remind yourself of the standard of service you want to set and reach each and every day. It also shows anyone who comes into your business what kind of service you strive to offer.

#5. Publish reviews in your monthly newsletter.

Sending out a monthly newsletter is a great way to keep your customers informed about what’s going on in your business, including any promotions or sales that are coming up, any big projects you’ve recently completed, what you can help them with, etc. These newsletters are also the perfect place to share reviews that your especially proud of.

Part of your monthly newsletter should include updates on what your business has been up to for the last month, and if you’ve received a five-star review in that time, there’s no better way to showcase it than in your newsletter. Sharing reviews in a newsletter is powerful because you can give it context and add more information to help your readers get more out of it.

#6. Write about great reviews on your blog.

If you know anything about SEO (search engine optimization), it’s probably that content is king — which it is. Adding fresh, unique content to your website on a regular basis is the number one most effective thing you can do to improve and maintain your website’s organic ranking on search engines. But adding all of that content on a regular basis can get old, and it’s not always easy to think of new topics to write about. Luckily, reviews help you break the mold!

You could promote your reviews on your blog in a couple of different ways:

  • Tell the story of a great experience with one customer, highlighting that specific review. If the customer is willing, you could also ask them about doing a case study with them or interviewing them further about their experience.
  • If you’re writing a blog based on a specific product or service, you could pull a list of several reviews that you think give valuable information on the product or service.

#7. Display reviews on the shelf.

Product reviews are powerful things, but you don’t have to limit using them to online marketing and promotion! If a particular product in your brick and mortar store has a stand-out, five-star review online, you can utilize it in your in-store marketing efforts to great effect.

Displaying outstanding product reviews on shelf displays is a superb way to bring attention to products. Plus, it lets your reviewer explain the benefits of purchasing the product, which not only gives you a break but also makes for more credible and convincing claims. Having a review on display will also help to establish more trust in the product and could lead to an increase in sales!

Make the most of your online reputation with Top Rated Local®.

Building and managing your online reputation can be challenging, but when you have the right tools in front of you — as well as the knowledge of how best to use those tools — there’s nothing stopping you from building the kind of online reputation for your business that you want. Top Rated Local is here to help.

Get your business listed for free today!

Why You Should Start Asking for Reviews

Reviews are not always easy to come by, but they are an essential part of your business’ success, both online and off. Consider the fact that 97 percent of customers read online reviews, and you’ll see just how powerful they can be, and why your business can’t survive without them.

There’s no better way to get reviews than to ask!

There are many business owners out there who don’t like the idea of asking for reviews. They seem to think that any reviews that result from asking won’t be genuine or honest. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if you’re asking you’re asking your customers to write a review based on their experience instead of dictating what you would like them to say in the review. By asking for reviews, all you’re asking for is feedback and for a glimpse into their experience with your business.

However, if you’re still one of those business owners who is on the fence about asking for a review, you should know that you’re not alone, and today, we’ve set out to help you understand just how important reviews are and why you should ask every customer for one.

8 Reasons to Start Asking for Reviews

#1. Bad reviews come more naturally than good ones.

When we’ve had a bad experience, it’s human nature to want to talk about it and share it. Clifford Nass, who teaches communications at Stanford University said on the matter:

“Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.”

You might be surprised to learn that the reasons for this aren’t just psychological; they’re physiological. Here’s what Professor Nass had to say about it:

“The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.”

So you see, the need to share bad experiences is wired into us. In fact, a survey of that was conducted by Dimensional Research found that respondents who had bad interactions were 50 percent more likely to share their experience on social media than respondents who had positive interactions and they were 52 percent more likely to share it on a review site, like Yelp or Google.

#2. Most people won’t write reviews on their own.

While 97 percent of consumers will read reviews before buying a product or hiring a company for a service, according to Pew Research, only about one in 10 Americans will actually write reviews consistently.

Another survey, that was conducted to determine how often customers leave reviews for local businesses found that:

  • Approximately 36 percent of respondents said they never leave reviews.
  • Approximately 25 percent said they almost never leave reviews.
  • Approximately 26 percent said they leave one to five reviews per year.
  • Approximately 8 percent said they leave reviews 6 to 11 times per year.
  • Approximately 5 percent said they leave 12 or more reviews per year.

No matter how happy you make your clients or how much you go above and beyond the call of duty, the sad truth is that most of them probably won’t take the time to write a review for you. However, there is hope, and it lies in asking for reviews!

You might be surprised to learn that, even though so few people will write reviews on their own, about 70 percent of consumers are willing to take the time to write a review for your business, you just have to be willing to ask them to!

#3. Reviews can boost your website’s SEO.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital part of any business’ success these days because it determines where you rank when people search for important terms related to your business, or even when people search for your business name! And the most important lesson of modern marketing is — if your business doesn’t show up on page one, it may as well not exist.

This is not to say that your business isn’t important or that you’ll never get any traffic to your website if you don’t show up on page one, but considering the fact that 75 percent of people never even get past the first page of results on search engines, if your business isn’t listed on page one, you’ll have a much smaller pool of visitors to work with.

How do reviews help with SEO? Reviews help your site rank in a number of essential ways — they can increase your click-through rate, help to establish trust in your business, increase the amount of unique content associated with your website and more. In fact, it’s estimated that reviews make up for approximately 10 percent of the factors that go into how businesses are ranked on search engines — which is a fairly high percent when you consider the vast array of other things Google’s algorithm picks up on, like site speed, site authority, the quality of the content, etc.

The bottom line is that, while reviews probably shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on if you want to improve your website’s organic rankings, getting reviews should certainly be a key part of your strategy.

#4. Reviews make your customers feel heard and important.

Whether you’ve provided someone with a truly great experience or a not-so-great experience, people like to express themselves and want to be heard when they do. When you ask your customer to give you feedback on their experience in the form of a review, you’re demonstrating to them that you truly value what they have to say and care about their opinion.

Even if you or your team dropped the ball with a customer, taking the time to ask them to write a review and share their feedback could help to steady the course. This is especially true if you utilize their feedback to make changes within your business. Because you took the time to ask that they share their feedback in a review and listened to that feedback, they now feel like they are involved in your business and had a hand in shaping your services or products.

#5. Reviews help to increase conversions and sales.

Do you sell products online? Did you know that including product reviews on your product pages themselves could actually help you make more sales? One study found that 63 percent of customers are more likely to purchase a product with a review than a product without a review. Another study found that by simply having reviews on your website, you can increase your sales by up to 18 percent, which is incredibly impactful, particularly since most e-commerce websites only covert at one to three percent.

Not only does having reviews on your products help to increase sales, but as we discussed in our third point, those reviews will also help your products rank higher in search results!

#6. Reviews help you gain insightful feedback into your business.

Most business owners understand how important is it for their customers and clients to leave happy and satisfied with their service, and their number one goal is to earn that satisfaction. If this describes the kind of business owner you are, then you should know that there’s no better way to get real, honest feedback about your business than in a review.

Asking for feedback in person is great, and while most people will be fairly honest with you in person, some aren’t willing to complain or seem rude in order to get a point across. However, when you ask for a review, it gives them a chance to be truly honest and straightforward about their experience without having to actually look you in the eye.

While not every review will have substantive feedback that will help you mold your business into one that better suits your clients and meets their needs, the more reviews you get, the more insight you’ll have.

One other reason as to why reviews are so important is that they give you a glimpse into how your customers perceive your business. Perception is reality, and when you’re busy helping customers and getting things done in the moment, it’s not always to figure out how your customers are perceiving your business. But when you are able to read their review, you’ll know exactly how they perceive you.

#7. Reviews make your business appear more credible.

Back in the day before people started searching for everything from plumbers to coffee on the internet, most people turned to their friends and neighbors for referrals when they needed to work with a new business or buy a new product. And while word of mouth is still incredibly powerful today, the vast majority of consumers will first look to a Google search on their mobile phone before calling a friend for a recommendation. These days, reviews haven’t exactly replaced word of mouth, but they are the modern-day equivalent.

It’s not easy to trust a business you don’t know or have never heard of with your money, and reviews help to provide consumers with more confidence about their purchasing decisions. If they can see that you have a lot of reviews, they’ll see your business as more credible and trustworthy because other people have vetted your business for them.

It’s for this reason that having a negative review or two is so important as well. If you have all five-star reviews, a lot of people see that as fishy and will automatically assume that at least some of those reviews are fake. Consumers understand that the people who operate businesses are human beings who make mistakes, and when you have a mix of both positive and negative reviews, it brings out your humanity and helps to establish more trust and credibility.

#8. Reviews help to make all of your marketing efforts more effective!

Marketing is an important part of getting your name out there and spreading the word about what you do, but it takes an investment of time and money in order for it to be effective. But luckily, reviews can help to make your marketing efforts more effective and successful for free!! Here’s how:

  • Reviews give your marketers insight into what truly matters to your clients, which will help them to highlight those features in ads.
  • Reviews help your marketers understand the kind of language your clients are using when they search for your product or brand online, which they can use to further boost your organic online presence.
  • Reviews can provide valuable knowledge to your marketers about which product or service gets talked about the most so that they can highlight and feature them on your website and in ads.
  • Reviews tell your marketers which questions need to be answered and which concerns need to be mollified in ads or descriptions.

Now that you know why it’s important to ask for reviews, it’s time to learn how to ask for them, which we’ll be discussing in our next blog.

With Top Rated Local®, you’re in control over your online reputation.

Asking for reviews is an essential part of maintaining the kind of online reputation you want, but a good online reputation involves more than just getting reviews. And with Top Rated Local, you’ll have all of the tools you need available to you to help you build and maintain the kind of online presence you want for your business. Best of all, this one-of-a-kind program helps to eliminate all of those things that trip up business owners when it comes to their online reputation, like fake reviews, competitor reviews and more. Not only does this help businesses keep dishonest and fake information from ruining their online reputations, but it also gives consumers a more honest insight into what working with the business is really like.

If you’re ready to start taking your online reputation into your hands, get your business listed for free today!

Common Myths About Online Reputation Management Part 2

Every business owner wants to have the kind of online reputation that help them get noticed and attract new customers because, in this day and age, the kind of online reputation you have can make or break your business. But it’s important that you don’t let the many myths about online reputation management hold you back from reaching your goals.

It’s time to stop believing the myths about reputation management.

Online reputation management seems straightforward enough, but it’s a topic that’s widely misunderstood, particularly by the people who need to understand it most — business owners! A great online reputation can make a world of difference for any small business, but in order to build that kind of online reputation, it’s vitally important that you know the facts about online reputation management.

That’s why, in our previous blog, we separated the myths from the facts by going over five of the most common myths about online reputation management. Keep reading to learn about five more.

Five More Myths About Online Reputation Management.

Myth #6. You should never ask a client to write you a review.

Over the past year and a half, Top Rated Local has been recognizing the top 100 businesses in each state in the U.S., as well as the top five businesses across a variety of industries. We’ve reached out and interviewed the owners of many of these businesses so that we highlight their victories and learn about their path to success.

One of the first questions we ask these business owners is, “What is your secret to such a strong online reputation?” Around half of the business owners we interview proudly tell us that they aren’t afraid to ask for reviews; while, the other half seems to think that asking for a review means that it’s somehow illegitimate. Well, we’re here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for reviews, and it’s actually one of the best ways to ensure that people actually take the time to write you one.

Why there’s nothing wrong with asking for a review.

When you’re asking for a review, you’re not asking for a five-star review or for your client to say certain things in your review. You’re simply asking for feedback so that you can continue to serve your clients to the best of your ability. You’re also asking for your client to share their experience with others so that they can make more informed decisions about what they need.

Myth #7. If you have good customer service, your online reputation will take care of itself.

In this day and age, good customer service goes a long way, and that’s true regardless of the size of your business and regardless of what industry you’re in. However, when it comes to your online reputation, good customer service often falls short.

People expect great service, and oftentimes, it takes a whole lot of time and energy to really wow someone. And even if you are able to make them stop and take notice based on your customer service alone, a lot of people just don’t think about going online to write a review — unless it’s negative of course.

Did you know?

Customers who are unhappy or have had a bad experience are up to three times more likely to write a review on their own than customers who are satisfied or happy. It’s simply in human nature to want to air our grievances.

The bottom line is that you can’t rely on your customer service chops alone if you want a great online reputation. Whether it’s responding to reviews, making sure your information is up to date on review sites or managing your website’s search engine optimization, there are lots of things you can do to make sure you have the kind of online reputation you want.

Myth #8. You can quickly boost your online reputation by posting fake reviews.

If you’re just starting out or you haven’t worked up the courage to ask your customers for reviews, you may be operating under the misconception that you can simply write your own to at least make it look like you have a decent reputation. However, posting fake reviews can do a lot more harm than good, and not only is it a deceitful practice, but believe it or not, it’s also illegal.

In order to help you understand the potential consequences, here’s a quick story:

A few years ago, an undercover operation found that 19 businesses were posting fake reviews on Yelp and Google. These businesses had to pay a $350,000, and if any one of them was caught posting fake reviews again, they’d be permanently banned from registering their business on the site or posting any reviews on it.

As you can see, you risk more than just losing your customers’ trust when you post a bad review; you risk your business’ entire reputation!

Myth #9. People don’t trust online reviews.

It used to be that when you were looking for a plumber or an electrician to hire, your first course of action was probably to ask your friends and neighbors who they’ve worked with. It’s no secret that word of mouth is a very powerful thing, and people are willing to trust the advice of their friends and neighbors more often than not. However, what many people don’t realize is that so many consumers trust online reviews just as much as they trust a personal recommendation — 84 percent of consumers in fact.

If you’ve got a bad review or two, it’s easy to write it off and believe that no one will pay attention to it or put any stock in it, but that simply isn’t true. When someone is looking for a business to work with online, the only way for them to gain any insight into who they are and what kind of service they provide is by reading the reviews, and more and more, people are putting their trust into those reviews.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that your reviews don’t matter or that people don’t believe what is said in them.

Myth #10. The star rating matters more than anything else.

A good average star rating on top review sites can go a long way toward helping you maintain the kind of online reputation you want, but you should know that the star rating only gives you part of the picture. If you’re only looking at the star rating, you’ll miss a lot of valuable feedback that you can use to make your company better and more successful. The star rating can be deceiving.

Consider this:

There was recently a company that got inundated with five-star reviews. Not one of those reviews had a single comment in them. Yes, all of those reviews helped to push the average star rating for the business up, but since they were all added at the same time and contain no information, people who spot them automatically come to the conclusion that they are fake, which can seriously undermine any business’ online reputation.

Getting the facts straight about reputation management is just the first step in the process.

Would you like to build a stronger, more powerful online reputation for your business? If so, you’ve already taken the first step simply by reading this blog series. Now that you know the truth about online reputation management, you have a leg up on your competition, but in order to truly take advantage of that leg up, you need to learn how to manage your online reputation properly, and that’s where we come in.

Top Rated Local was designed to give businesses more control over the pitfalls that can harm their online reputation, like fake reviews and competitor’s reviews, while also giving consumers a clear, unaltered view of what it’s really like to work with the business in question. And while signing your business up with Top Rated Local won’t be the only thing you should do to take ownership of your online reputation, it’s certainly a good place to start. And the best part is that it’s absolutely free to get started.

What are you waiting for? Your online reputation can be in your control, and Top Rated Local can help. Get your business listed for free today to take the first step toward building the kind of online reputation any business owner would envy!

Common Myths About Online Reputation Management

As a business owner, it behooves you to take your online reputation seriously. However, you can’t possibly take ownership over your online reputation if you don’t have the facts in front of you.

Too many business owners still believe the myths about reputation management.

These days, a business’ online reputation means everything, and managing your business’ online reputation should be at the top of your to-do list. But the problem is that you can’t possibly effectively manage your online reputation if you still believe the many common myths there are out there about online reputation management. That’s why we’ve set out to set the record straight about many of those myths.

The First Five Myths About Online Reputation Management

Myth #1. Your business’ online reputation is out of your hands.

There are a lot of things about your reputation that you don’t have control over. For example, you can’t dictate what’s in a review or determine which reviews people see. However, that’s not to say that you have no control over your business’ online reputation. In fact, you have a lot more control over it than you might think.

Managing your online reputation takes time and energy, but don’t fret; it can be done. And in fact, it’s vitally important to the success of your business that you take ownership and properly manage your online reputation.

There are so many effective ways to manage your online reputation, and you can learn about quite a few of them when you check out our previous blog series — Online Reputation Management Tips All Businesses Should Be Aware Of. However, the first step you should take is to determine where you’re at currently, and a great way to do that is to simply google your business and start reading some reviews!

Once you know where you stand, it will give you the information you need to build the kind of online reputation you’ve always wanted.

Myth #2. It’s better to have no reputation at all than a bad one.

While it’s true that a bad reputation can spell trouble for any business, that doesn’t mean that it’s preferable not to have any kind of reputation at all. Think of your online reputation like your credit score. While yes, the fact that you’ve never missed a credit card payment or had some other ding on your credit may seem like a good thing at first, not having any sort of credit history or score is even worse. Just like with your credit score, when it comes to your online reputation, having zero reviews is just as bad — if not worse — than having negative reviews.

When a potential client or customer looks for your business online, and they see that you have zero reviews, they’ll likely think that your business is brand new and untested, that your business has tried to hide negative reviews or that your business is a scam.

On the contrary, if you have a few negative reviews, it’s not the end of the world. Negative reviews can actually give you a great opportunity to fix a mistake, regain trust and show off your customer service chops.

Myth #3. Reputation management and SEO have nothing to do with one another.

A lot of business owners mistakenly believe that their business’ online reputation is strictly about reviews. However, a lot goes into that online reputation, including press releases, comments on social media and a whole host of other content on the web. What comes up in the search results for your business names plays just as big of a role in your online reputation as the reviews themselves, and that’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.

The first few search results that pop up when you search for your business name online say just as much about your business as any reviews do, and if those results aren’t exactly flattering for your business, you can use a little SEO magic to push those results down. This is done by improving the rankings of your website, listings, positive press releases and more.

First impressions matter, and you won’t any search results surrounding your business to be positive. Controlling the results that show up when someone searches for your business online is a vital part of managing your online reputation, and you can’t do that without a good SEO strategy.

Myth #4. There’s nothing good about a bad review.

It’s never fun to hear that an employee dropped the ball or that, even though you tried your hardest, a customer still wasn’t pleased with your business. Bad reviews can feel like blemishes on an otherwise perfect landscape, but as most business owners know full well, they are inevitable. At some point or another, your business will encourage a negative review. But it’s how you respond that really determines how that review will affect your online reputation.

Your first mistake when you get a bad review is to ignore it or try to hide it. In fact, a much better, much more effective strategy is to respond to every review, good or bad. Oftentimes, bad reviews are the result of a mistake or of miscommunication, and while a reviewer may seem incredibly upset online, an apology and a promise to make the situation right will often go a long way to turning a bad situation around. When you respond to a bad review, it puts the power back into your corner and allows you to make a memorable impression. You may even win back your customer in the meantime!

Learn about more of the benefits of bad reviews when you check out of the previous blog — 5 Ways That Bad Reviews Can Be a Good Thing for Your Business.

Did you know?

If your business only has five-star reviews, it could actually hurt you. People want to work with honest companies and understand that human beings make mistakes. A negative review or two shows that you are human, and a great response shows that you will go to any lengths to make a bad situation good.

Myth #5. You can hide or delete negative reviews.

Imagine this scenario: you are a busy business owner that goes out of your way to ensure that your customers always leave happy, and out of the blue, you’ve spotted a one-star review among the pack of five-star reviews your customers have given you. In situations like these, it’s easy to panic and try to get rid of the review, but even if it were possible to hide or delete negative reviews — it isn’t — you wouldn’t want to.

As we mentioned in our last point, having a few negative reviews among a lot of positive ones can make your business appear more legitimate and gives you a chance to show off your customer service skills. But there’s one more benefit of bad reviews that we didn’t discuss yet — bad reviews provide you with invaluable feedback.

Contrary to what many business owners believe, bad reviews aren’t typically written by angry ex-employees or competitors who have an agenda. Most bad reviews are customers’ honest experiences with your business, and if you want your business to be the best it can be, it behooves you to pay attention and learn from that feedback.

What if you do have illegitimate reviews?

While the vast majority of reviews on verified sites are legitimate and can’t be removed, there are occasional exceptions to the rule. If you believe that you have a fake review, you might be able to get it taken down depending on the site it was posted on. For example, Facebook will remove reviews that violate their Community Standards. Your first step toward getting a fake review taken down will be to research the policies of the site the review was posted to.

If the review site refuses to remove the fake review, one of your best courses of action will be to respond to the review, emphasizing the point that you can’t find their name in your records and inviting the reviewer to contact you to discuss the matter further.

Want to learn the truth about five more common myths about online reputation management? If so, make sure you check back later for part two of this blog series!

Take ownership of your online reputation with Top Rated Local!

Now that you know the truth about some of the most common myths about reputation management, it’s time to seize control over your online reputation once again. With Top Rated Local, you can avoid many of the most common reputation management pitfalls business owners deal with today, like fake reviews, competitor reviews and more, and your consumers will get an honest look at the kind of experience you offer. And the best part is that getting started is quick, easy and free!

Sign up today to become a Top Rated Local business and to start taking your online reputation back!