What can getting more reviews on Google do for my business?
If you think getting more reviews on Google is not important for your business, it’s time to think again.
Go ahead, Google your business – that’s what your potential customers are doing. According to the BrightLocal 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey, 97% of consumers searched for local businesses on the Internet in 2017. This includes 12% who ran searches on a daily basis and 54% who searched for a business online at least once a month.
Consumers trust online reviews.
Almost every consumer uses the Internet to look for local businesses. Because consumers use the information they find online to help them decide where to go and what to buy, positive online reviews that differentiate your business from the competition are critically important.
In fact, 93% of the people who responded to the BrightLocal survey said they used local reviews as a way to evaluate businesses, and 68% reported that positive reviews influenced their decision about which business to use.
Consumers want to be able to trust a business, and 73% said that positive reviews make them trust a business more. The old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals that people have always relied on to help them identify trusted local businesses have gone digital. Now, a majority of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a personal recommendation. This is why getting more reviews on Google can support your business success.
Where do people go to find local business reviews?
When asked which source they depended on most for reviews, 16% of consumers said they liked to look for reviews on Google. This places the search engine giant in third place behind Facebook and Yelp, popular sites tied for the lead with 20% each.
This is a pretty strong ranking considering that Google did not launch its local search feature until 2012. It is a newcomer compared to Yelp, which has been hosting reviews since 2004. And of course no website has more penetration into people’s lives than Facebook with its massive 85 million plus in monthly US traffic. But Google has an increasingly dominant online presence and is predicted to eventually overtake Yelp as the most popular source for consumer reviews.
And unlike Yelp, Google encourages business owners to ask customers for reviews. It also offers the support and tools that business owners need to efficiently gather and respond to customer reviews. More importantly, reviews posted on Google are directly linked to the site’s search engine function and have positive effects on local SEO and search rankings.
The fate of your business is written in the stars.
Consumers might Google your business name and see the full listing that opens in the right-hand panel on the results page. Or your company may appear in key word search results. Either way, the first thing a potential patron sees is your business name, a star rating, and the number of Google reviews your business has.
It is critical to ensure that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP information) are correct. After that, star rating and review count are the most important items to pay attention to. It might be surprising to hear that the actual content of reviews seems to be losing importance for consumers. In 2016, review content was ranked second in importance behind star rating. In 2017, it dropped to 4th place, after star rating, review quantity, and review recency.
Although star rating is the most important factor to most consumers, the number of reviews is also very influential. The typical consumer wants to see 34 reviews before they are willing to trust the star rating, and 16% of people want to see 50 or more reviews.
It is not clear why consumers are putting less emphasis on the opinions expressed in reviews. Maybe people have no time to read full reviews, or don’t feel like reading them on a small mobile phone screen. Whatever the reason, one thing is very clear: high star ratings and review counts will drive traffic to your local business.
OK, how do I go about getting more reviews on Google?
Of course the first step is building a reputation management strategy and attending to the technical chores of setting up and managing a review pipeline. But for now let’s skip the nuts and bolts stuff and start with two general but very important pieces of advice.
The first thing to do is follow the commonsense rule that every business should live by: Deliver unparalleled service and an outstanding customer experience. Of course this is what anyone aiming to run a successful business should be doing already. Generating good word-of-mouth and referral chains has always been key to local business profitability.
However, we now live in a time when anyone who walks through your door can instantly publish their opinion of your products and services to thousands of other consumers. That is why ongoing, consistent dedication to excellence in all aspects of your operation is an absolute requirement for success in today’s market.
You also need to be willing to interact with and respond to customers beyond the shop doors and outside of business hours. Add in a firm desire to make things right when mistakes and lapses result in negative customer experiences, and you have what it takes to run a business in the Internet age.
The next thing to take on board is the fact that there are no shortcuts to establishing solid star ratings and a collection of great Google reviews. Forget about any sort of dishonesty or cheating. Fake reviews are something that nearly everyone is now aware of, with 79% of consumers reporting having seen one or more in the past year, and 70% saying that they sometimes or always find it easy to spot a fake review.
On top of that, Google has filters that are capable of detecting unnatural reviews. The algorithms involved are secret, but patterns of wording, pace of postings, history of the reviewers, and IP address information are all likely candidates for analysis.
Even if they don’t get tossed out by the Google spam filter or result in you being dragged into court, fake Google reviews can do a lot of harm to your business. This is true whether they are negative ratings placed by people trying to do damage or paid-for-reviews intended to make you look better. It is far better to simply manage your review acquisition process with an eye towards producing positive results while at the same time monitoring the review stream in readiness to deploy damage control strategies when necessary.
Here are the nuts and bolts of getting more reviews on Google.
Now that we have laid the groundwork for a solid Google review acquisition campaign, here are a few tips to get you started on collecting more 5-star Google reviews for your business.
Read the instructions. Start at the source with the information available in Google’s My Business Help section. Google wants things done a certain way when it comes to business reviews. Even if you are already getting Google reviews for your business, a refresher on their policies never hurts. By making sure that you and anyone else in your company who is involved in asking customers for reviews understand the rules, you will save time and headaches later. It is also a good idea to learn the rules that reviewers have to follow by checking out Google’s guide to writing reviews.
Set up a My Business account. A My Business account lets you manage your business listing and the information that potential customers see when searching with Google. You can control the way your business appears in Google Maps and search results, and learn a little bit about Google’s viewpoints on SEO and improving search rankings. Having an account also gets your business verified by Google. This makes it twice as likely to be trusted by Google users. Most importantly, an account lets you collect and respond to customer reviews. And since an account is free anyway, why not?
Ask your customers. Most customers react positively to a show of genuine interest in their feedback. There are many ways to ask. Try window stickers and cashier desk placards. You can also put reminder notes on the bottom of bills, invoices, and business cards, and include requests with links in email signatures. Use badges and widgets on your company websites. Also be sure that everyone who deals directly with clients is trained to request Google reviews and realizes the importance of maintaining a solid review stream.
Make it easy. Make sure that posting Google reviews is quick and easy for your customers. Personalized reminder emails with links, buttons on your website landing page, reminders on your company voice mail greeting, and links from your business’s social media sites are all good options. Don’t forget to include simple instructions where appropriate. You could have printed copies available at the front desk, create a blog post, or print a few lines on the back of business cards.
Be responsive. It goes without saying that reviews are not a one-way street. Customer reviews offer you an opportunity to engage with your market. Find out what people like and what you could be doing better. Listen to people who have had a bad experience and make sincere efforts to set things right. And remember to always thank your customers for their feedback.
Get Some Help. You can save time and money by getting in touch with professionals who have the tools and expertise needed to put a highly effective reputation management program in place for you. Managing your review stream is an essential component of maintaining a productive online presence, and it is a good place to get strong marketing ROI.
Consider getting set up with a user-friendly software package like Capture Review that lets you generate, monitor, and manage your reviews on Google and on all the other sites that matter. With the right tools, you can collect and display your best Google reviews on company websites and social media profiles. More importantly, you will be able to identify and respond to unhappy reviewers before they make public posts.
Reach for the stars on Google.
Already one of the big three consumer review sites, Google is gaining ground on first place every day. You cannot afford to overlook this Internet giant. Now that you know the basics of a sound Google review generation strategy, put the knowledge to work for your business. Getting more 5-star Google reviews should be a primary objective of your overall marketing program. If you put together an effective approach to getting more reviews on Google and leveraging them to benefit your business, you will see results in a few short weeks.