Online ratings can have a serious impact on your business. High ratings and detailed reviews that sing your praises can result in more leads knocking on your inbox. Consistently low ratings—or even a single low rating that you responded to poorly—can put a serious dent in your business.
There's no doubt that hopeful homebuyers and sellers will be checking out your online reviews. According to BrightLocal, 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and BirdEye says that 62% of home buyers choose a realtor based on online reviews.
It's crucial that you have a process established for obtaining and managing your online ratings. That's why we've compiled these 11 best practices for getting high quality reviews, avoiding common pitfalls, and responding to what your clients publish about you on the web.
11 Best Practices for Your Online Real Estate Agent Reviews
1) Set up profiles on the most important review sites for real estate agents.
Google, Yelp, Facebook, Realtor.com, and Zillow are the top review sites for realtors. If you don't already have a profile on each of these sites—or if someone else created your business profile and you need to claim ownership—check out these resources:
- How to add or claim your business on Google
- The simple steps to claiming your Yelp page
- How to enable reviews on your Facebook business page
- Zillow agent reviews and ratings FAQ
- Managing your Realtor.com profile
2) Ask at the right time.
The best time to ask your clients for an online review is 3 to 5 days before or after closing. If they don't write a review (because, let's face it, they're busy settling into their new home), send a followup email or text 1-2 weeks later. If they still don't write a review, give them a call 1 month after they've moved in "just to check in"—and to remind them how much you'd appreciate their online review.
3) Use the right script.
How you'll ask for the review—the method of communication and the content itself—depends on the client, and how you've been communicating with them throughout the transaction.
If you've been sending quick and casual texts back and forth:
Hi [client name], I hope you're settling in well! Congrats again on your beautiful new home. ❤️🏡 When you have a few minutes today, would you mind visiting my Facebook page and writing an honest review of your experience working with me? That will really help future clients decide if I'm the right agent for them. Here's the link: [insert link here]
If your client prefers a more professional style via email:
Hi [client name],
Congratulations again on your sale and your move to your beautiful new home. I hope you and your family are settling in well. If you have any questions or need recommendations for home maintenance services, please let me know.
I would greatly appreciate your honest review of your experience working with me throughout this buying and selling process. You can leave a review on my Google business page at [insert link here]. Your insight will help future buyers and sellers decide if I'm the best real estate agent for them. It will also assist me in continuing to improve my services.
Thank you for being such a great client and a supporter of my business.
Even though the email is a bit lengthier than the text message, both messages begin with some brief pleasantries before getting straight to the point. Don't let your request get lost in a long email!
4) Offer suggestions.
Do you specialize in luxury urban living? Do you have an expertise in relocations? Are you a certified Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist? If a client benefitted from your area of expertise, ask them to mention it in their review.
Or maybe you had a major rock-star moment during the transaction—finding an off-market home, let's say, and convincing them to sell it to your client. When the time comes to ask for a review, give your client a reminder: "Hey, when you write your review, feel free to mention how awesome it was when I..."
(Most people hate being asked to come up with something on the spot, so they'll welcome the writing prompt!)
5) Beware offering incentives in exchange for reviews.
It's tempting to offer a Starbucks gift card in exchange for an online review, but be careful. Many websites have strict rules about incentivizing reviews, because they want to make sure ratings are honest and occur naturally. Google explicitly states, "Don't offer or accept money in exchange for reviews." Google penalized a Louisville law firm, which was offering zoo passes in exchange for reviews, by removing almost all of its reviews.
And don't mess with Yelp, unless you want to be publicly shamed. In fact, Yelp has a rule against asking for reviews—incentive or not—so you should just let those ratings happen organically.
6) Skip the bulk email—instead, ask for reviews individually.
Another Google reviews guideline states, "Don't solicit reviews from customers in bulk." If you have a long list of past clients you'd like to reach out to, it's probably best to text or email them one at a time. (Or use it as the perfect excuse to reconnect with a phone call.)
7) Embed—don't copy/paste—reviews onto your website.
If you want your online reviews to be displayed on your website, it's important that you don't copy someone's words from a Google or Zillow review and paste them onto a page of your website. Most review sites have rules against that, and it's not great for your SEO anyways (duplicate content alert!). The best practice for displaying your reviews on your website is to embed them.
8) Personally thank your client for their review.
Whether it's a rave review or a complaint, remember to thank your client for taking the time to leave a review. Send a quick text or email, or give them a call, and let them know you appreciate their feedback.
And, if their review did happen to be negative...
9) Always reply publicly to negative reviews.
If someone writes a negative review about your real estate services, reply publicly and as quickly as possible. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and show the world that you are listening and paying attention to your clients.
If the issue with the unhappy client needs further resolution, let them know in your response that you will be reaching out privately. But make sure that initial response is published for all to see.
10) Take monthly inventory of your online ratings.
Once a month, set aside some time to analyze your online reviews. How many reviews do you have on each site? Do you have a ton of Google ratings but only a handful on Facebook? Are there a lot of reviews from your first-time homebuyers, but not quite enough from your listing clients? Did you somehow miss that one negative review on Zillow?
Use this time to identify gaps in your online ratings and make adjustments to your strategy for the next month.
11) Automate the ask.
The best way to make sure you never forget to ask a client for a review is to automate the process. If you're a Realvolve user, you can use the Get Reviews workflow found in the workflow library. This 3-week drip campaign consists of 4 emails that ask your client for a review a few days before closing, then again a few days/weeks after close. Once you've added the pre-built workflow to your Realvolve account, all you have to do is update the templates with your own links to your preferred review site.
Your online reputation can heavily influence the number of new clients you earn. To make sure your exceptional service is being praised on review sites, you need to establish a process for obtaining and managing client reviews. Choose which review sites to focus on, set up an automated workflow to help you reach out to clients at the right time, follow all the best practices for crafting your request, reply publicly to negative ratings, and remember to thank every single client who takes the time to write a review.