A Comprehensive Guide to Leveraging Google Reviews for Your Business
Are Google reviews really that important? Don’t the testimonials on a business website serve the same purpose?
Yes. Google reviews are critical when it comes to attracting new customers. And, no, the testimonials on your website, or even your Facebook page, won’t provide the same benefits as Google reviews. It is much more difficult to fake Google reviews than to post phony testimonials on your own website. Greater credibility increases the value in the eyes of consumers.
Claim Your Google Business Listing
There are lots of search engines out there, but Google is the most well-known and most used. It is estimated that 70% of all searches are done through Google. The integrated connection between Google Maps and Google Search is one of the reasons it has maintained its lead position for decades.
If you have not claimed and verified your Google business listing, do it now! Without a verified business listing on Google, you cannot manage the reviews on your listing.
There isn’t any cost involved in verifying your business, and Google takes its verification process very seriously. Their reputation is on the line. The first step is to create a Google account for your business if you don’t have one. If you have a Google email account already, you can go straight to google.com/business to “manage” your business account. After entering the information for your business, Google will “verify” your business information, usually by sending you a postcard in the mail with a verification code to activate your listing.
Make sure your Google business listing is up to date with your location, hours, contact info and with some hi-resolution photos of your business or products. It’s also important to have it linked to your website as well. Having a good online presence is vital for business growth and long-term sustainability in our technology-based society.
With an active, verified Google Business Listing, you can receive reviews on Google and respond to the reviews posted.
The Value of Google Reviews: Visibility, Credibility and Improvement
Every year the value attached to online reviews increases. This is especially true of the younger generation. A BrightLocal survey showed that 91% of consumers aged 18-34 trusted online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. And, although, the more reviews, the better, Spiegel Research Center data showed that as few as five reviews could increase the chances of a sale by 270%.
We are an instant society. We want to know who’s the best choice, and we want to find the answer in the few seconds it takes to look at a search page or Google map. In many cases, the consumer only looks at the star rating without bothering to read the reviews. Unless it is a major purchase, we want minimal research time. This is especially true when doing a “near me” search via Google Maps or voice search.
How many reviews should you have? The more, the better, of course. However, a 2018 survey showed 40 as a minimum goal to shoot for in total reviews, positive and negative. Having 40 or more reviews provides more confidence in the overall star rating than five perfect ratings. It is also important that customers are adding new reviews on a continual basis. Studies have indicated that 77% of consumers think reviews over three months old are no longer relevant.
Google Reviews Increase Your Google Ranking
There are a variety of factors that comprise the value of your Google reviews. The first being a boost in your visibility in Google searches. In case you haven’t noticed, Google’s listing of local businesses that match your search is not in alphabetical order. But the order of the list is not random. The number of positive reviews on your Google business listing will be a big factor in whether you show up at the top of the list or not. If your competitors have positive reviews and you don’t have any reviews, you will find yourself below them in the search list.
If you don’t have any reviews, you are less likely to be seen in a digital search. If you aren’t seen, you aren’t likely to be found by those needing your services. It’s as simple as that.
Google Reviews Are Highly Trusted
Providing high-quality recommendations to its users is the motivation behind many of Google’s algorithm upgrades. There many different review sites for customers to view, but none that are as simple to use and as trusted as Google. Google has gone to great lengths to protect its online review system from tampering or posting of fraudulent reviews. Offering incentives or rewards to your customers to encourage positive Google reviews is strictly against Google review guidelines and heavily frowned discouraged. Paying someone to provide reviews is illegal and can jeopardize the future of your business.
Google provides the opportunity for a 1-5 star rating and including specific feedback about why you rated a business the way you did. It also gives the verified business owner the option of responding to each review posted. Google encourages businesses to respond to all reviews, positive and negative. It will send an email to the reviewer with your response. No response can give the impression that you don’t value the effort the customer went to in writing the review. A simple “Thank you” is better than no response at all.
Feedback Offers Direction for Improvements
Reviewing feedback from previous customers (positive and negative) is a great way to improve business protocols and practices. Comments are especially helpful if they are specific about their experience or mention employees by name.
Companies pay big bucks for consumer insight into their companies – reviewers are giving it to you for free, so make sure and show them genuine appreciation. It’s not uncommon for a business to provide small discounts or freebies to customers for reviews that offer valuable insight. (It’s important to only offer a gift after the fact. Incentives for reviews violate the platform’s policy and will get the comments/ratings removed and potentially penalize the company.)
3 Steps to Gain More Google Reviews for Your Business
If a business doesn’t have any reviews on their Google Business Profile, it is probable that the business has never specifically asked their customers to leave a review. If they have asked, they didn’t assist their customers in fulfilling their request. Don’t let that be your excuse.
1. Ask Your Customer for Google Reviews
Over 68% of customers say they have left a review after they were asked to do so. Plus, asking for a Google review is simpler than ever. You can do it via email or text message. You can even have the request automated to be sent out immediately following an appointment or a purchase. Again, remember, you shouldn’t ask specifically for positive reviews or only make the request of happy customers. If every review on your profile is a 5-star review, it can actually make some people question whether the reviews are genuine.
Make your request as friendly and unintimidating as possible. Communicate the value you place on their feedback and your desire to know what is working and what is not. Personalize the request by using their first name, and, if possible, mentioning their last purchase or interaction with your business. Finally, express your appreciation for helping you out and supporting your business.
2. Simplify the Review Process
Don’t assume that your customer will figure out how and where to leave a Google review for your business. They won’t. Even if they know how and have good intentions of posting a review, once they glance away from your message, it will probably disappear from their mind. It’s your job to make it as quick and easy as possible for them to fulfill your request.
With the automation available today, this doesn’t have to require any handholding on your part at all. Just copy a link into your text or email message, so all they have to do is click. The link can be your Google My Business short link created in your Google profile. Too make it even easier, search for your business on Google or Google Maps and click Reviews. Click “Write Review” and then copy the url in your browser to share with your customers on your review request. You can use bit.ly or something similar to shorten the lengthy url into something more manageable if you like.
If you have specific areas of service or a product you would like feedback on, mention those in your message. “Is there anything we did great or something we could improve upon,” or “Tell us what you ordered and how you liked it.” Customers appreciate receiving some type of prompt that sparks ideas about what to write.
No response to your request? Schedule a quick reminder; they may have just gotten distracted. Keep it to the one reminder, only. You don’t want to be an annoyance. You can also request a review again after their next appointment or purchase.
3. A Little Peer Pressure Never Hurts
As much as we pride ourselves on being free-thinkers, today’s consumers are easily influenced by their peers. Plus, we want to feel that our opinions matter and can make a difference in the world. Share your Google reviews on your social media and encourage your followers to add their review to the list. It’s a great way to promote your business and boost your Google review numbers at the same time.
How to Respond to Positive and Negative Reviews
Potential customers will read your reviews on Google. They will also read your responses to those reviews. Both the review and the response will factor into their overall perception of your business. A Harvard Business Review study showed that customers are more likely to write a review for a business that has posted responses to the reviews of others. The appropriate response, especially to a negative review, can make all the difference in your online reputation.
- Respond promptly to all Google reviews, positive and negative. Google acknowledges your responsiveness with improved rankings.
- Always start with a thank you to show your appreciation for the time invested.
- Be courteous, not defensive, in responding to negative comments. Remember, for the one person who took the time to write a review there are probably several others who had a similar experience. They may read your answer too.
- If the issue which resulted in a poor review has been corrected, (long waits, limited hours, lack of parking, etc.) be sure to note that in your comment
- Contact the reviewer directly, if possible, to thank them for a positive review or discuss how you might satisfy the customer who left the poor review.
- When you do receive a negative review, ask them publicly on the platform to contact you directly or say you will contact them in a direct message. Keep the details of the situation private and try to resolve the situation amicably.
- If you resolve the issue that caused a negative review, ask the customer to edit or update their review and share the positive outcome.
Using Google Reviews in Your Marketing Strategy
Reviews have been shown to increase conversion rates by 190% or more. If you’re selling luxury items or high-ticket services, those reviews are especially critical. Reviews impact sales on higher-priced purchases twice as much as they do the sales of lower-priced items. The more money a person is going to spend, the more assurance the buyer wants that he is making the right choice. Regardless where your product or service falls in the mix, online reviews will make a significant impact on your revenue.
One of the big benefits of online reviews is how easy it is to share those reviews across other platforms. A screenshot of your Google Review star rating can easily be used as a social media post, in an email or a blog post. Each new review is another promotional opportunity.
You may not realize it, but every time a customer posts a review on your Google business profile, they usually read the other reviews. This adds reinforcement to their positive view of your business and increases their likelihood of following the trend of other positive comments.
Get Help Managing Your Google Reviews
If all this information seems a bit overwhelming, we get that, but it doesn’t have to be. Like most things today, it is getting the process established and operating that takes the most time. Once that is done, you’ll see reviews popping up regularly. This is where we can help.
We’ll help you establish an automated system to contact clients asking for Google reviews and makes it simple to complete on the spot. As those reviews show up on your Google My Business page, we send you real-time updates as they come in. This enables you to respond quickly to the postings. We’ll also intercept those less than stellar reviews and expedite the issue to your attention. That way you can deal with any customer relation issues right away and possibly turn a poor review into a positive one.
Are you ready to grow and improve your business reputation online? Contact us to learn how we can help you get a jump on the competition.