Tag Archives: understand SEO

How to Generate Online Reviews


Reviews have realistically silenced word-of-mouth, and reviews that we host on our websites are “invisible” to search engines. (Actually, they can see them, they just refuse to; on-site reviews are too easy to fake.)

But we need them. A one-star increase in Yelp ratings can generate a revenue increase between 5 percent and 9 percent, according to a Harvard Business School Study. Another study showed that an extra half-star rating on Yelp can increase business at peak times by up to 19 percent. A 19 percent increase for about an hour each week sounds like fantastic ROI to me!

So how do we get reviews? It’s a simple process, and requires three things:

  1. Review generator platform on our websites. There are a number of them out there. Your web person should be able to do this simply and quickly.
  2. Creating the process. That’s the Six Steps we’ll cover below.
  3. Adding a task to our schedules. This might be the most difficult!

If we’re serious about doing it, and cite No. 3 as to why we’re not, outsourcing is the way to go. This is to be done regularly – or it won’t “work.” It is a habit to adopt. If we can’t commit the time, we need to either not do it at all or pay someone to do it.

The first and third are single-step processes. It’s the middle one that requires multiple steps – six as I promised in the headline. Approximate time commitments are included in each step, and the first two steps are one-time tasks.

  1. Create a generic email requesting a review. Time commitment: Depends on your writing skills; it shouldn’t be more than 30 minutes.
  2. Set up alerts (if not using a review generating tool) to receive notices when reviews are posted. Time commitment: 20-30 minutes.
  3. Identify customers within the last designated time period (see below for frequency) whom you are certain are happy with your service of product. It’s important that they be recent customers so their memory of your awesome products and services is fresh. Time commitment: 20-45 minutes.
  4. Send the generic review-request email (from Step 1) to yourself or a generic company email and bcc the customers you identified in Step 3. Time commitment: 20-45 minutes.
  5. Respond to reviews. This is mandatory, and must be done within 24 hours! Do this on the review site, in public. They’ve gone out of their way to review you – make sure it’s acknowledged. Time commitment: Three minutes per review.
  6. Watch your reputation grow!

How often should we request reviews? Frequency depends on the business, specifically, how many customers served in a defined time period.  I suggest after we’ve served 20-30 customers, whatever that time frame is. For example, a business that serves 20-30 customers each month will probably perform this process once per month. A business that serves 20-30 customers each week will likely perform this process weekly. I wouldn’t do it less often than once per month since we need to be fresh in their minds. Frequency will also determine timing of results.

Having review requests on the back of our business cards will also help generate reviews, although we’re not always certain that a happy customer will receive it.

Juliette Cowall has been learning and practicing SEO since 2009. The review generation platform she uses gives business owners the ability to respond to reviews before they go live and to publish directly to Google reviews.

Please Don’t Ask IT to do SEO

Square peg and a round hole. Metaphor for a misfit or nonconformist.

Square peg and a round hole. Analogy for a misfit.

When I educate people about the importance of their online presence and how many pieces (too many to count) it touches, they recognize the importance of it. Then, and I can almost see the wheels turning, some of them will think, “I’ll have my IT (Information Technology) people do it.”

Please don’t. Continue reading

Juliette’s SEO Analogy

Juliette's SEO IllustrationSome people actually know what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is. A lot of people sort of have an idea of what it is. It has something to do with the Internet and websites and Google, right? But what is it? Where does it fit? What does it do?

First, think of a power storage unit – say, a power plant. Second, think of a bunch of wires and cables connecting the power source to, third, a grid of light bulbs.

The power plant represents a search engine, like Google. The wires and cables are SEO – and there are hundreds of them, maybe thousands. Each light bulb represents a website. The brightness of the light bulb depends on the strength of its wires and cables, not the power plant.

It doesn’t matter if the bulb is a pretty color or has the latest technology. If the wires are loose, frayed, or broken, it will be outshone by other bulbs. Bad pun alert! Who wants to be a dim bulb?

If you think this is the best analogy for SEO that you’ve ever heard, please share!