As the holiday season approaches, more and more customers will begin relying on reviews found on Google and Yelp to assist in their shopping decisions. Most users expect the reviews left on these sites to be neutral and trustworthy, written by fellow consumers who were happy or unhappy with their experiences. However, this is not always the case. Third-party reviewers may be incentivized to write overly in favor or against particular businesses with free products, services or steep discounts. This can force the consumer to change their perspective of the business, and alter the reputation of the review site in question.
While most review sites are doing what they can to fight off fake reviews (Yelp and Google each have policies against the practice), it’s important to remain vigilant against spam reviews. Using approved methods of gaining reviews will allow you to encourage and collect positive reviews. Follow-up emails to previous customers with review requests are permitted, with links that show where the review will be posted. If you run a storefront business, you may post signs with locations where reviews would be appreciated. It is vital that you do not incentivize your customers for these reviews. If you have a decent amount of real, positive reviews, emphasize them, especially if they are by accredited sites and writers. There may be specific sites dedicated to your specific type of business or industry. If a writer reviews your specific product, it could mean more to a consumer than an anonymous review. Report any reviews that seem to be fake and could hurt your brand, and develop a strategy to respond to every review, whether positive or negative. Negative reviews can be used to open up a constructive conversation among your consumer base, as long as you make the first move. It will be seen as responsible and good customer service to respond to and resolve each complaint.
Google has recently rolled out new updates for Google My