Earlier this week we wrote about link building 101 - why you need to make it part of your internet marketing plan & how to get your feet wet in the link building game.
While discussing the post with Will, and in the context of everything happening with Google+ Local these days, I realized that all of the best practices around linkbuilding are now starting to apply directly to getting reviews on Google+ Local and other similar online local business directories. We think that the process of acquiring reviews, “review building,” is an increasingly important aspect of web marketing for home performance professionals, and in fact may be just as important as link building.
Link Building Best Practices Review
Generally speaking, a great link can be defined as one that occurs naturally (meaning nobody asked for it), coming from a related website, pointing to a relevant page on your site, and using anchor text that contains a keyword you want to rank well for. In addition, your overall number of links should grow relatively slowly over time rather than spike and fall as if being manipulated. (If Google had its way, every link on the internet would be naturally occuring; in reality, however, if you’re not making some efforts to increase the number of links to your site, you’re likely falling behind the competition.)
Review Building Best Practices
As local search strategies continue to evolve it has become clear that reviews on sites & pages like Google+ Local are becoming as important - if not more so - than links to your website. Google is investing a great deal of time & energy into making their local business product a useful and quality tool for searches. As a result, the quality of your business’ presence on those sites is increasingly important.
Recently there have been significant changes to the review ecosystem on Google+ Local. Many businesses have had reviews disappear from the Google+ Local page, from pizza places to car dealerships and even home performance contracting companies. These businesses worked hard to get those reviews and are justifiably upset, as you can see in this thread.
Through the exchange between business owners in that thread & Google representatives we can glean what Google is now considering to be the best practice for review building on their products.
“Well, think about it this way -- in our ideas, the "ideal" review is by a customer who writes a review of a place completely by his or her own accord, on mobile during the experience or at home after. This would mimic the regular flow of the business.” - Jade W, Community Manager for Google+ Local
There’s a lot of information in those two sentences, but if you read it closely, you can see how much overlap there is with the generally accepted best practices for link building - the review occurs naturally as a result of the customer’s experience in the natural flow of business. So in the same way a visitor comes to your website, enjoys your content, and links back to it from another site or platform, Google is encouraging you to slowly and naturally allow your reviews to build over time.
What can we learn from this comparison?
With the web continuing to shift towards local search and Google pouring effort into their local search product you can see why an effective and long lasting review building process needs to be part of your marketing efforts online. But you will have to tread lightly in this area as the situation continues to develop - I’m not sure even Google knows where the guidelines and best practices for review building will end up. We can, however, recommend the following:
- Make asking for reviews a priority part of your business process.
- Ask for reviews in a natural way at the end of a project .
- Make it easy for people to find out where you want reviews by telling them directly in person, in an email, and on your website.
- Try to get reviews as naturally as possible as opposed to in waves (e.g. don’t send an email newsletter out to all of your customers at once asking for reviews, as this may lead to a spike in reviews which could be flagged by Google.)
Local search is a shifting landscape right now and the Energy Circle PRO team will be sure to get you the best and most up to date information about how to get reviews in a safe and sustainable way.
Have you had any success, or disappointments, with review building for your home performance business? Let us know in the comments.