What’s the first thing you do when you need to find a new business in your area? If you’re like most people, you do a Google search and read some online reviews to narrow your options. Whether deciding on a local bank, electrician, car dealer, or microbrewery, consumers value the opinions of others before they commit their own time and money.
This is why Google reviews are so important to local businesses and just one of the reasons they should be a priority. For many local searches, listings with Google reviews are the first things that appear in the search engine. Here’s what every business must know about Google reviews to be successful.
What Are Google Reviews?
It’s simple enough because just about all of us have read them, written them, or both. Google reviews are online feedback left by customers on a business’ Google business profile. When someone searches for a local business, like a restaurant or law firm, or tries to find map directions, listings with reviews are one of the first things that appear.
If a previous customer wants to leave a review, it’s easy and free to do. A review includes a rating from one to five stars and a write-up as long as 4,000 characters that describe a person’s experience. Because Google is such a large and trusted search engine, many people will go to and trust Google reviews when searching for local businesses.
The reviews your business receives will show up in three places on Google:
1. Google Knowledge Panel
When a person searches for your business name, Google will show them a digital business card on the right side of their screen. This is called the Google Knowledge Panel, which pulls information from your Google Business profile, including your business address, phone number, website link, and reviews.
2. Google Local Search Results
If a consumer searches for something like “electrician near me,” they’ll usually get local search results from Google that includes a map. This “map pack” also pulls from Google business profiles. It returns results based on relevancy to the search term, proximity to the searcher, Google star ratings, and other factors.
3. Google Maps Search
Some customers will go directly to their Google Maps app or the Google Maps page to search for businesses. This will also bring up results that are pulled from Google Business profiles and include customer review information.
Why Google Reviews Matter
It’s probably no surprise that Google is the most popular online platform for reviews. More than half (59%) of consumers use the service to find and research local businesses. In fact, word-of-mouth has become the gold standard for reaching new customers.
1. Boosts Local SEO Rankings
One digital marketing goal of most small businesses is to rank as high as possible in Google organic search results. If you can do this, you’ll start getting more free traffic to your website, calls to your business, etc. More and better Google reviews can improve your local SEO ranking.
2. Enhances Brand Recognition
Trust is essential when consumers are deciding how to spend their money. Paid ads might get your business some exposure, but they won’t build trust the way customer testimonials will. Even if a prospective customer needs your services or gets a personal recommendation, they’re likely going to look up your reviews before contacting you.
3. Increases Sales
No customer wants to feel buyer’s remorse. The best way to avoid this is to get validation for purchasing decisions before handing over any cash. Reviews offer insight into other’s experiences. When your past customers write about being happy with their purchases, you can count on more people pulling the trigger to buy from your business.
4. Lowers Other Marketing Costs
While you don’t want to rely entirely on Google reviews for your online marketing, having sold online feedback from customers coming in can reduce your overall marketing costs. For example, you may not need to rely on Google ads to drive traffic to your website if your Google Business profile is doing the job for you.
5. Improves Customer Feedback Loop
Customer feedback does more than just attract more business. It helps you retain current clients and learn about ways you can improve your business. As a business owner, it’s critical to know what you’re doing well so you can do more of it. You also need to know about any issues you might need to address moving forward.
How Your Local Business Can Get Google Reviews
What could be better than using a 100% free tool to attract new customers? That’s what Google reviews offers by giving people a platform to leave online feedback and read about the experiences of others. How can your business get more Google reviews? This is a challenge for many organizations. But it doesn’t have to be with the right strategies. Here are some ways your business can start obtaining more online feedback and enjoying the benefits a strong Google profile can provide.
Before you pursue Google reviews, it’s critical you confirm that your business is eligible. Here are the criteria you need to meet:
- Your business must have a location on Google Maps. Online businesses usually don’t qualify. You’ll be asked to provide an address to show up in local search results.
- You have a verified Google Business profile. Creating a Google Maps listing will also give you a Google Business profile. But you need to create a Google business account and verify ownership of your business as well.
- You understand Google’s policies. Google has a lot of rules when it comes to reviews to maintain the integrity of the platform. Ensure you adhere to its Terms of Service, which means you won’t pay for reviews or otherwise harass customers.
Once you have a Google Business profile in place, here is how you can get more Google reviews:
1. Make It Simple
When a customer asks how they can leave a review, don’t make them work hard to do it. Understand how Google reviews work so you can quickly explain the process. You can also place a link on your website that goes directly to the review section of your Google profile.
2. Show Testimonials on Your Website
Place a customer testimonial widget on your website that shows your overall Google star rating and has some excerpts from posted reviews. The widget should also link directly to your business profile when clicked.
3. Hand Out Feedback Request Cards
One effective offline method for generating reviews is to hand out small cards asking for online feedback. State how reviews help your business improve the customer experience and provide the website address to leave a review.
4. Ask for Reviews in Person
There’s nothing wrong with asking customers to help out your business by leaving you an online review. Be sure to note how easy and quick the process is.
5. Run Feedback Campaigns
If you want to collect some online reviews from past customers, you can run a campaign via email or social media to remind these clients how important customer reviews are to your business.
Monitoring and Responding to Your Google Reviews
Getting a lot of Google reviews is vital. But you also have to pay attention to what’s happening on your Google Business profile. When you receive a new review, you’ll get an alert sent to the email address linked to your Google Business profile. Whether reviews are positive or negative, you should respond to every one of them promptly and appropriately. Specifically, you should:
- Thank the customer for their feedback.
- Invite them to contact you directly, and
- Personalize your response so they feel appreciated by your business.
What happens when you get a negative review? The same advice holds true. You should do the above three things. What you should never do is argue with a customer or belittle them. It’s unprofessional and will make your business look awful in the eyes of those people doing preliminary research. The best approach to negative reviews is to invite the customer to contact you offline to discuss the matter further.
It’s always possible that you could get an inappropriate review or even a fake one, such as false feedback from a competitor. These are against Google’s policies, and you can request that the search engine remove them.
Call Too Darn Loud Marketing Today to Speak to a Local Search Marketing Specialist
When you need to connect with local customers, there’s no substitute for having a strong online presence that includes a Google Business profile with customer feedback. Setting up and optimizing this profile and soliciting feedback from your customers can be time-consuming, but we can help.
Too Darn Loud Marketing is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps small businesses throughout the United States get the results they need. We customize our solutions for each client, so you only get the services we believe will produce the best possible results. Call us today at (800) 649-1764 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.