As a webmaster or online web marketer, it’s very important to know why Google reviews matter and how to get more. Google reviews help potential customers choose your business & build trust. Managing your online reputation includes gathering lots of positive reviews from your best customers — on all common industry-specific sites.
It also includes managing negative reviews, keeping customers coming back, and turning your detractors into your biggest promoters. And one great way to manage, analyze, monitor, and improve those reviews is by using a tool such as Google My Business for beginners. And it’s all very simple and easy to get started. So, what is Google My Business, and its benefits?
Well, Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. If you verify and edit your business information, you can help customers find your business and tell them your story. In short, Google My Business (GMB) is a free business directory tool for webmasters.
And, as a web-based business owner, this is a free platform that you definitely need. Especially, for getting your business to show up in searches for local customers who are trying to find you. Whether you’re an individual agency, broker, or parent company with several locations, you need to be listed on Google My Business to attract new customers.
So, you’ve got your business up and running, right? And now, you’d like to start creating your Google My Business (GMB) listing, right? Unfortunately, you just don’t have the time to sit down and figure out exactly what you need to include in your business listing. Well, this guideline is all about connecting your business with your customers.
What Are Google Reviews?
Basically, Google Reviews are what provides you, your customers, and the search engine bots with all valuable information about your business. Business reviews appear next to your Business Profile in Maps and Search, and this helps your business stand out on Google.
In other words, Google Reviews allow any good business to prove themselves to their potential customers. People are able to go online and list their thoughts about the company without having to download an app. The reviews level the playing field where marketing hype, expensive campaigns, and slick copy become less relevant.
Of course, those same campaigns and a slick copy can certainly have a huge impact. However, they at times become less relevant in the context of Google business reviews. But, why? Simply, because reviews serve as transparency and social proof rather than beautiful marketing.
All in all, any searcher can type in a search query and stumble upon businesses with reviews from actual customers and make an informed decision. More so, on whether or not they should engage with that business — with positive reviews pushing them towards conversion.
How To Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Hopefully, by now you realize the importance of collecting more Google reviews, but you might be wondering how to get started. Whether it’s a DIY journey, or you’re working with a local SEO company, the first step in local SEO is to claim and verify your GMB listing.
Having an optimized GMB can help you improve the chances of your local business showing up in Google’s Local Map Pack, Google Maps, and the organic rankings as well. In reality, GMB gives business owners more control over how their business appears to customers searching online.
Google My Business lets business owners speak directly to potential customers before ever having an actual conversation with them. Every day, millions of people search on Google for businesses like yours. Having a website on the first page of Google for multiple cities has its obvious benefits.
Ranking on page 1 makes it possible for business owners to target a larger audience. As well as gain more traffic to their website, improve sales, and add more revenue to their bottom line. In that case, make your Business Profile stand out and turn those searches into your customers with the Google My Business app (download on Google Play).
Why Are Google Reviews Important?
Content is king and your business’ online reviews matter. Now more than ever, it’s important for businesses to get Google reviews. That’s because customers want detailed first-hand information from their online peers — whom they trust. In order to help them make decisions and become informed about the customer experience.
The many benefits of getting Google reviews include Google ranking for local SEO, leveling the playing field, increasing your online reputation, and helping mom and pop operations. Below are more reasons why Google reviews are so important:
They improve local search ranking
One of the biggest benefits online reviews bring to your business is a boost in local search ranking. Knowing how to improve local SEO is important because if customers can’t even find your business when they’re actively searching, how can they possibly make a purchase from you?
Having Google reviews helps with rankings and revenue. Online reviews on your Google Maps listing help your business stand out from the crowd. That’s how you make an impact. More importantly, it means your business is highlighting the fact that you offer great service or product, and that customers love you.
They increase trust and credibility
This might sound strange, but a vast majority of 18-34-year-olds (91% to be exact) trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. That is, they do as long as the reviews meet certain criteria. Like (1) authenticity, (2) being in the right industry, and (3) having multiple reviews on the same site.
Because Google is one of the most used and trusted search engines, people are willing to give that same trust and credibility to Google reviews that they give to reviews from trusted peers.
They influence purchase decisions
Online Google reviews can be just what a consumer needs to push them from consideration to purchase. A lot of times when consumers are reading them, they are looking for confirmation that they are making the right decision.
Positive online reviews can give just the validation consumers are looking for when making a choice. However, the opposite can also be true. If your business has a low star rating or a lot of recent negative Google reviews, customers could be pushed toward the competition instead.
The Advantages of Google Reviews
Google reviews should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. They help increase your visibility, build trust and credibility with consumers, and push consumers through every stage of the buyer’s journey.
If your business is taking proactive steps to secure reviews, it should see an increase in both website and physical location traffic. And as you can tell, Google reviews are also important since they can really help you rank. For one thing, they can give businesses a big credibility boost without having to spend a dime.
Another great advantage of reviews is that they provide the opportunity for a business to level the playing field in regard to local SEO. Big or small, the business that takes advantage of Google reviews is in a position to rank higher in local search results.
If Google thinks that the local shop selling running shoes provide a better experience than your average retail giant, that local shop can end up higher in the local search rankings. That same example goes for the retail giant.
More advantages include:
They increase brand trust. Consumers crave transparency and read fellow customer reviews in order to get it.
They expand your online exposure and local SEO. Since Google’s algorithm is driven by successful marketing tactics, businesses with multiple reviews show up first in local searches.
They help you gain a successful feedback loop and pertinent customer intelligence. Each Google review will tell you what you’re doing wrong, how you can improve, and what your customers expect.
They improve click-through rates. It’s vital to get customers to click on your link and a good collection of positive reviews entices people to do just that.
They convert more customers. Obviously, a customer is more likely to make a purchase if they find themselves on your site. So, advertising your Google rating on your site will often seal the deal.
What I’m getting at is that on Google, positive reviews have unprecedented power. A power to influence brand trust, local SEO, and feedback. That said, you can also consider looking at the top 5 benefits of online reviews in detail.
So, do Google Reviews help with rankings? Of course, Yes! Google reviews can really help with rankings because they give businesses a big credibility boost.
They do so by:
- Influencing brand trust
- Increasing online exposure
- Driving local SEO
- Providing essential feedback
- Improving click-through rates
- Converting more customers
The bottom line is, utilizing online reviews is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business. Customers leave Google reviews because they want to express the emotional experience they had with you. Other reasons are to express appreciation, to help the business grow, or to help other customers make informed decisions.
How To Get More Google Reviews
As I elaborated above, the first thing you need to do is claim your Google business listing if you have not done that yet. Bearing in mind, this will allow you to update it with correct information and make it stand out from the competition. The next step is to make your listing look good and stand out.
Google AdWords is also a very effective marketing strategy. That, unfortunately, isn’t often used to its full potential. You can consider the importance of Google reviews in AdWord campaigns as explained in detail. Whereby, the ads that have a lot of great reviews get the leads above the ads that don’t.
The more reviews you get, the more conversions you have, which turn into more reviews and more sales. It’s a beautiful cycle that works. To get Google Knowledge Panel to work for you, you must claim your business, build your online presence, and optimize your listings.
Once you have the ability to update your listing, you should put in the effort to make sure it’s attractive and filled with relevant information that will entice searchers to click on your listing. Since Google reviews help to make your listing stand out and bring real customer feelings to the forefront. At the very minimum you should:
Add relevant information about your business
When you fill out your business description, it should include all the information about your business that customers might find relevant. You can include keywords, but make sure you don’t use this field as an opportunity to stuff keywords. Oftentimes, Google views this as spam, and your local search ranking could suffer as a result.
Include up-to-date hours of operations
One piece of information customers are looking for when they Google your business is whether or not you are currently open. Because of this, you should take the time to update your hours of operation whenever a change occurs. It is also important to include any variations, for example, if you have special holiday hours.
Upload high-resolution photos
One thing many businesses neglect to do is upload enough photos to make their listing stand out among the competition. Pictures on your Google My Business listing help tell a visual story about what it’s like to do business with you and will help you garner more interactions with online searchers as well. Google has found that listings that feature photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions from Google Maps. And 35% more clicks through to a business’ website.
Once your business listing is claimed and you’ve taken the time to optimize it, now it’s time to start collecting Google reviews. Now that you don’t have to just wait around for them to flow in. You should make a proactive effort to ask all of your customers to write a Google review of your business.
Consider Online Review Management Platforms
The best online reputation management software allows companies to monitor users’ online reviews and promote positive experiences through online review platforms. The products provide platforms that marketing teams use to aggregate and interpret their company’s online reputation.
Do you know that 77% of consumers say they are willing to leave a business review, but only 10% of consumers actually do nearly all the time? One of the main reasons for this is that customers want to leave a review, but the process can be difficult and cumbersome.
They don’t know where to leave a review or there are too many steps to take, and they ultimately bail. On the other hand, as many as 76% of consumers will leave a review after being asked to do so. To make it easier for your customers, you need to make the process as frictionless as possible.
In fact, recent research found that “3.3 is the minimum star rating of business consumers would consider engaging with.” Be that as it may, great success can be accomplished by implementing an online review management platform that works best such as Podium.
With such platforms, you can streamline the invitation process. You’ll even make it ridiculously easy for your employees to invite customers and for your customers to leave reviews. A good online review management platform utilizes text messages as the primary channel for invitations.
Doing this results in a significantly higher response rate. It also enables you to collect more Google reviews than traditional email-based platforms. However, these products differ from social media monitoring software. In that, they aim to collect online reviews but can include social media features.
There is confusion, but little crossover with product review software too. Those tools host customer reviews on e-commerce sites and provide little monitoring or management capabilities. To qualify for inclusion in the online reputation management category, a product must meet certain criteria below.
Consider the following:
- Monitor online review sites for new and existing negative reviews
- Have a management platform to aggregate and interpret online reviews
- Create alerts and reports regarding a brand’s current online reputation
- Provide forms or a vehicle to garner new online reviews
Knowing how to leave a Google review is as simple as it is important. After you search and find a local business, scroll down and click ‘Write a Review.’ Select a certain number of stars and write out the details of your experience with the business. Click ‘Post.’
According to Google, you can request reviews from customers through a short URL that’s specific to your business. To get reviews on Google, encourage your customers to spread the word about your business with the best practices.
Consider the following:
- Verify your business so your information is eligible to appear on Maps, Search, and other Google services. Only verified businesses can respond to reviews.
- Remind customers to leave reviews. Let them know that it’s quick and easy to leave business reviews on their mobile device or computer. You can also create and share a link that customers can click to leave a review.
- Reply to reviews to build your customers’ trust. Your customers will notice that your business values their input. If you read and reply to their reviews, customers may leave more reviews in the future.
Reviews are most valuable when they’re honest and unbiased. For example, business owners shouldn’t offer incentives to customers in exchange for reviews. Customers should always follow Google posting guidelines. You can also request to remove a review if it’s inappropriate or violates Google policies.
How to Delete a Google Review
There may be a time or two when someone leaves your business a particularly nasty (or even a fake) review and it’s worth it to know what you can do in that circumstance.
Typically, you don’t want to delete negative reviews. Because that makes it look like you have something to cover up. However, there are a few things you can do. First, you can respond to the negative review. Second, you can flag the review as fake, inappropriate, or promoting a competitor. It will then be reviewed by Google for removal.
Third, you can report the negative review to Google Small Business Support. Afterward, they’ll make a decision about removing it. Ultimately, having a few bad reviews mixed in with all the good reviews isn’t the end of the world. As a matter of fact, it shows that you are a real business with real customers.
So, in nutshell, implementing an online review management platform is a good place to start. But, if you really want to see the online reviews roll in you should consider this;
Determine the right timing of the invitation
In my experience, the best time to ask for a review is when there’s some downtime in the sales process. For example, in the auto industry, a good time might be after the sale is completed and the customer is waiting in finance. Your customer is just sitting there anyway, so why not ask them to leave a review and walk them through the process?
Set the expectation for the review
After you’ve determined the right time to invite the customer, now you can start setting expectations for what you want them to do. When setting expectations, you should let the customer know a few things. Such as why online reviews are important for your business, how they will be receiving the invite (text or email), or when they will be receiving the invite, etc.
Eliminate all the unnecessary barriers
The harder it is for customers to leave reviews, the less likely they will leave one. That’s why you need to make it as easy as possible, and if you’ve implemented an online review management platform as mentioned previously, you’re headed in the right direction. Also, make sure to use these Google Maps marketing tips in detail.
Using a web platform such as Podium, you can very easily manage your online reputation. It allows you to improve your ratings, build your reputation, and get found online. By sending recent customers review requests through text. As well as responding to and interacting with reviewers, and managing it all from a single inbox.
You’ll also be able to communicate efficiently with customers and leads. Reach your customers wherever they are with text messaging. Request reviews, connect with website visitors, collect payments, and market to customers and leads all from your Podium app. In that case, feel free to watch the demo and gather more details.
Companies hoping to promote their brand through positive online user reviews will use online reputation management software to capture negative experiences. The products also provide mechanisms for users to submit new reviews through email or advertising campaigns.
These products also provide platforms that marketing teams use to aggregate and interpret their company’s online reputation. Teams will often utilize digital forms provided by the platform to conduct email campaigns and harness new reviews. Many products also have monitoring tools to discover talks and posts from social media users.
Having said that, what is your driving force in engaging your online lead customers? Have you listed your details on Google My Business yet? Overall, what is your experience? Feel free to share your opinion thoughts, suggestions, contributions, or even questions in our comments section below.
Furthermore, if you have not tried GMB yet, I am sure that the above guide will be of great help. But, you’ll need more support, you can also Contact Us and let us know how we can help you. Our lead SEO webmasters will get your web business reputation and ranking ahead in no time.