Review sites have become so deeply ingrained into the online community’s fabric that it would seem nearly impossible to choose a restaurant, learn about a deal or receive feedback without them. Be it on Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, or any one of the myriad of review sites out there, each of these play a huge part in how we make decisions and how we run our businesses. For customers, trust can be built from reading reviews. Any digital marketer will tell you that online review management is essential to fostering a positive and profitable reputation for your business, but what some forget is that it isn’t just your dedicated review sites that hold the scales of fortune in their hands.
Google, the undisputed king of search engines and maps, hosts a reviews and ratings system that may prove even more important to your business than any other review site.
What Are Google Reviews?
Google Reviews are reviews and ratings (out of 5 stars) left by Google users that will appear in tandem with your business’s listing in both Maps and Search. Such feedback is, needless to say, incredibly influential to prospective customers as our first experience of a business is often through its Google listing. If your rating is low or your reviews are bad, then this will negatively affect your ability to draw in these new customers through SEO and map searches. Meanwhile, a wholesale lack of reviews will ensure your site is less trusted by those who were thinking of visiting (when was the last time you went to a restaurant with no online customer reviews or ratings?).
However, it isn’t just getting Google Reviews that is important. Responding to Google reviews shows that you value customer feedback and criticism and is a fantastic tactic to boost your site’s visibility and local SEO ranking—not to mention a great way to foster a sense of community that will entice new customers while keeping existing ones coming back for more. If you are intent on harnessing the power of Google Reviews for your business, then the first thing you need to do is register your business with Google and create a Google My Business page.
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business is your customizable listing page that people will see when searching for your business or businesses like it in your area. Rather than leaving your business’s first impression in the hands of the bots, Google My Business allows you to tailor your listing to maximize traffic and draw customers in. From letting you upload photos, to selecting keywords to associate with your business, to laying out the geographical area in which you provide your service, Google My Business is your face, your front page, your first step on the road to local SEO.
It is what everyone will see when they Google your business’s name or stumble upon it as they search. Like Google Reviews, Google My Business is about making an impression on your audience and fostering trust. A lack of engagement—be it the absence of photos, business hours, contact information, coupons or keywords—can turn prospective clients off to your listing and make them choose the next person’s service. Google My Business is also the only way to manage your Google Reviews and engage with those who are leaving them.
How To Make A Google Review
The first step to making a Google review is to sign into your Google account. If you don’t already have one, creating an account is easy and can be accomplished in just a few minutes. Sign in by visiting Google (www.google.com) or Google Maps (www.google.com/maps) and clicking the “Sign In” button at the top right of the screen and logging into your account.
- Sign into your Google account.
- Type the name of the business you wish to review in the search bar.
- Click the listing.
- Near the bottom of the business’s listing click “Write a Review”.
- Now you can rate, review and even upload photos before clicking “Post” to post your review publicly.
Using Google Reviews on your mobile phone is a little different but similarly easy to accomplish.
- Log into your Google account.
- Search for the business you wish to review.
- Click on its listing.
- Click the “Reviews” section to the right of “Overview” and rate the listing between 1 and 5 stars.
- This will redirect you to a page where you can change your rating and write your review. Press “Post” and you’ve just made a mobile Google Review.
How To Get Google Reviews
For business owners, one of the most important aspects of Google Reviews is not just achieving a high rating and getting great customer feedback, but gaining the volume of reviews, you need to succeed in the space and shine over the competition. Sometimes, depending on what business you’re in, getting these reviews can be a difficult thing to accomplish. Where some businesses lend themselves naturally to the review arena (restaurants, bars, gyms, etc.), others may not necessarily drive the critical attention of those who use their services (law firms, auto shops, plumbers). The following are a few tips to getting Google reviews:
Tip 1: Do Not Buy Reviews – The oldest trick in the book has been found wading in the digital marketplace. The sophisticated algorithms Google and other review sites employ are tailor-made to crawl reviews and determine which ones are genuine. The companies that supply paid review services are often black-balled, and their work is easily identifiable (not to mention it’s forbidden by the Federal Trade Commission if the reviewer does not state they have received compensation). If you are found to be in violation of Google’s policies against peddling services and discounts for reviews, then consequences will inevitably ensue—the most severe of which is a drop in the Google rankings.
Tip 2: Include links to your Google My Business on your website – Encouraging those who visit your website to visit your Google My Business listing and write a review of their experience is a fantastic way to get reviews and foster trust.
Tip 3: Use Follow Up Emails – Asking customers for a review via email a few weeks after services have been rendered is a great way to get reviews while also reminding them of your business and their potential need to use it again. The key is not to be too pushy or to send emails that are unsolicited or spammy, as this will ensure you a place in their Junk folder.
Tip 4: Include a Review Request link in confirmation emails and thank you pages – To expand on the above tip, including a review request link on your confirmation emails to customers (as a part of your signature or as a sign off) has been known to generate reviews. However, considering that confirmation emails and thank you pages are usually encountered before the customer receiving the service, these reviews may only reflect on the shopping experience or customer service.
Tip 5: Ask for Reviews after Shipping – Once again, asking for a review is the best way to get one, and what better time than once your customer has your product in their hands? If your business ships items to consumers, including a review request along with the product can help bring you reviews.
Online reviews are more trusted and more widely read than ever before. Taking control of your Google My Business and embracing Google Reviews will help you rise in local SEO and push you to make your business better than ever before. Working with your community of customers, taking on their feedback and criticism, responding and working with them, can all help to push your rating, ranking, and your reviews into the digital marketing stratosphere.