Did you know that 90% of customers read your reviews before visiting your business?
Additionally, 85% of customers don’t trust reviews that are more than three months old and 40% of people only look at reviews from the past two weeks.
It almost goes without saying that having a thoughtful strategy to boost your Google My Business reviews is integral to your brand reputation, the growth of your company and for your website’s ranking.
At Digital Shift, we understand it can feel overwhelming to create a strategy that not only gives your business more reviews, but more positive reviews. That’s why we put together this blog post, so you can learn how to grow your Google My Business reviews—while growing your business as well.
Google My Business reviews have the power to impact your business on multiple levels. Before we dive into how to increase reviews through implementing a thoughtful strategy, it’s important to understand why you need a strategy in the first place.
We already know that the vast majority of prospects are reading your reviews before visiting your business. But why are Google My Business reviews so powerful?
Reviews act as social proof, meaning that people are more likely to trust the experiences of others who have already used your service. The more favourable, recent, in-depth and plentiful your reviews are, the more trust you build with potential clients. The more credibility you create with prospects, the more clicks your website will receive.
Not only are Google My Business reviews integral to converting more leads into customers, but the quality and quantity of reviews on Google is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO— in fact, customer reviews impact 9% of Google’s search algorithm.
Online customer reviews signal to search engines that your company is trustworthy—which is important to search engines and consumers alike. After all, Google's purpose is to answer queries as accurately as possible. It follows that the more trusted your site is, the more likely the search engine will rank it as useful to consumers.
Additionally, your business is more likely to be noticed by Google if you have higher quantity, quality, and diversity of reviews.
There are a couple review-garnering tactics that go against Google’s terms of service and that should be avoided at all costs—if you breach the terms of service, it will irreparably harm your website’s ranking.
Google states directly on its Google My Business review guidelines: “Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. (For example, business owners shouldn't offer incentives to customers in exchange for reviews.)”
Paying for reviews or offering incentives like discounts for your services skews the validity of your reviews. If Google finds out what you’ve done, your business will be deemed as less trustworthy and your ranking will be negatively impacted.
Review-Gating is when a business “cherry picks” customers to provide Google My Business reviews. It works in two steps. First, a business will send customers a feedback form—via email, text, landing page or social media. Then customers are either asked to post their review on Google (if the review was positive) or to share their feedback privately (if the review was negative).
While this practice was often used by businesses in the past, it goes against Google’s updated guidelines. Once again, a lack of transparency can cause negative impacts on your business’ rankings should Google find out you’re review-gating.
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, let’s move-on to our strategies for increasing your Google My Business reviews.
The most organic way to get positive Google My Business reviews is through providing truly excellent customer service. Through consistent service that puts your customers at the centre of your business, your clients will feel more compelled to leave your business a genuine, positive review.
Asking customers directly for a review may seem intimidating. But if you’ve provided outstanding customer service, it’s almost a no-brainer to follow-up with that service by requesting a review.
Also, asking your client to give your company a review right before the end of your interaction is helpful for the customer—their thoughts about your service will be fresh in their mind.
One of the easiest ways for customers to leave a review for your business is by having a direct link on your website. Once a client clicks on this link, a pop-up will appear where they can type their review directly. Once finished, the review will automatically be posted to Google.
Follow the steps below to add a Google My Business review link to your website:
While onboarding new clients, do you ask them for their email? If not, you should. An email is the perfect opportunity to:
When asking for a review from a client over email, keep the following tips in mind:
Just because your customer did not leave a review after your first request does not mean they won’t after your second—or even third—email.
It’s entirely possible your client was busy or distracted when they received your first email and completely forgot to leave you a review. Alternatively, maybe your initial request was lost in a busy inbox. Either way, sending follow-up emails keeps your business top-of-mind for your customers.
We recommend sending two follow-up emails, each a week apart. After the second email, it’s unlikely your customer will leave you a review and it’s wise not to follow up again—as this may become annoying for you customer.
Another place you can add a link to your Google My Business reviews is in your newsletter. But what’s the difference between asking for a review in a follow-up email and in a newsletter?
In the latter, your review request becomes part of the content mix in your newsletter. While you’re sharing exciting company updates, new promotions and industry insights with your clients, you can also add a line about leaving a review. Be sure to use the Google reviews link.
Did you know that your Facebook recommendations are linked to your Google reviews? The key is ensuring your business details match identically on both Facebook and Google My Business. Once this is done, Google’s algorithm will automatically link reviews on both sites.
This way, part of your social media strategy on Facebook can be to push reviews and these reviews will populate on Google as well.
A leave behind is a term for materials you either physically “leave behind” for a customer, or that you email a customer after completing a service. This tactic works particularly well for home service industries, as these businesses often engage with customers in their homes or offices.
When putting together your leave behind—whether a physical folder or PDF—be sure to include:
There are a multitude of review generation tools at your disposal. These online tools automate the process of asking for and posting reviews—saving you time and enabling your business to have a bigger reach. The more clients you reach out to for a review, the higher chance you'll get more reviews.
We’ve rounded up five excellent review generation tools for you to take a look at below:
Offering a free 14-day trial, NiceJob focuses on building reviews for service professionals on both Google My Business and Facebook. The program uses AI technology to prompt customers who haven’t reviewed yet. Also, it simplifies the review process so it only takes customers 30 seconds.
Focused on service industries, ReviewBuzz not only includes user-friendly review management in one place, but also offers analytics where you can review your KPIs. Additionally, once you choose and prioritize the review sites you want customers using—such as Google My Business—ReviewBuzz directs customers to the site that works for them.
Broadly makes the review process easy for customers by offering a one-click email and text reviews. Additionally, this platform’s greatest benefit is that it includes a multi-location dashboard. This function is ideal for franchises to monitor team performance and respond to reviews in one place.
This platform primarily works with home service professionals and small businesses. It uses check-ins after your business serves a customer to sum-up the job and also requests a review. These check-ins also help boost your SEO ranking. This program also offers a wide range of integrations, from your Google My Business account to your website.
This platform specifically caters to home service professionals. PulseM first builds trust and a sense of security with customers by notifying them about their appointment. This appointment notification also includes a short bio about the technician who will be visiting the customer’s home. As soon as the service is complete, this program prompts a review automatically.
Responding to reviews is a key part of upkeeping your brand reputation, building trust in your company and managing customer feedback. That said, it’s critical that you respond to both the positive and negative reviews of your service.
Positive reviews boost prospects’ faith in your business and often indicate a future return customer. However, your interaction with a customer who has given you a positive review does not end here.
Around 53% of customers expect you to reply to their review within seven days. After all, this customer has taken time out of their day to thoughtfully review your business and they deserve your thanks.
No one wants to read a negative review about their business. However, you can’t please everybody and as your business grows, so too will the likelihood that you may have to deal with the odd negative review. The key here is exactly that—dealing with them. Replying to a negative review has two main impacts:
We hope the above strategies to increase your Google My Business reviews enables you to continue converting leads into customers and to boost your website rankings.
Should you have any questions, we invite you to reach out to our team of local marketing experts and inquire about our Google My Business management services. We’d be honoured to help your business reach its goals.