Reviews – the secret internet marketing weapon

When you’re putting together an internet marketing program for your on or offline business, there are a lot of angles to cover. However, one of the most important, but often overlooked is the art of getting reviews.

First you got a web site, then a Facebook Page, a Twitter profile, and even your own YouTube channel and a gazillion more Social networking presences you were told were important.  But, just as you thought you were completely covered, up pops another issue to take care of:  Reviews…

So why are Reviews so important?

Well, obviously having a good rep. is key.  We all know that.  It’s a well known ‘real world’ marketing adage that a happy customer will tell 3 others and an unhappy one will tell at least 10.  Today, the internet dramatically increases the numbers.  While that’s great when it comes to positive customer testimonials, it’s absolutely fatal when it comes to negative reviews.

Ah… reviews.  That’s really what you’re interested in when it comes to monitoring your online reputation. Reviews are crucial in getting you seen online.  And that’s why it’s crucial that you monitor the reviews that appear as soon as they do.

Where can you find reviews on your business?

The easiest way to find reviews is to simply set up a Google alert focusing on your company brand, products and other pertinent terms associated with your business.  These alters will notify you as soon as Google indexes anything that’s been posted online matching these terms.

You can also check popular review sites such as:

  • Yelp
  • CitySearch
  • Yahoo local
  • Inside Pages
  • Super Pages
  • Google Places

Depending on your business, there will be review sites which are pertinent to your industry.  Those listed above are the most general.  For instance, if you have a restaurant or food business, you’ll be interested in review sites such as

  • Zagat
  • OpenTable
  • UrbanSpoon
  • MenuPages

Don’t forget to check your own blogs and Facebook Pages.  You’d be surprised at how many people post reviews or comments on a business’ own page without the business ever realizing it – or only realizing months later.

Bad reviews are bad enough, but bad reviews that go unanswered are the kiss of death.  If you ever have a bad review, your best defense is to put things right in public.  In other words, reply to the review.  Be tactful.  Offer to put things right.  Above all, be sympathetic, understanding and civil.  Even if the bad review was deserved, your response will go a long way to mitigate things in the public arena.

Ignoring reviews says to those who search you out online that you simply don’t care and couldn’t be bothered to deal with issues.

Encourage your happy customers to post good reviews.  It’s crucial.  Google searches out these reviews as they consider reviews to be a high authority item – and they’ll show them in the search results.

Remember, it’s far more beneficial to have your customers post the reviews themselves as Google sees reviews posted by a single IP address as ‘spam’ and will penalize your listings accordingly.  To encourage your customers, you’ll probably need to offer some reward for this – but it’s well worth while doing so.

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