Customer Review formNot only are there dozens of websites out there that allow customers to post local business reviews, there are an equal number of “experts” telling you how important reviews are and how you should solicit them.

In order to avoid being publicly “outed” by sites like Yelp or penalized by search engines like Google, you definitely DON’T want to buy reviews. And you don’t want to suggest to your customers what they should say about you in a review. But you DO want to solicit reviews.

Here are 5 tips for collecting reviews that will help your reputation online and not get you in trouble:

  1. LINK. Decide where you want reviews about you to show up, and whenever you encourage customers to write a review, give them the link to that page. It could be a page on your own website or your business profile page on, or your Google + Local page, but if you give people a link to click on, that’s where they’ll write their review.
  2. ASK. The number one reason businesses don’t get reviews is because they don’t ask for them. In the simplest language possible, thank your customers for their business and say something like “We hope we provided the best service possible. Feel free to tell us about your experience here. [link]
  3. BROADCAST. Ask for reviews everywhere you can: in person, on your website, in email, on your mobile website, text them a link, ask on your Facebook page, Twitter, on a comment card you leave with a customer, on any printed marketing material you give to a customer… everywhere.
  4. RESPOND. Monitor your reviews and be sure to thank every person for their review, even the bad ones. And quickly contact that customer offline to resolve any issues.
  5. ENABLE. Consider having a computer or tablet at your place of business that displays your Reviews page, and allows your customers to write a review while they’re right there. Make sure there’s enough privacy so the customer won’t feel like you or other customers are looking over their shoulder. NOTE 2-20-13: See the comments below for the latest info from Google. This once-innocuous method of enabling your customers to write reviews is now problematic!
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