Use Google Reviews to Optimize Your Business
Have you just eaten the best-truffled mac and cheese of your life? Did your massage therapist have magic hands? Or was that ballroom class so intoxicating that you made like David Bowie and danced, magic danced?
Google users would sure love to know, as more than 6 in 10 consumers, a whopping 64% to be exact, look to Google for reviews when making a decision. (1)
These are your potential customers. It almost goes without saying, that if 64% of people are looking at online reviews prior to making a decision, you should put some effort into making sure that you have some good reviews so that your potential customers can see just how awesome your business is.
Collecting positive reviews can have a massive impact on your business’ influence, reputation, and bottom line – and a little effort can go a long way.
We’re here to help. So we’ve gone ahead and created this ultimate guide for Google Reviews – let’s dive in.
There are several questions that business owners have about Google reviews. Our goal is to make this article a comprehensive guide to mastering the fine art of getting positive reviews for your business on Google.
Here are some of the things you can expect to learn about Google Reviews in this article:
- Why reviews are ESSENTIAL to your business
- A step-by-step process to get reviews from your customers
- Providing an amazing customer experience
- Making reviews easy for customers
- How to ask for reviews
- How to optimize your Google My Business page
- Why incentivizing reviews is a bad idea
- Removing Google reviews
Google My Business: Is It REALLY Worth It?
“I already have a business website. I also have social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Do I really need Google My Business Reviews, too?!”
If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Owning a business is hard enough, but operating one in 2019 means a lot of extra work—most of which goes to strengthening your online presence. There are already so many things you need to do to maintain a visible online brand, and adding Google My Business on top of it might seem excessive.
But if you’re trying to maximize your digital marketing efforts, ignoring Google My Business is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. (2)
Google My Business is a special tool that helps you, as a business, improve your visibility on their search engine. Through this platform, you have much more control over your online reputation. Here are some of the things you can do via Google My Business that you can’t do anywhere else:
Update Frequently: Keep Your Important Business Information Current
When people are searching for your business via Google, there are some pieces of information that they might like to know. Where are you located? What are your operating hours? How can you be contacted? What are the common questions people have about your business (and what are the answers)? Keeping your GMB listing updated gives them all of this information at the click of a button.
Google Reviews Can Help To Improve Search Engine Presence
Having a fully-filled out Google My Business profile allows Google to gather more data about your business, which they can then use to match you to with users who are looking for what you have to offer. You’ll show up more for relevant Google searches within your area, increasing your chances of snagging a new customer.
Google Analytics: Gain Useful Insight Into Your Online Performance
Through Google My Business’ analytics, you’ll be able to find some incredibly valuable data. Information such as what keywords people are using to find your business, who is searching for you, where they’re searching from, and how they interact with your results will help you tweak your marketing strategy and provide a better customer experience in the future.
Business Announcements And Promotions
Even if you’re already familiar with Google My Business, you might not know that you can post on your GMB profile in the same way that you post on social media. These posts get “pinned” to your profile, allowing users to see important information right away. Popular post categories include limited offers, sales, and company announcements. (3)
Google My Business Can Increase Bookings
Service-based businesses like home cleaning, consultation, or healthcare base their success on how many appointments they schedule. Booking in the traditional ways (phone calls or emails), mean that you could be missing out on a great opportunity to attract new customers. Google My Business allows you to accept online bookings straight from the search engine results page. (4)
Collect, Manage, And Respond To Reviews
Review management is perhaps the most useful feature of Google My Business Reviews. This article zeroes in on how you can maximize your GMB profile for more positive reviews. We’ll go more in-depth about this later. (5)
And My Oh My, SO Many Benefits!
There are a lot of things you can do on Google My Business. Add to that the fact that it’s a COMPLETELY FREE TOOL offered by the biggest search engine in the world, and you should have no more doubts about including it in your online marketing strategy.
After all, what’s a few hours of work a week in exchange for significantly better visibility, happier customers, and a more popular business?
How Reviews On Google Benefit YOUR Business
Before we get into the details of how to get reviews and respond to them appropriately, we first need to talk about why you should care about them in the first place.
Reviews Attract New Customers
Many businesses will spend a lot of money on making a fancy new product, renovating their stores, or sprucing up their websites just to attract new customers. But many underestimate the power of authentic reviews, which can be worth more than all of your marketing efforts combined.
Why are reviews so impactful?
They build something money can’t buy: trust. With reviews, potential customers looking at your business will have the opportunity to listen to your REAL customers talk about their REAL experiences. And what they read can influence their decisions and behavior more than you think.
More than 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchasing decision. For many, it will be the first impression they have about your business, so you have to make it count. A 4 or 5-star rating isn’t a 100% guarantee that customers will buy from you, but a 1 or 2-star rating is almost a 100% guarantee that they WON’T. (6)
Reviews Promote Your Business’ Online Visibility
If you haven’t been making room for search engine optimization in your digital marketing plan, now’s the time to start.
With the right SEO practices, you can influence your search engine ranking and achieve a higher position on the results page. More and higher reviews signals to Google’s algorithm that you’re an authentic, high-quality business that consumers can trust.
Reviews also have an added pull when it comes to local SEO, or when people search for a business nearby. You could even get featured in Google Search’s local pack which recommends three or four relevant businesses to the user. More reviews = more chances that Google will recommend YOUR business over your competition.
The number of your reviews, your actual rating, whether or not relevant keywords are included in the review, and other factors can contribute as much as 13% to your local pack ranking.
Reviews Improve Your Business
An underrated benefit of getting reviews from your customers is that you gain insight into what actually matters to them. Negative reviews, in particular, help you identify your business strengths and weaknesses.
Whether it’s slow customer service or a design flaw in one of your products, customer feedback gives you the opportunity to come up with solutions that actually address your customers’ concerns.
Taking concrete steps to improve your business will reduce negative feedback in the long run. Plus, this shows that you care enough to listen to your customers and generates a lot of good faith with your customer base. (7)
Reviews Boost Your Paid Ads
You can make your Google Adwords even more effective when you have a good rating on Google My Business. Reviews optimize your paid ads by attaching your ratings from your profile or store to your ads.
With Adwords, you already pay to rank for good keywords, but a high star rating could be the extra push an indecisive customer needs. It follows a pay-per-click model, so you’re only actually paying when the ad actually converts a user into a potential customer.
To have your ratings included in your paid ads, you need to have at least 30 reviews with a 4-star rating or higher.
Reviews Increase Sales
If you make an effort to cultivate your online presence, collect reviews on Google My Business, and build relationships with your customers, you could see a high return on your investment.
It just makes logical sense that positive reviews encourage click-throughs. Then, once your customer has gone on to the next stage of your sales funnel (by going to your website), you are in a much better position to convert them into an actual paying customer.
High-ranking reviews mean more traffic, both to your website and your physical locations. The more traffic you get, the more opportunities you have to close a sale.
The research proves that reviews can influence real-world purchasing behavior. A 2011 study conducted by Harvard on reviews discovered that an increase in rating of just one star could result in a revenue increase of up to 9%. (8)
How To Get Reviews From Your Customers
Valuable info for customers on your business, appears next to your name and business information on Google Maps and in the search engine results page, so it is one of the first things they see, make a good impression, here’s how to collect more reviews from your customers
Step 1: My Secret To Providing An Excellent Customer Experience (Don’t Skim Over This!)
In the movie Ocean’s 11, Danny Ocean approaches his ex-wife, Tess, in an effort to win her back from her new boyfriend, casino owner Terry Benedict.
Tess, trying to get rid of Danny before Terry shows up to dinner, says, “I’m with Terry now”. Danny responds by asking, “Does he make you laugh?” to which Tess responds, “He doesn’t make me cry.”
If you’ve seen the movie, you know who Tess ends up with. (If not, spoiler alert, she ends up back with Danny.)
You may be asking what Ocean’s 11 has to do with reviews, and the answer is almost everything.
When business owners respond to questions about their ability to gather reviews and referrals, they often think their customers are rarely upset. But as the scene above laid out for us, there is a difference between providing a great experience and not providing a bad experience.
Long before a customer submits a review, they have their first interactions with your business. You can only control so much, thus it is imperative that everything your company does, down to the smallest detail, has value, purpose and ultimately plays into the experience you desire for your customer.
There’s little margin for error, and each team member has an effect. Success takes everyone working together.
Reliability is a big deal (and it’s a big deal in relation to the kinds of reviews you’ll receive online– it’s relevant). Reliability goes beyond being on time or delivering a consistent product. Reliability is the thread that ideally goes through each part of your proverbial assembly line.
Think of the different parts of your business. Is there synchronicity within each layer? Is your branding consistent with your product? Do you deliver the product the way you’ve marketed to your customers? Do you deliver when you say you will?
The Values Institute’s study about business reputations said these five values increase feelings of trust and reliability in a brand: (9)
- Ability To Perform
- Concern For Consumers, Employees And Community
- Connection In Value Systems
- Consistency And Dependability Of Product Or Service
Not surprisingly, negative reviews almost always have to do with a lack in one or more of those values. So let’s get on board with ability, concern, connection, consistency, and sincerity.
While reliability is on our minds, there are a few more ways you can control the consistency of your online presence. In addition to asking your happy customers to write a review, consider doing the following:
- Make sure all company information is updated on all reviews websites
- Have customer service easily accessible on your website
- Respond to your customers across your various social media platforms, even complaints (but allow a few days to pass for an unhappy customer to cool down before responding)
- Use Google Alerts to help with reputation management and review management (10)
- Utilize your website to showcase testimonials (given you have permission), awards, or validation/press from other media sources
- Be open about your story and the history of your company–vulnerability and honesty creates the human connection that helps your customers trust you
Step 2: Make Google My Business Reviews Easy For Your Customers
No matter how amazing your customer experience is, there will always be an inverse correlation between the number of reviews that you get and the difficulty that a customer faces when leaving a review.
If your customer has to go through hoops, sign up for an account, and fill out a 10-page questionnaire before they can post their thoughts, that’s going to discourage a lot of them from writing one at all!
You want to make your process of leaving a review as simple as possible. The fewer steps your customer has to take to write a review, the better. Here are some easy options to go about this:
Find A Review Software That Automates The Process
In an ideal world, everyone would have automated review software like Weave that allows customers to easily provide feedback by way of reviews.
You can typically set these up to send requests to everyone who has an interaction with your business, or you can opt to send those requests manually to customers that you know have had an amazing experience.
Because you can send an automated review request to customers after they’ve completed a transaction with you, you’re getting them at the time when they’re most likely to leave you a review.
Review requests make it simple and easy for your customer. Usually, the request includes a link that they just have to click on. They will then get redirected to your Google My Business reviews page, where they can leave you a review in just a few minutes.
Statistically speaking, an automated system will allow you to generate the highest number of reviews when compared to any other option.
Generate A Simple Google Review Link For Your Business
There are a lot of questions regarding how to generate a custom Google Review link for your business. There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this.
The easiest is by creating a link from Google Search. Just follow these steps:
- Search for your business on the Google search bar.
- Navigate to your Google My Business listing and click on “Write a review”.
- Copy the URL in the address bar.
- Send the URL to your customers.
If that doesn’t work for some reason, there is also a longer, somewhat complicated process. You can generate a review link by using the PlaceID Lookup Tool.
Let’s walk you through it so you can set it up yourself.
- Search for the PlaceID Lookup Tool from Google.
- In the “Enter a location” search bar, type in your business name.
- Click on the correct listing for your business.
- Look for your PlaceID. You should see this underneath your business name. Your PlaceID is a long string of numbers and letters.
- Copy your PlaceID and add it into the following URL:
https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<insert PlaceID here>
Teach Your Customers How To Write A Review
While this will definitely be the route with the lowest success, it is still possible. Collecting a Google Review is not extremely simple without automation, but you can still effectively generate new reviews by educating your customers on how to write a review for your business. (11)
Below we’ve written steps that you’re free to copy and paste to hand out to your customers should you choose to go this route.
Let’s start at the ground level. There are two devices you can do this from; your computer, or your smartphone. The process is different for each, and your customers will need a Google account to do it.
Write A Google Review From Your Computer
- Log into your Google account, and search for the business you want to review.
- Find the reviews area (next to the star rating in your search results, or under the establishment’s name in the sidebar in Google search) and click on the blue font that says “WRITE A REVIEW.”
- Rate the business from 1 to 5 stars (the greater numbers indicate a positive experience), write about your experience, and click “POST” when you’re done.
Write A Google Review From Your Smartphone Browser
- In your cell phone’s browser, go to Google’s main webpage and search for the business you’re going to review.
- The right side of the results page will pull up the business. Scroll down to the “WRITE A REVIEW” button and click on it.
- Select the star rating that correlates with your experience, include a few details about it, and click “POST” when you’re satisfied with your review.
Write A Review From The Google Maps App
- In the Google Maps app on your phone, search for the business that you want to review.
- Maps will return a result with a map that includes a banner at the bottom about the business. Click that banner.
- Scroll down in the window that pops up until you get to the reviews section. You will see five stars unpopulated with your profile picture above them. Click on the number of stars you would like to leave for the business and proceed to write about your experience.
- Click “POST” to leave the review.
Writing a review is a simple process, even for your older or more technologically-challenged customers. But teaching them how to write a review is one thing, and encouraging them to actually do it is another.
You’ll need to get used to asking for reviews, which brings us to step three.
Step 3: How To Ask For Reviews
Did you know that while 71% of consumers would actually leave a review if a business just asked, a whopping 30% of consumers have never been asked at all? That’s quite a huge gap. (12)
It’s obvious that businesses aren’t taking advantage of their customers’ willingness to leave reviews—mostly because they didn’t know they could just ask in the first place! This step is where most business owners struggle, but asking for reviews can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. (13)
You could say something simple like, “Hey [customer name], would you be willing to leave a review about your experience?” or “Did you like the product you bought? Maybe you could leave us a review!” Even these casual review requests can be effective and are certainly much better than not asking at all.
However, if you want to get the best response rate possible, there are some psychological aspects that you should consider when you are putting together your review script.
Ask Your Customers To Leave A Review In The Form Of A ‘Favor’
If your customers have had a good experience with your business, they’re usually more than happy to “pay it back” through a positive review. Framing your review request as a “favor” lessens your customers’ feeling of obligation. Interestingly enough, this makes them more likely to comply with your request! (14)
Studies show that providing support to others actually makes people happier. Asking for a favor not only shows that you have trust in your customers, but it also allows them the opportunity to provide support for you and your business. When asked in the right way, most happy customers will be happy to leave a good review.
Remind Your Customers That They Had A Good Experience
Reminding the customer that they enjoyed their experience invokes good thoughts and memories for them. The importance here is evident: when your customers remember how much they like you and your products or services, their reviews tend to skew more positive.
This reminder also gives them the chance to let you know if their experience wasn’t what you thought it was. If you’re corresponding through email or text, this is a great opportunity to listen to their complaints, address their concerns, and resolve the issue without the impact of a negative rating.
Give Them A Reason To Write A Review
This goes far deeper psychologically than thinking that providing a good experience is a sufficient reason for customers to want to leave a review.
Interestingly enough, giving a reason for your request ups the chances that your customers will oblige. Studies performed by a Harvard professor in 1978 revealed the power of the word “because”.
It went like this: participants of the study were tasked to try and cut in front of someone in a line to use a copy machine.
The first group would ask, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
The second group would ask, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
The third group would ask, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
The results of this study were very interesting, and may not be exactly what you think:
The success rate of the first group was 60%. The success rate of the second group, although they were saying almost exactly the same thing except with an additional reason, was an astounding 93%.
How do you think the third group did?
It’s no surprise that the fourth group had a high success rate. But what IS surprising is that their success rate, even though their reason seems like it would be more convincing, was only marginally higher than the second group’s at 94%.
The conclusion of the study is that giving someone a reason for a request will increase your success rate no matter the reason.
So when you’re asking for a review, be sure to include a reason—any reason at all. “Because we would love to hear your thoughts” or “because we care about what you think of our business” may just be a few extra words, but it can go a long, long way in improving your review collection rate.
Thank Them For Being Willing To Leave A Review
When it comes to customer service gratitude is always a good idea. Saying “thank you” when someone’s done you a favor is, simply put, the right thing to do.
In a cold email response study, response rates increased dramatically when gratitude was expressed in advance. This works well with the other tips (such as framing your request as a “favor”) and shows that you are grateful for any help your customers can offer.
Put All Of These Tips Together For A Powerful Review Request
Now let’s see how these tips, altogether, work to increase your review generation rate. You’re welcome to copy this script or tweak it to fit your business’ unique needs.
“Hey __________ [customer name], thanks for coming in today! I was wondering if you could do me a favor?”
*Customer responds affirmatively*
“Did you have a good experience transacting with us today?”
*Customer responds affirmatively*
“Good, I’m glad to hear that! Would you mind writing a review about your experience? Because it really helps other customers make the decision to come here.”
*Customer responds affirmatively*
“Thanks! We really appreciate you being willing to do that! In a few moments you will get a review request from our office. You can just follow the link that we send you. It makes it really simple!”
A happy customer is likely to reciprocate the positivity if you just ask. By making the process simple and introducing a little bit of psychology into the equation, you’re well on your way to acquiring a bank of positive reviews.
WHEN To Ask For Reviews
Technically, there are no hard and fast rules about when to ask your customers to leave you a review. You can send review requests to old customers or you can send them within minutes of their purchase. A “late” review request is better than no review request at all, but you can optimize your review collection by getting the timing right.
The BEST time to ask for reviews will depend largely on what kind of business you run.
If you sell products, a good time to ask would be after the customer receives the item and has had some time to try it out. If you’re a service-oriented business, then you should ask immediately after the service has been completed.
What do both of these have in common? The best time to ask is when the experience is fresh in your customer’s mind.
Set Up Google My Business So People Can Find Your Reviews
Your Google My Business page is one of your most valuable online assets. Optimizing it properly will help your business be found in both map and organic searches within Google, and, in turn, allow more people to see your awesome reviews.
This is a major aspect of what SEO professionals call local SEO or local search. Local SEO targets real consumers who are nearby, upping your chances of converting one of them into a paying customer.
There are many different practices that fall under the local SEO umbrella. This goes far beyond just claiming your page. To help you get started and make the most of out of your Google My Business listing, here is your all-inclusive guide to setting up your business page.
Verify Your Business On Google
Verifying your business is the first thing you absolutely need to do to optimize your Google My Business profile. If you have not already done this, you will need to do so before you can accomplish many of the steps we will go through here. (15)
To verify your business on Google, start by logging into the Google account that you would like to manage the page with. Be sure that this is an account that you will have continual access to. Otherwise, you could lose control of your Google My Business page.
Once you are logged in, go to https://www.google.com/business. You will land on a page that looks like this:
Google My Business Login Page
Click on the “MANAGE NOW” button. If you have already claimed and are already managing your business, this will take you to your Google My Business dashboard. If not, you will see a page that looks like this:
Enter Name of Business in GMB
Type the name of your business and then click the “Next” button. From there you will see a page that looks like this:
Claim Business in Google My Business
Click the “Finish” button. Google is going to give you a way to verify that you do indeed own the business that you are trying to claim.
Sometimes this will be as simple as Google calling the phone number associated with the business and providing you with a code, but other times you will need to receive a postcard at the business address listed. That screen will look like this:
Confirmation of business ownership via postcard
If Google gives you the phone number option, you can be immediately verified and begin managing your Google My Business profile right then and there.
If you are given the postcard option, you will get the postcard in the mail within about a week. Don’t worry, you can still make all of the changes that we are going over in this article, they just might not show up until you enter the verification code on the postcard.
Once you’ve verified your business, you’re ready to go on to the next steps!
Complete Your Business Info
Right off the bat, at the top of the left-hand side menu, you will see posts. We will get into these later, so ignore the posts for now.
The first thing you will want to do is navigate to the info section on the left-hand side menu.
This will open up a window where you can enter almost everything about your business. Fill this in as thoroughly as possible.
Completing this section ensures that Google provides as much accurate information to your customers as they can. If you have other listings (such as on Facebook Business or Yelp), you want to use the same information across the board.
You might not know this, but ANYONE can suggest edits to your Google My Business profile. That’s right—a stranger or even your biggest competition can change your business information at any time.
Even if you’ve claimed and verified your listing, you might not be notified about user edits. So it’s important to check back in on your information regularly to ensure that the info is still accurate and updated.
Here’s a breakdown of the “Info” screen, section by section:
Make sure your business name is correct and that it matches everything else that people can find about your business online. This includes being consistent about spelling, punctuation, and others.
For example, if you’re listed as “St. Mary’s Health Clinic – Downtown” on other sites, avoid using other variations such as “St Mary’s Health Services And Clinic Downtown”.
Why does this matter? Google cross-checks your GMB profile information with business mentions across the world wide web. The more consistent it is across multiple platforms, the more they trust your information as accurate.
Your category tells Google what the nature of your business is, so that it can better match you to their users’ searches. Having the right category associations is the third-most important ranking factor for the local pack, so you want to get this right.
Select all of the categories that your business can fit under. For example, if you are a dentist, your main category is dentist. But you could also select dental clinic, dental hygienist, cosmetic dentist, pediatric dentist, dental implants, periodontist, etc.
This goes without saying, but only choose the categories that actually pertain to your business. Start with the most specific one for your primary category, and spread out from there. You can have up to 7 categories.
This is more for businesses who travel to their customers, such as home-call doctors, cleaning services, pizza delivery, and the like. Google will ask you to set your service area via post codes or cities. Entering in your address and/or service area will make Google’s local search function much more accurate.
If you have a physical location but your main service happens offsite (such as in your customers’ homes), you can leave the address section blank.
If you have a physical location and you serve customers both onsite and offsite, key in both your address and your service area.
Add Business Opening Hours
Correct hours are extremely important. Prospective customers get frustrated when they call at a time that Google says you are open when you actually aren’t. Or imagine the negative experience of driving up to a business only to find out that it is closed, despite what your hours online say.
Enter the hours that your business is open, and make sure that they match the hours on your website. The idea of a seamless, multi-platform customer experience is what you need to think of here. Consistency with everything your business creates is of the utmost importance.
This probably goes without saying, but make sure that your phone number is correct and that it matches what’s listed on your website. This should be the same as all of your other business profiles like Yelp, Facebook, etc. Consistent name, address and phone number across the internet will help your business rank better in the maps.
If you are a single location business, use the homepage of your website here. If you are a multi-location business, use the location page of your website–because that’s where customers can find the location closest to them.
Make sure to include the complete URL. The easiest way to do this is to navigate to your website and then copy the URL from the top bar of your browser. This will copy over the correct format.
While customers still do make appointments the old school way—via text, call, or email—online bookings are becoming more and more popular. Customers love the ease of being able to book right on your website or the search engine, without having to bring out their phones or open up their emails.
Google My Business has a booking option (more on that later), but if you don’t want to enable it, you can still redirect customers to your own appointment platform. If you have a page where customers can book appointments online, include that here. If not, link the page with your contact form and contact information.
Wouldn’t it be so much better for your customers if they could see all of your services right on Google itself? No more digging through your Facebook posts or website pages just to find the information they need.
If you have simple or flat pricing for services, add those here. You are required to add a price, and prospective customers can see this, so be careful what you put here if your prices vary based on insurance. It is ok to leave these blank by not adding services at all, especially if your prices can vary on a case-to-case basis.
Attributes are certain characteristics of your business that might be useful to your customers. This is fairly self-explanatory, but add all of the applicable attributes that pertain to your business.
Most attributes can be added/edited by you, but others (such as whether your business is popular with locals) are generated automatically based on reviews and user suggestions.
Business attributes will change depending on your business category (yet another reason to choose the right one). Some common attributes include:
- If your business is LGBTQ+ friendly
- If your business is owned, operated, or managed by women
- Different payment times
- Accessibility options
- Wi-Fi availability
Add Business Description
This section deserves the most attention (aside from making sure that all information is accurate). You get 750 characters to describe your business–so make the most of that space and use as much of it as you can.
Include your city and variants of your keyword, but be careful not to overdo it. If you are a dentist in Los Angeles, include a variant that looks something like dental care in LA, or dental services in Los Angeles. Integrate the keyword naturally so that it doesn’t become spammy or unreadable.
Include interesting information about your business history and location. Tell a story, if you can. Also, use this space to include information that your customer might not get from all the other sections, such as your business philosophy, awards, notable partnerships, and more.
There is nothing to fill out in the insights section, but that doesn’t mean you should skip over it.
It will give you some great information about how people are interacting with your Google My Business page online. You can find out how many people found you in search, how many people asked for directions, how many people went to your website and how many people called you using the search.
When you understand your customers’ behavior, you’ll be in a much better position to create satisfactory customer experiences. Use the insights in this section to inform your marketing decisions and improve your strategies going forward.
The reviews section is where you will respond to and manage reviews about your business. As we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s one of the most important sections for your optimizing your local search and improving your online visibility.
We won’t go into detail about reviews now, but we will tackle this more in-depth below. But just know that this is where you would do that. There is nothing that you need to fill out here.
There is no such thing as too many communication channels. The more channels you open up for your customers to reach you, the better their experience.
You have the option to set up messaging so that people can chat with your business. You can read and respond to messages right from your Google My Business dashboard.
If you choose to do this, be sure that you have someone on the other end of the chat as often as possible. These are typically people who want to get in soon–so if your business has the capacity, this is always a good idea. Check in at least once or twice a day, and don’t leave any messages unanswered!
Because people are primarily visual beings, photos can make a huge impact on your ranking in maps. Be sure not to skip over this part, even if it requires a little more effort!
First things first: when it comes to photos, make sure every single photo is unique to your business. Don’t use stock photos in your Google My Business.
Your photos need to be professional and well-done. You don’t need to hire a photographer (although that would help!) just to get great-looking photos. Even an iPhone, good lighting, and basic knowledge of composition/framing can result in some amazing pictures for your profile.
Also make sure that you OWN the photos that you upload. Uploading a photo taken by someone else, without their permission, is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
There are different sections that your photos fall under. Here is a snapshot of what those look like:
Add Photos in Google My Business
Add photos under every section except for “By Owner”; “By Owner” will automatically populate with anything that you upload.
360 photos are all-angle shots that give your customers a literal 360-degree view of your business. To upload them from any smartphone, just download the Google Street View app, and upload photos according to the instructions in the app. Do this in a few locations around the building and even inside the building.
Interior, exterior, at work and team are fairly self-explanatory. Make sure that you are uploading the correct photos to each section.
If you take 4-6 photographs per section you’ll be in the right range for the number of photos. Aim for a total of 20-30 photos of your business to start with, and 1-2 new pictures per week to keep your content fresh.
Accepting bookings through call, text, or email are ESSENTIAL, but you can step it up a notch by using an automatic booking software.
If you have a booking software, connect it here. That will allow customers to book directly from your Google My Business knowledge panel or from your map listing. The software automatically collates your customers’ appointment requests and schedules them accordingly—saving you a lot of time.
Here is what this looks like:
Booking button example in GMB
If you are not using a booking software, you will typically see an image of a phone to click on that gives the viewer the option to call. Decide for your business which route is best, or test both and see which works best for your goals.
You should have your own website, but you can supplement that with a Google site. Google sites are easily created through Google’s website building platform, and you can use them for a variety of purposes such as landing pages or internal communication hubs.
While you should definitely maximize Google’s tools and create a Google site, do not select this as your primary website. Think of this website as a longer version of the business description that you filled in earlier, or as an “about page” on your website.
One way to make use of a Google site is to link to all of your social media profiles and review sites so that Google associates those listings together. Think Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook, Twitter, etc… A properly structured Google Site can add a lot of value to your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business Posts
Now that your Google My Business page is set up, you can keep the content fresh by using the post feature. You can use the post to feature reviews, services or community events.
Think of Google posts as you would your tweets, Facebook or Instagram posts, and the like. This is your opportunity to update your customers on important announcements or other things they might want to know—all from the search engine results page.
Most businesses use Google My Business posts to announce special sales, discounts, or promotions. You can also use it to feature a high-performing team member, let customers know about changes to the company that might affect them, or share value-adding articles from your blog.
No matter what you post, always keep it light, positive, and professional.
Successful Reputation Management
Although it would be awesome to never have to worry about what customers are finding online, there is a lot of truth to the idea that you can’t make everyone happy.
There is no getting around the fact that you might have a dissatisfied customer. Even the best businesses have an off day, or they just simply don’t match a customer’s expectations.
Bad reviews will likely find their way into your reputation. It’s an inescapable fact of doing business in the modern world. Sometimes these are warranted, like when you make a mistake or the quality of your product isn’t what they expected.
Other times they might be completely unfounded. These could include reviews that were for another business but were accidentally left on your profile, fake reviews from people who have never purchased from your business, or reviews that are just meant to harm and ruin your reputation.
This does not change the fact that the bad reviews are going to be showing up on your Google profile.
These situations will call for reputation management services. Reputation management has everything to do with helping customers find the right reviews in the right places when they are looking for your business. It also helps you gain more control over how the public perceives your brand.
Google is definitely one of the places that you want to have good reviews displaying about your business. If you find yourself retaining someone to help with reputation management, getting good reviews on Google can give you a big head start in the process.
Should You Incentivize Customers To Write Reviews?
Has a business ever offered you a free item or a discount code in exchange for a review? You might have thought to yourself, “This is a great idea! I should do it, too.” After all, it makes sense that more people would be willing to leave you a review if you offered something in return.
But you should think twice about incentivizing customer reviews.
Offering incentives for reviews is unethical and is against the terms of service of basically every review platform available. A reward could be seen as a “bribe” that could influence your customers’ review. This calls into question the honesty and integrity not just of your reviews, but of your company as a whole.
ASKING happy customers to leave a review is certainly not unethical.
What’s more, 89% of consumers are willing to leave reviews but only 7% have reported being asked to do so. (16)
So don’t be shy! Ask your customers to leave a review and make that process an easy one.
While offering an incentive might increase your success in getting reviews from clients, apart from being unethical, it can also come back to bite you. Take this review for example:
It can be tempting to incentivize good reviews, especially when your competitors are doing it, but abiding by Google’s terms of service is definitely a better route in the long run. You create a more sustainable strategy for collecting reviews and avoid costly penalties.
Is Removing A Google Review Possible?
At Weave, our review software is exceptional at helping people gather positive reviews from happy customers. However, there is a high likelihood that not all of your reviews will be positive. If you are a business owner, you’ve probably seen a negative review come across for your business at least once. The review could be the result of a misunderstanding with a customer, in which case, you should try to rectify the misunderstanding and have them remove the negative review. Sometimes they are not willing to remove the review. In that situation, all you can do is try to bury the negative review with good reviews.
There is another common source of negative reviews that you can’t do anything to rectify. Those reviews are what we will discuss in this article. Those negative reviews come from competitors who are envious of the rankings and reputation that you have been able to accomplish. So in an effort to tarnish your reputation, some competitors post negative reviews about your business. It’s in these scenarios that you’ll need a strategy for deleting Google Reviews.
Before we get too far into this topic, you should know that this is not always guaranteed to work. However, it has worked on a number of occasions, so it’s worth a try in having a Google Review deleted.
Step 1: Locate the Review on Google
Log into your Google account and locate the review you are trying to remove. You can do that by searching for the business name in Google and clicking on the flag next to the review. Like this:
Step 2: Flag the Review
Locate the review that was left by your competitor and click the flag. To get the flag to show up, you will need to be hovering over the review.
Step 3: Select Your Reason for Flagging the Review
When you click the flag you will see these options:
Click the circle that indicates that the post is a conflict of interest. Take a screenshot of your form filled out and save the screenshot with the date.
This is typically the point where people stop the process, but it is not where you should stop if you actually want the review removed.
Step 4: Navigate to the Spam & Policy Forum
After a week or so has gone by, check whether the review was removed. If it hasn’t been, click here to go to the Google My Business community. You will see a page that looks like this:
Click Spam & Policy and you will be taken to a page that looks like this:
Step 5: Submit Your Case
Click the plus in the lower right hand corner to start your post in the forum. You need to be as persuasive as possible about the fact that this review was not from a real customer. Explain how you know that it is a competitor, attach the image showing that you flagged the review first, then submit your post. The more descriptive you are and the more details you have to back up your position, the more likely you will be successful in getting the negative review deleted.
Things to document when requesting that a review be deleted by Google
Review history on the account leaving the review
Document where reviews have been left historically. Have they left any other reviews? Are they for other businesses like yours? Are they negative? Are they in your town?
Search in your customer database
If you can show a screenshot of a search in your customer database for the name of the reviewer, that is a powerful display for the person looking into your case.
The inconsistency of negative reviews
If your business has had all five-star reviews for years, and then gets several negative reviews, you can point out the fact that this is historically inconsistent. If you can pinpoint consistencies in the review histories of the reviewing accounts, that is even more convincing. For example, if you have had nothing but five-star reviews for several years and you get a few one-star reviews in a short time frame, and you can show that a few of those one-star reviewing accounts have overlapping negative reviews, it is very likely that you can get those reviews removed.
Document anything else that leads you to believe that this is not a legitimate review and include that in your write up. This forum is typically very quick to respond, so you should know within the day whether your report will be escalated.
Responding to Reviews
One of the most useful skills you can pick up from this guide is how to properly respond to Google reviews. We’ll split this section into both “positive” and “negative” reviews, and how you need to go about replying to them.
But first, we’ll go into some standard best practices no matter what kind of review you are responding to.
- Yes, people can see your replies. Under the “Response from the owner” tab, your replies will be viewable by the public. That’s why it’s important to maintain a level of politeness and professionalism, no matter who you’re dealing with.
- Always respond in a timely manner. Most people expect a reply to their review within 7 days, but a turnaround time of 24 hours or less is always best. Not replying equates to ignoring a customer, and nobody likes to be ignored.
- That being said, you do not have to reply to every single review. Focus on the ones where you can add value to that particular customer and to your customer base at large.
- As much as possible, keep your replies short. Sometimes, though, the situation will call for a longer response. Use your discernment to determine whether a response requires additional follow-up via direct message, an email, or a phone call. Move your correspondence to another platform more suitable for long-form communication if necessary.
- Whether the review is positive or negative, show gratitude to the review for taking the time to leave their honest feedback. You can say something like “thank you for your review!” or “we appreciate you bringing this to our attention”, depending on the situation.
- The goal is to create a community feel, so canned or automatic responses aren’t ideal. Your messages can follow a template to save you some time, but try to make them sound as authentic or human as possible.
- Use your real name when dealing with customers. Don’t hide behind the brand. It creates a higher sense of transparency and accountability with your customers. Plus, it will make your responses feel less robotic as well.
Be patient as reviews come in, and don’t be tempted by people offering reviews for pay. This is unethical and often times, these reviews won’t have the impact that you would hope for a variety of reasons.
Yes, a lot of reviews is nice, but gaining true popularity on your listing is what will ultimately drive it up in the rankings. The more clicks on your listing or website from a search result tells Google that your business is relevant to that search and will drive the placement of your listing.
We could go on, but that’s another article for another day. Just promise us you won’t pay for Google reviews or ask anyone who is not a customer to leave a review.
Note that once a customer has submitted a review, it can take anywhere from three to seven days for it to actually post.
To read and reply to reviews, sign in to Google My Business and click “Reviews” from the menu. When you’re on a specific review you’d like to manage, select the “About” tab. You’ll be able to either respond to the review, flag it, or share it.
Remember that your business needs to be verified first before you can start reading and responding to your Google reviews.
Congratulations! You got a positive review. What do you do now?
Many businesses make the common mistake of ignoring positive reviews. After all, they’re happy…why do you need to reply?
But it’s very important to build relationships with your customers ESPECIALLY when they’re satisfied. This inspires loyalty and makes them more likely to continue doing business with you.
Make it clear how much you appreciate their positive feedback. You can also use this space to add value by recommending other services or informing them of changes and promotions. But be careful about “over-selling” at this point.
We can’t stress this enough: bad reviews are a fact of life. Instead of dwelling on the negativity of it, use it to gain insight into your customers and help you improve the customer experience.
Here are some tried-and-true damage control tips for handling a bad review.
- Do not take it personally. The customer had a bad experience, but that doesn’t mean that you are a bad business. Do not narrow your focus to one or two bad reviews, especially when you have tons of positive reviews.
- Always meet negativity with positivity. Remember that your response can be seen by others and could provide clarification to other customers. Being defensive doesn’t change minds or encourage them to edit their review. It only furthers a negative impression of you.
- Be proactive. Reach out to customers who have left negative reviews and try to resolve their issues. Actually investigate and validate their claims.
- Apologize for your mistakes but do not take responsibility for things out of your control. If it’s something you CAN fix, provide the real concrete steps you are taking to fix it in the present and prevent it from happening again in the future.
Using Weave to Get More Google My Business Reviews
Interestingly (but not surprisingly), a well-established Weave dental office in Oklahoma City was able to increase their new patient flow by 324% from May of 2017 to now. This office was seeing around 17 new patients a month consistently for several years, and with less than 10 online reviews at the time saw a plateau in their active patient base. Then they signed up for Weave and activated Auto-Text Reviews–they are now seeing 76 new patients a month and have over 200 online reviews.
Rika Markel, of West Side Family Dental Group said, “Weave has made all the difference in our dental practices. Easy to use for recalls, confirmations, etc. But most importantly, the review feature helped us to get on the first page of Google.”
Did you read that? She said the first page of Google.
You’ve got the magic laid out for you: How to write a review, how to respond to and manage reviews, the ethics that play into the process and how to make sure your company is perfectly poised for a positive online reputation.
Now is the time to get more reviews: get more reviews with Weave.