Client reviews play an important role in promoting your workforce investment board's career center online and improving your search ranking. Review signals contribute 8.4 percent to how Google ranks your site, according to a Moz analysis of local search engine ranking factors.1 Reviews also influence whether prospective clients will attend your events and make use of your services - 85 percent of consumers now read online reviews when considering local businesses, and 79 percent trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal research.2 Even negative reviews are important, because they provide you with feedback you can use to improve your center. Here are five ways workforce centers can encourage their current clients to provide honest online reviews to boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

1. Enable Anonymous Reviews

Anonymity makes it easier for clients to speak their minds without fear of repercussion, and it  allows you to collect genuine feedback. To facilitate this:

  • Have your webmaster include a comments collection box on your site
  • Don't require reviewers to enter an email in order to leave a review
  • Provide links to your anonymous review page in emails to your client mailing list and in your social media profiles and posts

2. Set up Multiple Review Outlets

Set up profiles on multiple review sites, so clients have multiple outlets to provide feedback. Popular sites where you can solicit reviews include Google Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Angie's List, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, Citysearch, TrustLine and Trustpilot. To drive traffic to your review sites, promote them in your email and social media communications with clients. You can also invite your promotional partners who participate in your events to request reviews from participants by providing a link to your review profiles. For instance, if you partner with a college to promote a job fair, you can ask the college to invite student participants to submit reviews of your event.

3. Provide Short Questionnaires

Include a questionnaire at the bottom of digital files and documents your workforcecareer center produces and distributes. For example, if you offer PDF files as resources on your website, you can include a questionnaire on the last page with a link to a page on your site or on a survey site app where readers can submit their answers. You can also include questionnaires in blog posts and social media posts.

4. Integrate Reviews Into Your Onboarding and Management Processes

To collect a steady stream of reviews from your clients, integrate review collection into your case managers' procedures for onboarding and interacting with clients. Establish a policy that makes it routine to steer new clients to a short online questionnaire at the conclusion of the onboarding process. You can also establish a policy that requires case managers to request reviews at periodic intervals, such as every six months, or after clients achieve certain benchmarks, such as getting placed at a job after receiving support from your center. Make sure your case managers understand the importance of requesting reviews and the reasons for following your standard review collection procedure.

5. Put Reviews to Proactive Use

To make your reviews practical, the information you collect must be actionable. One way to achieve this is by asking for measurable input about your client service performance. For example:

  • Ask clients to rate events and programs on a scale of 1 to 5 with respect to specific categories, such as clarity of presentation, usefulness of information presented, or quality of support
  • To evaluate how successful your programs are, collect information about how long it takes your average client to complete school or find a job and then compare this information with your client performance standards
  • Use reviews to find out how likely your clients are to refer others to your center and in the process, ask them to provide references of people they know who might benefit from your center's programs.

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Resources: Photo credit. (1) Moz report: The 2015 Local Search Ranking Factors (2) BrightLocal