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This is a guest blog post by Clayton Coombs. Clayton works for a law firm in Salt Lake City called The Advocates. They do great work. 

How online reviews can boost your SEO. Simply put, a review is an opinion left by a client or customer that has been directly involved with your business. It is a way for your customers to maintain a conversation related to your brand or business. They leave these remarks on any platform or website that accepts that type of content. Google, Yelp and Facebook are the top three leading review platforms. As a business owner, it is very important to realize that 90% of customers are influenced by your brand’s reviews.

With this post, we will outline three components that marketers and business owners need to know in order to make reviews work for you and not against you.

So, let’s get to it!

Company Policy and Employee Training

Company policies and training of employees come from the business owner. When hiring employees, it is imperative that you as a business owner feel that the hire-e is someone that will represent your brand proudly and honorably. Make sure that your employees receive adequate training and leadership. A survey found that 57% of complaints were related to poor customer service and behavior of employees. If you are able to have your staff sufficiently trained, especially when it comes to complaints and how to respond to them, you can drastically cut down on any potential negative reviews.

Knowledge and Ethical Conduct Relating to Reviews

Business owners and marketers need to have knowledge of the different guidelines that each platform has regarding reviews. For example, Google has no problem with companies asking their customers for reviews as long as no money or gifts are exchanged. Yelp does not allow companies to ask customers for reviews, so knowing what you can do regarding reviews is a huge bonus at avoiding a worst-case scenario of profile takedown.

Knowing the platform’s guidelines is very important, just as important is willfully breaking these guidelines. Never pay or provide gifts to customers for a positive review, never have a marketer make up a review. As a business owner, it is in your best interest to nurture every positive review that you can get, because of the everlasting effect it will have on your business.

The Inevitable Negative Review

At some point every business has or will experience a negative review, it is how you respond to that negative review that will be the most effective. When the time comes that you receive that negative review, it is imperative that you calmly address the review with your staff. After obtaining the facts of the review it is time to address the customer that left the review. Having the business owner personally address the customer will go a long way, use this time to let the customer know how much you value them and take strides to win this particular customer back. Simply addressing the complaint will send astounding signals to potential customers that may read your reviews while investigating whether to go with your business or a competitor.

To sum up, online reviews are a key local search ranking factor that should be closely monitored to fully maximize their role in your business SEO strategy. Never be afraid of a negative review as long as you take the necessary steps to rectify it and make it work for you. At The Advocates we understand reviews and strive to have fully satisfied customers that we have contact with, we know the value a happy customer can bring to a company.