By Ross Pike
What’s the first thing you do when seeking the services of a new business? Chances are you look them up on Google. More than 60% of customers check Google reviews online before they visit a business. Understandably, they want to check out the experience others have had with your company before they commit to you.
This is why Google reviews are important, and why you should put effort into acquiring them. The first thing that appears when you search for a business on Google is that business’ reviews and average rating, and if these are not good, chances are potential customers will go elsewhere.
What are Google reviews?
Google reviews are business reviews left by customers on the Google platform. When someone searches for a business in Google or looks for directions in Google Maps, reviews are one of the first things they will see.
All you need to have to leave a review is a Google account, and it is a free service. The popularity of Google as a search engine and Google Maps means that these reviews are much more widely read than those on websites like Trustpilot.
Why Google reviews matter
As Google is the most used and trusted search engine, people pay attention to reviews on the platform. Google reviews are important because:
- They raise the profile of your business online. People are more likely to visit your website or your business if they see good reviews.
- They are beneficial for search engine optimization. If Google sees that you have good reviews, your website will be ranked higher in search engine results because Google can see you are popular and offer customers a good experience. As a result, good reviews improve your relevance. Google’s algorithm is dedicated to giving searchers the most relevant results, so having good reviews will improve your ranking.
- The star rating based on your average rating appears under your company name in your Google Business Profile. If you have 4 or 5 stars, this will result in more people clicking on your business listing.
- They allow you to receive essential feedback on your company. Feedback from customers helps you understand how your business is perceived by others and pinpoint areas for improvement.
- Good reviews improve brand trust. People trust Google, so they trust reviews found on your Google Business Profile.
It’s important to monitor your reviews regularly. If you notice recurring customer service issues or other complaints, you can rectify them to improve your customer experience.
How to get and respond to Google reviews
1. Set up a Google My Business account
The first thing to do is to claim your Google Business Profile. Chances are, if you have been around for a few years, you will already appear in Google Maps and local searches—you may even already have some reviews.
Once you claim and optimize your business profile it will be easier for people to find you and leave reviews. Here’s how to do it:
- Do a Google search for your business’s name.
- Click on the “Own this Business?” button. This will take you into the claim area for a Google Business Profile.
- Google will then need to verify your business. Once it has been verified, you’ll be able to make changes to your profile.
- You can add photos and a description of your business. Try to include a few keywords and phrases relevant to your business, but don’t overstuff it with keywords or use ones that are not relevant. This may get you a penalty.
2. Seek reviews from customers
Customers are usually only driven to write a review if they have had a negative experience; this means obtaining lots of great reviews isn’t something you can leave to chance. The first thing to focus on is providing excellent service so that you have happy customers. Then ask customers if they would mind leaving you a review on Google. This can be done by email or text. It’s a good idea to include a link to your business profile to make it easier for customers.
Consider your timing carefully—don’t wait until weeks after a customer has bought from you, or you may have slipped from their mind. It’s a good idea to request a review just after someone has purchased from you. Approach them when you think they will be free to write a review. Try first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon. Offer to supply a template for the review if necessary.
You can also automate this process with your e-commerce platform so that a review request is sent automatically after a customer purchases.
Finally, never buy reviews. If Google suspects you of this, you will be penalized and pushed down in rankings.
More articles from AllBusiness.com:
3. Explain to customers how to leave a review
Some customers won’t know how to leave a review so it’s worth explaining the process to them. They will have to:
- Log in to their Gmail account
- Search for your business through Google or Google Maps
- Click on the reviews section
- Write a comment and select the number of stars
- Press “post”
4. Thank customers for leaving a review
It’s a good idea to respond to reviews. Thanking a customer for a good review shows that you care what customers think about you and are grateful for their business. If there are any negative reviews, responding in an open manner that is not defensive will demonstrate that you are willing to make things right and own up to your mistakes.
5. Share a Google review link
To make it easier for customers to leave a review, send them a link to your business page. You can do this by:
- Visiting the Google Place ID finder
- Typing your company name in the “enter a location” box
- Selecting your company from the drop-down list
- Copying your place ID link
How to remove a bad review
You may get a review that you feel is unfair or inaccurate. You can report this review by flagging it as inappropriate. Google will only delete it if it violates one of its policies, so don’t expect them to delete a review just because it is negative.
If the review is just a frustrated customer, instead of reporting it, you can reply to the review, try to sort out the reviewer’s issues, and if you do, ask the customer to remove or edit the review. Speed is of the essence, so make sure you check your Google reviews regularly.
Don’t leave Google reviews to chance
Google reviews matter. They give your business credibility, increase click-through rates, and help your rankings.
For these reasons, it’s critical to pay attention to your business’ Google reviews. Encourage customers to leave good reviews for you, monitor your reviews, and respond to them, whether they are good or bad.
About the Author
Ross Pike is the Operations Director of Quadrant2Design, the UK’s leading independent exhibition stand contractor. Ross has a decade of experience working with design, manufacturing, marketing, and business operations in the exhibition industry.