On this video Josh Nelson of HVAC SEO explains a proven process for systematically getting real online reviews from your real customers in your true service area (Critical for Google Map Placement).
The other critical component for getting listed on the map is having reviews. You'll notice that the guys that rank well tend to have a lot of true reviews from real customers in their real service area. We've found it to be a critical component for getting ranked high on the map in the area that you operate in.
Let's talk about how you can get reviews and some very specific review acquisition strategies -- things that you can do to get reviews. The easiest way to get reviews is to ask them. It might seem, "Oh, how am I going to get people to write a review for me?"
Start by creating a simple review request card, which is just as simple as creating a postcard, or a business card that says, "Hey, thanks so much for your business. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you. Please write us a review online." Giving them an easy place where they can go to write you a review. One option is to send them to Google Places, Yahoo Local, and to Citysearch.
Another option, which we've found to work really well, is to create a page on your website. That would be yourwebsite.com/reviews, or /writeusareview, and on that page, having direct links, via the buttons, so they can click on Google Places and go there, and write you a review. They can click on Yahoo Local, and go there and write you a review. The easier you can make that process for your customer, the better.
Print out some simple postcards. It does not have to be super fancy. Just, "Hey, we really appreciate your business. Write us a review." A very strategic approach to this, though, would be to phase one, develop a list of your circle of influence. Your best customers, your recent customers, your friends and family, people that know who you are know I can trust you, that you'd think would want to help you out.
Of course, you want to make sure that they will have done business with you in the past at some level. Get their names and email address, and do an email. Just a simple email blast out to that group of people, saying, "Hey, you know what, we're in the process of trying to do more online, and get better placed. Part of that is getting reviews from people in this area. Being that you've done business with us before, and are somebody that we trust, we'd love to have you write us a review."
Give them either a link to the specific review profile or to that reviews page that you're going to set up. That's a great way to solicit reviews and get a nice little base of reviews from your real circle of influence and real people in your service area.
From there you want to get a process in place, where you're systematically requesting reviews from your real customers in your real geographic area. The best way to do that, other than handing them the review card, is to start to ask for the email addresses of your customers. Start collecting email addresses. There's a lot of things you can do to email with updates, special offers, get them involved with social media.
If nothing else, right after service, send them a quick, "Thank you. Appreciate your business. We'd appreciate if you could write us a review." Again, a direct link to where they can write you a review. We find that in doing this, and implementing this, in a lot of HVAC companies throughout the United States, one challenge is how do we get the customer to give us the email address?
If you're waiting for your technician to get to the home of the customer and then provide the service, and then say, "Hey, by the way, can I get your email address? I'd like to send you a request for a review." They tend to shy away from that. They don't want to give it, because they don't see any value in it for them, and they're concerned that they're going to get spammed with emails from your company.
A better approach we've found is at the point of booking the call. Say, "Hey, by the way, you're scheduled for Tuesday at 2:00, or we'll be there this afternoon at 3:00, let me get your email address, so I can send you a confirmation." If you change the process to asking for that information on the front end, we find that you get a much higher percentage of your customers that are willing to give you the email.
Of course, you want to send them a confirmation, but it gives you the ability after the service call to push out a request for a review via email. If you can do that on a consistent basis, you're going to get real reviews from your true customers in your true service area.
Now, there is a tool that can help you with this review request, and helping Google understand your true service area process. The way it works is as you and your technicians go out into the field, they would have a mobile tool that they can install on their iPhone.
The name of this tool is Nearby Now, and, basically, it would be an application they can install on their iPhone, and when they get to the place of business, they would load Nearby Now. They would check in. Press a button that would initiate a check in process. That would then capture the GPS data that's on the phone and say, "OK. Pete's Plumbing and Heating just had a service call in Tampa, FL." It would plot on the map, "OK. This was in Tampa, FL."
Throughout the day, they're checking in, they're checking in. You start to develop a heat map, like the image that you'll notice at the bottom of the screen. That heat map can then be syndicated from Nearby Now to your website, to your social media profiles, and then most importantly to Google Places.
When Google Places is now seeing true check in data, based on GPS check ins, all throughout your service area, outside of maybe just Tampa, but in the sub-cities as well. Now it says, "OK. That's they're true service area." It improves the probability of showing up on the map in the true areas that you service.
The next thing it can do is help to automate the review request process. We talked about the fact that having real reviews from your real customers is critical. The next step with Nearby Now would be you've checked in, you've left the place of business, and you press the button, "Request a Review."
An email, or text message, could go to the customer saying, "Hey thanks for your business, please write us a review." Give them the option to write the review on those various online profiles. Then you've really got an automated, systemized way for getting the reviews from your real customers. We've found it's worked really well for our clients. That tool, if you want to check it out, is at nearbynow.co, not com, but .co, so it's nearbynow.co/contractorseo. Great tool. Help you push your true service area to Google and automated the review request process.