HOW: Send happy clients a link to your Google Review and Houzz page, copy the testimonial to your website with a nice client photo.
WHEN: Right after you finish the project and your client is over the moon about your work.
WHY: Social proof. According to Search Engine Land, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from real people.
I’ll start with WHY to get a 5 star review:
As you well know, we live in a time where the world is more connected than it has ever been. If you’re doing good work, people want people to know about it. If you’re doing bad work, people want people to know about it and there is no easier time and place to do it then on the web.
It’s called social credibility; 83% of buyers claim that they no longer trust advertising, but most trust recommendations from users online (according to Formstack). Google is always trying to find the best way to evaluate whether a website or business has the best, most relevant content. To that end they have started including Facebook, Houzz and other online ratings systems with your google listing.
Google your business to see how your clients see your listing, not the url, just the name. Your business website will show up first and below that your social pages: Facebook, Houzz, etc. along with the number of reviews posted and (hopefully) five shiny orange stars, as shown below. Your google reviews are shown on the right side.
When I talk about testimonials some people are afraid that giving people the opportunity to review allows the risk of receiving bad reviews. This is exactly why it works. It’s real, people have the opportunity to say whatever they want and you have no power to change it. This keeps everyone honest. The only way to get rid of a bad review on social media is to bury it with good reviews, but you can also respond to a bad review. You can always tell how well a business communicates by how they respond to a bad review. Some businesses get angry and this tells you how they might respond in situations, the good businesses are cool and collected.
If you only post reviews on your website they are not as trustworthy, there is no way for your clients to verify if those are real people or real reviews. You still want reviews on your website, but getting them on your social sites first gives your website more credibility for google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and provides social proof for clients who don’t know you.
WHEN and HOW to get your 5 star review
First, Peer Testimonials
If you haven’t already, the first step to google reviews is to send a request to everyone you work with, subcontractors, architects, designers, contractors, suppliers, anyone who you know will happily give you a five star review. The number of reviews you have on google counts, while peer reviews are valid and appropriate, they are not as important as your client reviews. Asking for these first will likely put them at the bottom, they are ranked by relevance, which sometimes mixes up the dates.
You can use this text as a starting point:
I am working to improve my online marketing and learned that google reviews affect google ranking.Would you be willing to write a little something about our work together?
Some questions to get you started:
1. Can you describe the overall quality of [your company’s] projects?
2. What was your experience working with me?
3. Would you recommend me to clients and why?
Here is the link to add a review. (Once you open the new window, click on “write a review”)
I would be happy to do the same for you, apparently these google reviews make a big difference. Maybe you already know how to find the review area for yourself, but if you don’t here are some tips:
The easiest way to get the link to your reviews is to enter your business name in google maps. Then select your business, on the right hand side you’ll see a review option. Click on that, copy the full url and attach it to a word like I’ve done above. The actual urls are ridiculously long.
Thank you for your time. We appreciate the work you do.
[Your Name & Business]
After you’ve received those reviews on google, respond with a thank you comment through google so that it shows up beneath the review. If appropriate, copy those reviews and send them a request from Houzz with their review in the message so all they have to do is copy and paste.
Your client’s testimonial is more important on Houzz than on Google. If they will do both great, use the same technique as above. If not, send them a request from Houzz. Obviously you should request testimonials when you know your clients’ are happy (sometimes this takes a while for people to move into the home and settle in for a while).
An email to your client might look something like this:
Hi Mr. & Mrs Smith,
So pleased you love the finished project, it was such a pleasure to work with you.
I’d love to have your review posted on my Google business page. Here are some quick questions to get you started and help me continue to improve my business.
How has [the project] improved you and your family’s life?
Describe the benefits of working with me?
Would you recommend me to your friends and why?
(If google) Here is the link to post the review:
(If Houzz) You’ll receive a review request directly from Houzz after this email.
Thanks you so much for the privilege of working with you.
[Your Name & Business]
The benefits of giving your clients a questionnaire is that it helps them get to it right away. Without a little help an email like this could get tucked away to do later, because if they are good clients, they want to do a good job, and that has the implication of taking time. By giving them good questions you let them off the hook. They can answer the questions quickly and post it. The questions are also slightly leading to elicit the most valuable information for prospective clients, and the question about recommending to a friend puts a seed in their mind about doing exactly.
If you have people who want to rave up and down about you and/or are tech savvy have them post it to Facebook, Houzz and Google, whatever they are willing to do. For Search Engine Optimization it’s a good idea to spread your reviews around, but if you want to concentrate on just a couple, I suggest Google and Houzz.
Google controls the algorithm that determines how your business ranks with others in your category and they like their review system best. The other advantage is that most businesses haven’t built google reviews into their process so you can benefit by having reviews up before your competitors. To learn how to get a link for google reviews click here.
For Houzz, the review request must be sent from your Houzz profile to their email to verify it is a real review. Houzz recommends that you have at least 3 reviews to complete your profile. Their statistics reveal that the more reviews you have, the better your profile will perform. If you don’t have a Houzz profile check out this excellent article by Architect Mark R. LePage. Mark also published a book about how to best optimize your Houzz Profile. As a designer or builder Houzz is a great place to display your work. Even if you don’t have a website, Houzz is a great place to start. If you’re not sure how to get reviews posted to your Houzz account you can start here.
On your Facebook Business Page there is a review section (if you don’t see it, google for the location as it’s always moving), you can click on this and it will open a new page of reviews (or a place for reviews if you don’t have any yet). Copy this url and send it in the email. If your client does use Facebook they will likely already be logged in and when they post a review it will be connected to their profile. If you don’t have a business Facebook account here is a How-To.
When you have the reviews posted on your social sites you can copy and paste them to your website. The benefit of Facebook is that you can easily find a photograph of your client if you don’t have one. Using a photograph of the people who gave the reviews is always a good idea. It’s easy to gloss over a testimonial if it’s just text, but if it has an image of real person, they are more likely to read it, more likely to trust it.
Is it really that important?
From a purely online perspective, Google trusts your clients more than it trusts you.
From a marketing perspective, your clients will often use language and descriptions that you can use in your messaging that you may not have thought of. Most importantly though, you want high quality clients, and high quality clients do their research.