What are Google Business reviews?
Before learning the importance of reviews, it is important what they are exactly. On your Google Business Profile, customers have the option to leave a review. Their review will show up next to your Profile on both Maps and Search. There is no need for a Gmail account so all of your customers are able to leave comments. A review on Google always includes a rating of 1 to 5 stars. Customers can then write a comment to substantiate their evaluation and write about their personal experience with your company. Commenting is optional but it is a great way to receive feedback on your performance. Google itself also suggests buttons with words like: good service, professional, bad quality and not responsive. In this way, customers are encouraged to clarify their selections without having to write a review themselves. Lastly a photo can be added to the review which is also optional. A review consisting of all these three elements is ideal. In the next paragraph, you will learn why.
Why are Google Reviews Important for Businesses?
Managing reviews on Google Business Profiles is often overlooked as many marketers do not understand the importance of reviews and the impact they have on their business. There are 3 main factors that reviews will impact:
Reviews are a great means to improve your company’s customer engagement. Responding to reviews will prove to clients that you value their input. A survey showed that 55% of consumers would feel more positive about a business when the owner replies to reviews. Encouraging customers to leave a review and responding to them will help in building a stronger relationship and will lead to an increased customer loyalty.
The reviews on a Google Business Profile are considered very important when wanting to drive potential customers to your location. As many as 77% of consumers read online reviews when browsing for local businesses. When reviews are honest and objective, they are helpful to potential customers. Customers are more trusting of a combination of good and negative comments. Clearly, the review section of a Business Profile is an important factor to potential customers when judging your trustworthiness.
Local SEO (Local Pack/Finder & Localised Organic Results)
Another reason why reviews on your Google Business Profile are important is that it is a Local SEO ranking factor. Especially on Local Pack. Google ranks local businesses according to their relevance, distance and prominence. Google describes prominence as “how well a business is known” and bases its judgement of this factor on information the search engine can obtain about a business from the web. Reviews are also taken into account when doing so. Positive customer reviews can help your business stand out and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will stop by.
How to gain reviews?
The only way to gather trustworthy reviews on your business is to plainly ask for it. However, you can encourage customers to share their experiences by simplifying the process for them. Google allows business owners to create links to their review section on their Google Business Profile. On the profile, select Customers > Reviews > Get more reviews, to create the link. This link can then be used when asking customers for reviews by adding it to the end of your e-mails, post it on social media profiles, or embed it on websites. If your main contact with customers is off-line, you could generate a QR-code with the link and hand out these printed codes to your customers.
How to respond to reviews?
Once you have gathered some reviews on your Google Business Profile, it is important to reply to them as explained earlier. On the profile, each review has to be selected individually to react to them.
Positive reviews are always pleasant to receive. Replying to them may not seem as important as it would be for negative comments. However, acknowledging the time and effort your customer put in to write about their experience with you, will make them feel valued and might invite others to do the same. A simple ‘thank you’ would be enough although a more personalised message would be appreciated more.
Almost all business owners come across unsatisfied customers and bad reviews. The Google algorithms understands this as well and so a few bad comments won’t hurt your ranking. Getting many unfavourable reviews however will hurt your business’ reputation. To control the damage it is important to respond to these remarks quickly and correctly. Customers expect an answer within 7 days but needless to say; the sooner, the better. The following steps will help in creating a response that neutralises negative review and may leave customers feeling heard and understood:
- Acknowledge the negative experience of your customer
- Apologise and empathise with the situation
- Take responsibility, even if you do not agree
- Provide an explanation but mind your tone
Make sure you do not sound defensive or attacking
- Invite the customer to a personal conversation
This will take the dispute offline