When working with local customers on plans to increase their search engine presence, being listed in local results, Google Maps (Places), Yahoo Local, and Bing Local, is extremely important. Local results are typically either mixed in, or placed ahead of organic search results. And since businesses not located in the area can’t get into the local results, these listings can be a real boost to a local business.
If you ask your customers to provide reviews, it’s important that this look natural. The last thing you want to for a search engine to think that these reviews are not real. Here a couple of situations to avoid.
First, if you’ve had very few reviews over time, and all of sudden you obtain a large number of reviews within a short period of time, then you are just waiving a flag at the search engines stating that you have solicited or even faked the reviews. The number of review should be steady over a period of time.
Second, the scoring of reviews should vary, in other words don’t get all five star reviews. Variation in the number of stars is what’s important, not the written comments. A three star review with somewhat favorable comments works well.
And finally, the #1 fear and reason for resistance to local listings are bad reviews, either from legitimate clients or from competitors. Some bad reviews are natural and make your reviews look authentic. People expect some bad reviews and trust the reviews more if some unfavorable reviews exist. Just be sure to respond promptly to bad reviews; it shows that you are on top of the situation and want to satisfy your customers.