One of the most critical things business can do is to claim their Google My Business listing. These “local listings” enable businesses to be easily found by local customers. They also have the added benefit of enabling your business to be reviewed by customers. In this blog, I’ll cover the often tricky aspect of acquiring and managing Google reviews for businesses. This blog assumes your business has already claimed it’s Google My Business listing. If you haven’t, do it now by going to https://business.google.com.
Why should you get reviews?
Reviews bring credibility and trust to your business & reduce the risk of making a bad purchase for customers. As with most aspects in life, the most successful outcomes progress from a recommendation. Established businesses with no reviews often attract suspicion. Imagine the case of your local take away shop that’s been in business for years, but has no reviews. Would you be comfortable ordering food from there? Many people would not.
Ranking signals for Local SEO
As I mentioned at the start of this blog, Google Local listings are critical if you want to be found by local customers. That’s because these listings, all other things being equal, are displayed by Relevance, Distance and Prominence. The number and Reviews & interactions to these reviews are a ranking factor for the listings. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en
Ask for reviews
I once had a friend who told me “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”! This principle applies to Google reviews also. Most customers aren’t inclined to leave a review of their own accord unless they’ve had a terrible experience. As such, it’s critical you ask customers for a review of your business.
As always, it’s tricky to get the timing right. It shouldn’t be too early, where the customer hasn’t received the full value from your product or service, and it shouldn’t be too late, where the positive experience has already begun to fade.
To make it easier for your customers to leave reviews, it’s imperative you include the link to your Google My Business listing review. Here’s how you do that:
- Go to Google places: https://developers.google.com/places/place-id
- Search for your Place id by entering your businesses location:
Copy the place id:
Append the place id to the end of the link:
The end result of this process is a URL, that provides a direct link for customers to write reviews for your business, which displays the review box to clients, as can be seen below:
If you want to make the link even nicer for clients, use a URL shortener such as Bit.ly to generate a custom/short link.
Respond to all reviews
No matter whether they are positive or negative.
I see many businesses aren’t comfortable in responding to negative reviews. I always recommend business owners to respond to all reviews, as Google wants to see businesses interact with their customers. If the review is particularly negative, I recommend calming down taking a deep breath and explaining your side of the story (without arguing). The other option is to apologise for the poor experience that the customer experienced, no matter whether it’s justified or not.
It’s a bit like receiving a bad meal at a restaurant. A good waiter will apologise for the poor meal, rather than debate the merits (or lack thereof) of the diner’s complaints.
Negative reviews are actually positive (within reason), as they justify to customers that your business is real. Research has demonstrated that people usually seek negative reviews first when looking to buy expensive items. If there are no negative reviews, then it can look suspicious to potential customers. Studies have shown that the “sweet spot” for purchases from Google reviews is generally between 4.2 and 4.5.
Report any fake reviews to Google
Of course, you shouldn’t report all negative reviews, but if some reviews are obviously fake, or there’s clearly a conflict of interest, you can report them to Google for further investigation. This is done by opening your Google My Business console, clicking the reviews menu:
Clicking the right side of the “offending” review and then clicking the “Flag as inappropriate” box. You can then follow the prompts to categorise why the review is inappropriate.
In this blog, I’ve attempted to provide an overview for businesses on the importance of claiming and optimising their Google local listing. These local listings are critical for all businesses, but especially local businesses, as one of the primary factors used for search is the proximity or distance from the business. The review functionality of these listings is also critical for businesses and this article provides some tips for businesses to get started in requesting and managing these listings.