Responding to Online Reviews for Small Businesses: Boost Local SEO Startups

You should always respond when you receive online reviews for small businesses. No matter how positive or negative they are, they have tremendous potential to boost your online reputation. Local SEO rankings, including those displayed by Google, are determined by many factors, including reviews.

“Even negative reviews can have a positive effect if they are resolved promptly and in a positive way. Perhaps the worst thing a business can do is not respond to a review to show the customer you are listening.”

Search Engine Journal

While it’s true to say that online reviews shape businesses’ reputations. It’s perhaps the response you make to each review that sways your prospective customers the most. Suppose another customer sees you leave rude points-scoring comments; they will assume you are unapproachable if they have a problem with your business.

Ask yourself if you want your business to appear as:

  • Unprofessional and uncaring
  • Dishonest or manipulative
  • Incompetent or poorly managed
  • Unwilling to take responsibility
  • Unapproachable if something goes wrong

These criticisms can be levelled at any businesses that respond poorly to reviews.

All businesses should respond quickly and professionally to reviews. This article will explore practical ways for business owners to respond to positive and negative reviews and enhance their online reputation.

Local businesses heavily rely on local support and word-of-mouth referrals. Online reviews have become an extension of this tradition. Whether reviews are positive or negative, they provide opportunities to engage with customers and showcase commitment to their satisfaction.

Responding to Positive Reviews

Say Thank You

Always express gratitude to reviewers for their feedback, regardless of its tone. Thanking them demonstrates appreciation for their time and input. In many ways, they are helping you by pointing out a concern others may have experienced but not expressed.

Respond Promptly

Swift responses indicate a dedication to customer service, showing that you care. Aim to reply to positive reviews promptly, acknowledging the reviewer’s support.

Stay Professional and Courteous

Be professional in your response, even when receiving praise. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Imagine how you would feel. Ensure your reply aligns with your business’s values and how you would like to be perceived.

Understand the Reviewer’s Experience

Empathise with the reviewer’s perspective. Acknowledge specific positive aspects of their experience to demonstrate attentiveness.

Offer to Talk It Over

Invite open communication with customers to address any concerns they may have. Demonstrating a genuine interest in resolving issues fosters positive interactions.

Show Authenticity and Genuine Care

Adding a personal touch to your response by signing your name or initials humanises your business. It shows that you care about your customers’ experiences.

Handling Negative Reviews

As with positive reviews responding promptly is important to demonstrate your commitment to resolving issues as quickly as possible. This shows your customers that you value their feedback and are willing to address concerns.

Start With an Apology and Be Specific in Your Apology

Start with an apology acknowledging the customer’s concerns and frustration. Say sorry for any miscommunication or inconvenience caused.

Be Genuine in Your Response

Don’t rely on generic apologies; genuinely understand the customer’s concerns. Authenticity is crucial when addressing negative reviews. Avoid using canned responses and respond in a personalised manner.

Avoid Engaging in Arguments

If a reviewer becomes confrontational, remain polite and respectful. Avoid engaging in arguments or confrontations.

Stay Calm and Professional

Maintain a calm and professional demeanour when addressing criticism. Avoid responding impulsively, as it may escalate the situation.

Acknowledge the Reviewer’s Complaint

Even if you disagree with a negative review, acknowledge the customer’s feelings and show understanding of their dissatisfaction.

Explain What Happened

Offer a concise explanation of any incidents that might have led to the negative experience. Transparent communication can diffuse tension.

Offer a Solution

Propose a resolution to the reviewer’s concerns, if possible. This could involve a refund, replacement, or future discount to make amends.

Thank the Reviewer for Their Feedback

Express gratitude for the reviewer’s input, even if the review is critical. Demonstrating a willingness to learn from feedback can build trust.

Examples of Effective Responses to Negative Reviews

"Thank you for your review. We apologise for your negative experience. We've investigated and have taken steps to prevent recurrence. As a gesture of goodwill, we would like to offer you [insert offer]."
"We're sorry you were disappointed with our service. Customer feedback is vital, and we always seek to improve our services. Please contact us at [insert method] to discuss your experience in person."
"We appreciate your feedback. We regret any dissatisfaction with your purchase. Your comments will be shared with our [insert name] team. For refund inquiries, contact us at [insert method]"

Conclusion! Respond to All Online Reviews for Small Businesses

Responding to local reviews is crucial for businesses’ online reputation. Following the tips in this article builds trust, attracts customers, and fosters success.

Justin March - Owner Stroud Valley SEO
Owner Stroud Valley SEO
Justin March is a highly skilled freelance SEO and web designer with human-computer and user interface design expertise. He has achieved position 1 rankings in Google for tricky key phrases like "Survey Software" and "Water Coolers". Justin has worked as a marketing director and shareholder at Quench Water Systems Ltd. and WaterCoolers Direct.com Ltd. Justin now designs, markets and maintains websites for numerous Startups and SMEs in the Stroud and Bristol areas.