A Deeper Dive Into Location Factors For Online Review Management and Marketing

Timothy Sweeney offers questions to consider about location factors and their impact an online review management and marketing for small business clients.Read More...
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In a follow up to last week’s post, Timothy Sweeney offers a unique look at the questions that Local Search practitioners need to ask themselves when considering location factors and their impact an online review management and marketing for their Small Business clients.

The other week Garrett asked me if I would provide feedback on a series of questions concerning comparing city versus suburban versus rural based businesses when it came to the topic of reviews.

My general thoughts on this topic were that it is difficult to make generalities as I know of some rural businesses that have their act together concerning local search (and reviews) and some urban businesses that don’t have a clue. Even so, thinking about the question raised the following thoughts. It should be noted that while writing these thoughts I reflected on my observations as a consumer, a Google Local Guide and as a local search practitioner. 

So in consideration of, comparing city versus suburban versus rural based businesses when it came to the topic of reviews, here are my thoughts.

Additional Factors To Consider

  • What are the demographics of the area in question? – For example, is the population younger who are digital natives or older and don’t live through their devices. Would a smaller city that has a major university at its center be more digitally inclined and henceforth a source of reviews than a larger city with an older population? (Source of reviews)
  • Are there connection – infrastructure issues? – Those in urban areas might take 4G constant connected service for granted, but once you start venturing outward into more rural and even some suburban areas it’s not fun trying to work on 1 bar to no bars of service. (Ease of reviews)
  • What’s the density of each business vertical? – If there are more of the same types of business in the locality competing with one another, this appears (in general) to stimulate the desire for reviews. (Competitive push for reviews)

Where is the locally focused business and/or other entity such as a not for profit in their local search journey?

For example are they:

  • Simply unaware of their online presence? – “We have a Google what listing?”, “Reviews, what reviews?” – They don’t even know whether their business has a listing and/or that they have reviews.
  • Struggling with their online presence? – “How the hell do I fix those hours on that Google thing, it’s killing my business!”, “We have three Facebook pages somewhere, I don’t know where they came from, what do I need Google for?”, “Where do these reviews come from?”
  • Satisfied with their current status quo? – “We have a Facebook page and business is good. People seem to find us ok so why should I mess with this Google thing you’re talking about or spend money to get these reviews?”, “Hey, we’ve been in business since 1930 and our place is packed night after night. I think we are ok with our online presence.”
  • Desiring to dominate their competitors? – “We want to drive them, (their competitors), out of business or at least take as much business away from them as possible. Based on what you told us having a review strategy and management program in place sounds like a good idea.”
  • Already have a review strategy and management program in place? – I don’t encounter this very often, but some businesses already have the review strategy and management program in place.

In my mind, I keep picturing the local search journey for one of these entities as a journey of discovery. Some of the entities are stuck at the starting gate, others are starting to become aware, while another group travels along until they reach what might be called a baseline of best practices in local search which would include to some limited degree a review strategy and management program. Once this baseline is reached, a smaller group wants to deploy a higher level of local search strategies as long as there is positive ROI. This could include the pursuit, within proper guidelines, of more reviews.

Is the Business Ready For a Review Strategy and Management Program?

Or put another way, at what point would you advise the business to pursue reviews? I go back to the standard baseline of best practices for local search. Stating the obvious, clean up your citations, aggregators, map touch points, is their website decent, work on getting quality links, etc… I would be interested to hear from those at the top of the local search knowledge hierarchy on this question. 

What Type of Industry Vertical Are We Talking About?

If we take the best practices concerning review strategy and management, would this template be appropriate for all locally focused entities? For example, how would you rank these entities concerning the value of having a review strategy and management program in place?

  • Pizzeria
  • Funeral Home
  • Chiropractor
  • General Auto Repair Shop
  • Pawnshop
  • Local Social Services Office
  • Cardiac Rehab Center
  • A City Park
  • Outdoor Store
  • Massage Parlor
  • Local DMV Office

We haven’t even touched on whether we are talking about a single location entity or one with multiple or more locations.

How Many Reviews and How Often Does the Business Need Reviews?

We already know that for GMB having at least five reviews is very important. And this assumes we are talking about positive reviews and not negative or less than positive reviews. Moving beyond Google, what is the golden number for reviews and the rate at which they are received? This raises the question of, once the entity becomes aware of the value of reviews, will they attempt to pack reviews with those from employees, relatives, their best friend friend, etc?

Does the Business (Entity) Fear Reviews?

Some locally focused entities are going to fear reviews for one reason or another.

For example:

  • Perhaps they are used to a command and control approach to business/service – While I would call this antiqued thinking, I do encounter it. Giving additional power to the consumer, by encouraging reviews, is difficult to do for some. 
  • Simply don’t understand consumer behavior – “The only reviews we’ll receive are by those who aren’t satisfied.”
  • Have a poor business/service model to begin with – If a business is dysfunctional most likely management and/or the owner will know this. In these cases, encouraging reviews will simply amplify the obvious problems.

If you’re a local search practitioner or thought leader, I am certain you could add several more paragraphs of thought on the topic of reviews. As you might imagine, there are many entities out there that would benefit from using a sound review strategy and management program. Getting them to the point at which they are ready for it and willing to accept it is part of a longer process.

About the Author

Timothy Sweeney


Founder of Peak Ecommerce, working in online marketing and local search since 1998. When not in front of a digital device working you'll find me out hiking with my wife.