This blog post was originally written by CJ Moore. 

With Google no longer referencing reviews from Yelp and other third-party sites, the importance of reviews on Google Local pages has increased substantially. Reviews are just one of the many factors that effect search engine results page (SERP) rankings, and since reviews are not really commonplace in the self storage industry, they can set your business apart.

How can you get Google Local reviews?

Get creative . Most customers are not going to think to go leave a review unless they had an awful experience – and while any review is helpful – that’s not the reviews you’re after. Here are some ideas from SEOmoz:

  • Send a message to your email list (or Facebook fans and Twitter followers, even) and ask them to leave a review at your Google Place page.

  • If you send your renters follow-up postcards (such as dentists do, for example), incorporate a call-to-action with a link that prompts them to leave a review.

  • Display a sign by your cash register and hand each customer a flyer with their receipt asking for a review.

Use one idea or incorporate multiple. No matter how you decide to go about encouraging Google Local reviews, make sure the process is as easy as possible for your customers; provide a link to your Places page and give detailed instructions on what they need to do leave a review.

Avoid dishonesty . One idea that may seem obvious is offering tenants incentives (such as some sort of rental discount, for instance) in exchange for a review. Do not do this! Google considers this a conflict of interest, and while it may be difficult for Google to police this, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a local competitor would find out, alert Google and suddenly you’re being penalized in search rankings.

Offer advice . Provide guidance to your customers who are willing to leave reviews, so you can make the most out of their feedback. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ask them to describe their experience in detail by providing as many specifics as possible. You don’t want customers to just write, “Joe Bob Storage is awesome!”

  • Explain that testimonials should be authentic. Reviews with a few keywords are great, but keyword-stuffing will result in a flagged review.

  • Don’t suggest they leave high ratings or unwarranted praise. Simply ask reviewers to tell the truth about their experience.

In order to write a review, a customer will need a Google account. Here are directions from Google you can provide them with on how to submit a review. Also, as SEOmoz suggests, it’s a good idea to email them or give them a card with the URL to your Places review page.

The easier the process, the more reviews you will receive. When it comes to reviews, quantity and quality are both important. And while you would prefer that every review be positive, all reviews add value to your Places page.