Obtaining Google reviews is a great way to attract new business, by building trustworthiness amongst your new and loyal clients. Consumers are becoming increasingly dependant on online reviews to make purchasing decisions, so Google Reviews for your business, are an absolute must.
Google Reviews also help you rank in local search results. Google ranks recognized company names (as a result of citations on other websites) higher than ones it has never seen.
Some businesses may find it difficult to obtain Google reviews because you’re asking someone to go out of their way to benefit you. We are all busy and get caught up in our own lives, so you really need to remind your happy customers to leave you a review!
Ranking Benefits of Google Reviews
Online review signals (review quantity, velocity, diversity etc) are one of the ranking factors for the local pack (listings under the map on the first page of the Google search results) and local SEO organic positions on the search result pages, as reported in the Moz 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors.
It’s hard for any business to get positive and genuine (NEVER fake reviews by asking friends/family/colleagues to leave a review for you) reviews online. This is why if you actively have a strategy in place to obtain reviews, you’re more likely to stand out from competitors.
87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 – up from 81% in 2019
– Local Consumer Review Survey 2020, BrightLocal.
Any positive reviews you can get online are a benefit to your online reputation. Whether they’re on Google, Facebook or another third-party review website. However, for this post, we want to solely concentrate our focus on Google My Business reviews, due to their potential impact on your SEO marketing success.
How do you leave a review?
The first thing you need is a Google account. You can easily sign up for one using your own email address (you don’t need Gmail for the signup), once verified and logged in, you can start leaving reviews. Click the ‘sign in’ link on the upper right-hand corner; this will take you to your sign-in form, with a ‘create account’ link if you haven’t already got one.
When leaving a review, you first-rate the business out of 5 stars, and then you can leave a detailed paragraph of your experience. It’s best practice to leave a nice review, or nothing at all, however, there will be times when you do receive the odd bad review.
Responding to Reviews
Its recommended you respond to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative. This shows you are a real business and are active online. Responding to a positive review is straightforward, some good examples are below:
Responding to a negative review can be a little trickier – the first thing we recommend, is to remove the emotion from your response. A negative review is a great opportunity for your business to learn and grow. It also gives you the ability to put your side of the story across.
Some examples of how to manage a difficult review are below:
We recommend having a chat with your digital marketing agency to help put together an appropriate response for your business.
Tips to Get More Google Reviews
So, the question is, how can you go about driving more online reviews to your Google My Business listing? We have put together some of our top suggestions below. Each business should have a tailored Review Strategy, which works for your industry and customers, have a chat with your local SEO team to put together the right strategy for you.
Ask for a Google My Business Review (in Person!)
It’s easier said than done when it comes to asking for a Google review. But it is probably one of the most effective strategies out there. Asking in person will have a higher success rate than virtually any other method.
“7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to”
– BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey.
It’s a good time to ask for a review when you know your business has done a great job at satisfying a customer/client. The sooner you can ask for the review, the better, as the experience will be fresh in their mind.
Plus, it’s also worth noting that Google promotes that you ask clients for reviews. And don’t forget to say thank you!
Provide a ‘How to Leave a Google Review’ Handout
With Google My Business reviews, you do have to sign in to Google to leave a review. This is often seen as an extra hurdle the customer/client must jump through to leave the review. It can be off-putting however you do have the opportunity to make this process easier by guiding them through it.
At White Chalk Road we will help clients put together a ‘Please leave us a review’ handout which they can email or physically hand to customers to guide the customer through the process of leaving a review.
Provide a Direct Link to Leave a Review
You can also send clients a direct link to where someone can leave a review. Each business gets a review shortcode, similar to this:
You can either pop the above link into the body of an email, link it in your email signature or even print it out to pass on directly to customers. Get creative and think outside of the box.
Automated Review Management Systems
There are several automated review management systems that will do the leg work for you. Naturally, there will be a cost involved in this option, however, it may be more viable for your business.
These review services automate the process of collecting feedback from your clients and prompting those happy reviewers to leave reviews on third-party review sites.
Some services to consider include:
Ask on Social Media
If you’re active on social media, it doesn’t hurt to pop up a post to ask customers to take 5-10 minutes to leave a review. Scheduling a post like this across all your channels once a month isn’t hard to do and helps remind people to leave a review.
Wording similar to this works well:
It was our sincere pleasure to provide our service to you recently.
As a local business, we rely enormously on positive word of mouth and would be grateful if you could take a minute to write a quick Google review for our business
You could also share past reviews on social media to give others a hint and show how much a review means to your business.
For a lot of small to medium businesses, email marketing is under-utilised. Even if you don’t have an in-house marketing department or manager, utilising services like MailChimp can be a great way to set up email campaigns.
In MailChimp for free, you can create a first purchase automation campaign, which will automatically send an email to a user asking for a review.
Or you can simply have a template designed and ready to go which you can tweak before sending to a customer. The more you can personalise this email, the better the response you’ll have.
Also, don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email if you don’t get a response. We’d recommend only 1 follow up email and don’t leave it too long – 4-5 days after the initial email is ideal. Sometimes emails can be easily overlooked or accidentally deleted.
Offer Employee Incentives, not Customer Incentives
Firstly, don’t offer customers an incentive for a review. This is a very grey area and one that is better to stay away from than get involved with.
By incentivising customers to leave a review it looks more like a bribe. The fact of the matter is, the reviewer doesn’t get a whole lot out of leaving an online review. But hopefully, they’re so satisfied with their service/product that they feel it’s their way of saying thanks to your business.
On the other hand, employers can incentivise staff to proactively ask (see point 1) for customer reviews. This will not only help obtain the business more reviews (and communicate its importance to staff) but it’ll also encourage employees to do their jobs even better because a satisfied customer is more likely to respond to a review request.
This goes without saying, if you’re good at what you do, customers will be happy and then asking for a review will be easy.
A good motto to go by in business is to ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ whether it means you finish a project before the deadline, deliver their purchase early, perhaps throw in a couple of extra perks into the mix or simply wow them with the best customer service they have ever experienced.
Think about your own experiences as a customer, what makes you happy and entices you to leave a positive review?
Talk to a Local SEO Expert Today
Google My Business is a free service that all business owners should be utilising. An intentional Google review acquisition strategy will help you improve your online reputation and reach.
Just remember, if it’s hard for you to get reviews, it is just as hard for competitors to get reviews. Patience, persistence and being the best, will help you succeed.