Making Reviews customer friendly for better Local Search Rank

Reviews add credibility to a business and play a critical role in ranking in Google Maps. However getting customers to actually write them is another story. For a client to actually find your business record within one of the large directories, identify the review link and often times register prior to leaving a review is a daunting process. Most small business owners throw up their hands in dismay at the prospects of actually getting reviews from their customers.

I have been testing with my clients to determine whether it changes the dynamics of the process. In my limited test of 4 reviewers, its seems to have worked well easing review creation. is a site created by Michael Jensen of SoloSEO that facilitates review creation by allowing a business owner or marketer to create a single URL like this: that directs reviewers to a simple instruction set. From there it takes the user directly into a review creation link at one of several previously entered directories for the given business.

Creating the initial business account in Leavefeedback is straightforward and the biggest amount of time is spent actually locating the direct review url’s in the directory sites that you have chosen. It can be combined with a coupon and it allows for multiple coupons, each with a different URL. Alternatively the user can be taken directly to a review with no instructions and no coupon via a slightly different URL.

I recently interviewed a client that I had given the URL to, to understand her impressions of leaving a review by this method.

Me: What directory did you end up at?

Client: What directory I ended up at?  I don’t know.  I clicked on the link you provided, and then clicked on Start Your Review & just typed my stuff.  I didn’t have to register. There was one other review already there – a guy from Topeka KS – with elder services, if I recall correctly.  I just went to the link again to see if I could figure out which directory, and got to a whole different place.

Me: Was it easy?

Client: It seemed really straightforward, and I liked the fact that I didn’t have to register to leave feedback (personally, I hate having to register for stuff unless I plan to go back).

Me: Is the incentive motivating?

Client: Is the incentive motivating?  You bet!

It was interest that the incentive of 1 month added to the year of hosting, a 6% discount, was so motivating. The other point of interest was that she had no idea which directory she ended up at (it was Yahoo). I do not know how she would have responded had she needed to register but obviously there is resistance to registering and that should be a consideration in the review directories that you would choose.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Making Reviews customer friendly for better Local Search Rank by

9 thoughts on “Making Reviews customer friendly for better Local Search Rank”

  1. This looks, interesting. I will have to check it out. Do people, question you when you are asking for feedback that includes an offer? Do you think it is okay to provide incentives to give an offer.

    I guess what I am really asking, is do you think Google gets made when you give people an incentive to review. Large companies do it all the time. Otherwise how could you get focus groups, and how many receipts from walmart and target ask you to review them online, or fill out a survey for a chance to win such and such.

  2. Hi Tim-

    I have done limited testing and with some folks I did not offer any incentive and with some I did. I picked and chose based on my perception of them… obviously the client above found the incentive very motivating although she had already written me a positive review privately.

    I absolutely do think it is ok to incent clients to provide feedback. Google has not officially offered up their position on this.

    But it differs in form and substance from paying for a link to your site. In that case you are buying a link with no other purpose than to game Google, it really serves no other useful purpose.

    In this case you are requesting feedback from YOUR clients on 3rd party site to inform others of the quality of your work and provide you with feedback. The client has a choice of participating, they can say what they want and leave you with a 1 star review if they so desire. There is no attempt to game anybody but rather an attempt by you the business owner to market your business in a positive way.

    What do others think?

  3. Mike,

    I totally agree with your thinking. But, I think it would be interesting here from Matt Cutts or someone else from Google on this topic.

    The thing is, if google is trying to create the most relevant results a review added to their directory good or bad would help the end user. The thing that gets questionable in my mind is if someone only offered incentives to 4 or 5 star reviews.

  4. WWGD? I would be curious to hear a pronouncement as well but to me a more appropriate question is, Is this behavior an ethical way to run a business?

    I am not sure as a business owner you would want to incent your least happy customer to give you a review 🙂 but nothing is stopping that customer from reviewing you if they thought you were doing a terrible job. I think most SMB’s are still uncomfortable with the review process and it will be some time before they welcome all comers.

    That being said it is not clear to me that Google or anyone else is ranking in local based on your star rating so I am not sure that they approach this in the same way that they approach paid links.


  5. Mike –
    Thank you for offering an update on your use of LeaveFeedback. I have yet to get to use this, and am glad to know you’re finding it a useful tool.

    If we weren’t worried about Google, where is there a parallel in the offline world to giving incentives to customers in order to reach a business goal?

    I’d say the concept of referring a friend is a like one. Refer a friend to Dr. Milmoss and receive a free neck massage on your next visit.

    Something for you, something for Dr. Milmoss. Nothing unethical about it.


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