Why are Online Reviews Important?
Getting reviews is vital to the popularity and success of any brand. In the past, local shops and businesses could rely on foot traffic and word of mouth to grow their brand. Today, however, most consumers begin their research for products and what companies they buy from online.
When making a purchase or choosing to use a company’s services, many factors can influence a buyer’s decision to shop with you, but few are more influential than reviews. Reviews from actual customers not only build trust and loyalty but also provide credibility. Based on consumer data, 90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business and 88% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a family member or friend.
Now that we’ve established that reviews are essential, why are Google reviews more important than others? According to reviewtrackers’ customer review data, Google sees more reviews than other platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even Facebook.
Getting your reviews on the largest search engine in the world allows for more eyes on your reviews and your Google My Business listing, helping your business with local and online traffic. If you didn’t think reviews or Google reviews were important before, now you do! Below you’ll find our best practices for getting your company more online reviews.
10 Ways to Increase Your Google Reviews
1. Make Sure You’ve Claimed Your Google My Business
If you haven’t already claimed your business, it’s a pretty easy task. A Google My Business profile is FREE and allows you total control over your business listing showing up on Google searches. Having a claimed Google My Business listing will enable you to update necessary business information like your address, business hours, your location on Google Maps, and even photos of your business. Google My Business also drives customer engagement on Google and can help your website’s SEO and search rankings. Furthermore, your profile information tells users that this is your official business profile and makes it easier and more likely that they’ll leave you reviews.
If you haven’t signed up for your Google My Business, follow these few easy steps or visit Google My Business Help. To sign up your business on Google, sign in to your Google account or create one. Enter your business’s domain, eg: Evolve-systems.com. You’ll choose how your business will be displayed on Google Maps and search, choose a business category, and enter your company’s phone number.
2. Add a Review Link to Your Website and Social Media Profiles.
One easy way to get more Google reviews is to add a review link to your website or social media profiles. Having a link going directly to your Google My Business reduces the number of people getting lost or sidetracked. It also helps with user experience because it makes leaving a review that much easier for customers. To create a short URL review for customers, visit Google My Business Support for a short video to walk you through creating the URL.
Another thing you can do is share your positive reviews on your social media channels. This can help maximize your reach to your target audience and provide proof of your customer success through other channels for customers who might not find you through a Google search.
3. Send Email Reminders and Use Your Newsletters
One of the most effective tools is using your email blasts when it comes to creating reviews for your business. The goal is to keep your messaging authentic to who you are as a company. Use the link created in Step 2 above to save your subscribers time. We also recommend creating a new message each month when asking for reviews. Your message can be short and straightforward but should be different. Using the same call to action might show your subscribers that you’re not willing to take the time to create something new for them, so why should they take the time to leave you a review?
4. Upload High-Quality Images and Videos
Adding images to your Google My Business allows customers to get a feel for what your business is like. From product photos to your business’s interior and exterior photos, images will make customers feel invited and make them want to visit your business. High-quality photos also help your business stand out from your competitors. Customers want to know your business is real and has a physical location. Giving customers a better experience and fewer surprises can lead to more reviews.
5. Update Your Holidays and Hours of Operation
COVID-19 has put a strain on many businesses, and hours of operation have changed with each wave of business reopenings. One way to avoid negative reviews is to stay up to date on when your location is open. Make sure to adjust hours frequently to account for holidays, closures, and COVID-19 changes.
6. You Don’t Need a Perfect Rating
Not having a perfect customer rating isn’t going to kill your reputation. In fact, it might even help your business. Having only 5-star reviews can seem fishy to potential customers and feel staged. Having some less perfect reviews will allow your business to provide positive customer service and appear more humanized by responding to your customer reviews. That can often be better than only 5-star reviews.
7. Respond to Your Reviews
As a recommendation, regardless of whether you received a useful review or a bad review, it’s always important to respond to your Google reviews. Replying to a positive review can be simple, “ Thank you for your review” is a great way to let the reviewers know you’ve seen their positive review and have acknowledged them. Negative reviews can be a bit trickier on how you should respond. Be careful when responding but always look at the review as an opportunity to learn and grow your business. Make sure to address the issue the reviewer has left, apologize for the issue or event, and attempt to resolve the issue with them.
By offering to help a customer might make things right, it could have a real positive impact on that customer; enough to make them change their negative review. Any potential customer who the negative review might have turned off now sees that your company is willing to make changes to help customers if there is an issue. Customer service goes a long way in building customer loyalty. Responding to reviews is a significant first step in building that trust!
8. Google Reviews Improve Your Local Search Ranking
Ok, here’s where my SEO insights start to show. If you’re looking to help improve your search rankings, reviews and responding to reviews can get you there. Google determines where your site ranks on many different factors. Google’s search algorithms will review and evaluate your business information on Google My Business (GMB) to find out what your business does. It also uses keywords within your GMB to help with search results. But Google depends on signals within the algorithm and data gathered to determine whether a site is worth a great ranking spot. Google sees reviews as an endorsement or a vote of trust, and rewards you with better rankings.
9. Customers Look at the Most Recent Reviews First
If your site only has five reviews and they’re all a year or older, chances are viewers will read them no matter the age. However, if you have 100 reviews, they might skim through the latest reviews from the last several months. Why? Depending on the type of business you have, the kind of products, services, or even customer service might change with the season.
For example during COVID-19, recent reviews will demonstrate how your business is performing as the world fluctuates such as the shipping speeds, product availability, or available customer service.
On a grander scale, Google also weighs how recent your reviews are and uses that as part of their local search algorithm’s ranking factor, which leads to tip number ten.
10. Ask for Reviews
Asking for a review seems simple, but honestly, it’s not something most businesses think of or want to do. As mentioned above, having a Google review link will help get more reviews, but asking for a review and giving a customer that link brings them one step closer to your next review. When asking for a Google review, a best practice is don’t just ask your customer for a review; encourage them to give their honest feedback. Ask them to be specific about what they liked about their experience. You should also explain to the customer that their review helps your company improve its customer service and determine what products or services can help their future customer experience.
If it’s an email or handing a customer a business card, if possible, make sure you provide a link to your Google My Business. It’s always easier to start with customers who have had a great experience with your company, and as some reviews start rolling in start expanding by asking for reviews to a broader range of your customers. Provide that personalized touch when possible in an email or with a handshake (*covid elbow tap), and you’ll be surprised at how many customers start leaving reviews!
These best practices above will help your company receive more Google reviews. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but getting the results you’re looking for does take time, so be patient. Use your customer service and the feedback you receive to improve your business, go above and beyond when possible to help make your brand stand out among your competition. To learn more about Google My Business or for help with your company’s marketing presence, contact Evolve Systems. Let’s build something together today!