There are a number of factors that go into having a successful digital presence for your contracting business. Is your website responsive? Are your landing pages optimized? Do you have social media accounts? Perhaps most importantly, what do your online reviews look like?
It’s no secret that this type of “word of mouth” advertising is still very important. This is perhaps even truer, now that people can find information about your business within seconds with a simple click of a mouse. Google My Business heavily impacts the relationship between online reviews and your SEO efforts—what does this mean for you?
Google My Business Is More than Just a Business Listing
Google My Business helps contractors reach and engage with local customers through Google Search and Google Maps. Because Google owns the platform, they’re going to put the most weight on reviews that come through it.
Google’s Official Stance
Last year, Google published a revised version of their 164-page set of Search Rating Guidelines, which helps human “quality raters” evaluate online content. This includes website, landing page, and overall online business content. The raters then provide feedback to Google in order to enhance their search algorithm.
There are specific factors they look for, and rate on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest), based on what online visitors like to see and want to see. The overall ratings determine the E-A-T of any given search result that comes up.
What Is E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The search ratings measure this as well as the web pages’ reputation. Usually, if one is high the other is high. This is the good and the bad news. Your business’s E-A-T score and reputation may be high and allow your reviews to show up on page one of Google. But, if you have bad reviews then it can work against you.
If this happens, you want to put focus on improving the review score on that particular platform, whether it is Google My Business, Facebook, BBB, Yelp, or Home Advisor. We encourage contractors to invest the resources necessary to respond to and monitor your company reviews. This may mean providing internal training to your staff, and even adopting a review generation platform of your own.
“Should I Respond to Bad Reviews?”
This is a common question, and the short answer is “yes.” But only if you do so in the right way. It is possible, if you respond to an unhappy customer who left a bad review in an amicable way, that they may update or remove their review. You also have the option to ask the customer to do so after a problem has been resolved.
After all, a bad review may have come as a result of a misunderstanding, or it’s something you can or already were able to correct. The best case scenario is that a customer will edit their bad review after coming to a satisfactory resolution. However, you want to be careful to not be too aggressive about it.
Another option is, instead of asking the customer to remove or edit their review, is to work on crafting the perfect response to negative reviews. For instance, you can respond to an initial review by acknowledging the customer had a problem, and encouraging them to contact you privately. Once the situation is resolved, you can go back to the review and leave a response such as:
“Hi [name], per our offline discussion, we were able to remedy this situation. We look forward to doing business with you in the future.”
What this does for you is it shows potential customers and 3rd parties that even though a customer had a bad experience, you as the company owner addressed their concerns, and you care about the service you provide.
Reviews Have a Direct Impact on SEO and Site Visibility
The reviews you receive on the various review platforms have a direct impact on your SEO results, site visibility, and, as a result, your leads and customer conversions. This trend is very likely to continue, particularly when you consider the amount of work and resources Google has put into this facet of their local search engine guidelines over the past few years. The longer you wait to invest the resources needed in managing your business reviews and reputation, the more likely it is you’ll fall behind some of your local competitors.