As the old saying goes, any publicity is good publicity. But is that true today and how do we actively capture customers’ thoughts and feedback on our businesses?

Reputation and word of mouth are big drivers of potential customers, but what other ways are there to secure recommendations which can be visible on a larger platform, such as the world’s largest search engine? Google Reviews are key to online success, both locally and further afield.

What are Google Reviews?

Google Reviews are reviews of businesses that have a location – reviews are posted by customers and appear on a number of Google platforms such as Google Maps, Google Business and Google Search.

Why not use another review platform?

Google Maps and Google Search are some of the biggest platforms used worldwide, meaning that they far outweigh other review platforms, plus reviews on Google platforms actively impact results in the SERPS, meaning they are worth their weight in gold.

Why are Google Reviews important?

Recent studies have shown that 92% of consumers actively read online reviews before visiting a business with a view to purchasing. If your business has good and positive reviews, potential customers feel more at ease with your offering and are more likely to click on your site whereas those with a lot of negative, unanswered reviews are less likely to see online conversions.

Not only do your potential customers trust them, but Google also trusts reviews for the simple reason that Google wants to produce and return the best results and more trustworthy retailers and businesses available. With better reviews come better search results!

In addition, reviews form valuable feedback for Google’s internal algorithms with reviews that are descriptive to the service you provide such as “great, knowledgeable SEO specialists”, Google can better understand your offering. According to a recent Moz report, ranking signals that determine how prominent you are shown in search results make up 15.44% of your local search ranking.

Furthermore, also in the Moz report those businesses that rank higher on local search with a better review star rating see up to 35% higher clickthrough rate.

How can I collect Google Reviews?

There are a number of ways you can encourage your customers to leave a Google Review, including:

  1. Review prompts via text/email
    Make the process easier for your customer with a link to your Google Business profile in text or email asking for their feedback. If a customer has to work hard to leave a review, it is unlikely they will do it therefore the smoother the process, the better the chance they will do it!
  2. Close surveys with review link
    If your business uses surveys, make sure that you are closing the survey with the direct review link. Your customers are already fully engaged after completing a survey and therefore in the right mindset for leaving a review.
  3. Link in your email signature
    Email signatures are still used and important, so make sure that yours is up to date and includes a link for leaving a review. Adding a star graphic to show how well you are viewed online is also a visual aid that may attract some customers to review.
  4. Social shoutout
    If you have a good engaged audience on social media, why not share a video and ask for some reviews as feedback? The personal approach with a video will keep your audience engaged and you can explain why reviews are so vital and how they can help. Remember to include a link!
  5. Engage employees
    If your employees are engaging with customers regularly whether virtually or face to face, encourage them to ask for a review, as long as they feel comfortable doing so. People are more likely to leave a positive review from people and businesses they trust and have a rapport with, so home in on this.
  6. A landing page makes it easier still!
    Use a landing page to show some of your current feedback and reviews and leave customers with the chance to write theirs. Not only will potential customers see other opinions which could prove to be vital at the buying stage of their journey, but existing customers are also made to feel important and have the ability to review too.

What not to do?

So now you know how important reviews are and how to actively obtain them, here are a few things NOT to do:

  1. Never buy reviews
    There is never a time in which you should buy reviews, even if your overall score is low! Not only is there a very high chance of receiving many spammy reviews and incoherent comments, but it is also against Google’s policy which states purchasing reviews from third-party vendors is forbidden.
  2. Allow EVERYONE to leave reviews
    Never gate your reviews – everyone should have the opportunity to review your business, even those who were left less than satisfied with your service. Hundreds of 5* reviews can look somewhat unnatural and unlikely and also leave you without the ability to learn from any mistakes or issues that have previously arisen. As business owners, we all know that things do happen from time to time, and processes can change and adapt when less than positive feedback is given.
  3. Employees are not reviewers
    Don’t ask your current or former employees to leave reviews. Not only are these likely to be extremely biased, but they are also not going to represent the full customer experience and will really stick out. Plus, it’s not hard to see the connection between those leaving reviews and members of the team featured on the website, blog, or LinkedIn for instance.

How to handle bad Google Reviews?

First of all, it’s important not to take bad reviews personally and instead to view them objectively. Bad or less-than-positive reviews will happen from time to time, but how you respond to them is vital.

If you fire off a reply when you are angry or upset, you could type something that you would later regret. Don’t forget, everyone can see replies, so it is important to consider your tone of voice, brand guidelines and how best to handle to keep the integrity of the business. Whilst you may disagree with the feedback given, a positive reply will still look favourable when read by potential customers.

Make sure that you respond to reviews in a timely manner – by responding to negative reviews within 24-48 hours, you may be able to resolve the situation and change the customer’s mind.

Finally, try and take the conversation offline with the aim of resolving the dispute.

Some examples of a suitable reply include:

“We are so sorry that you experienced difficulty with your order. We want to make this right, please call us on 01234 567890 and we can help from there.”

“Thank you for your feedback and bringing this matter to our attention – the service you received falls below our high standards and we would like to make this right for you. Please can you call us on 01234 567890 or email our customer service team where we will rectify this for you.”

How to delete Google Reviews

If you suspect that a review isn’t genuine and hasn’t come from one of your customers, but instead from a competitor or just someone with a dislike of your business, it will impact your review rating and won’t give an accurate representation of the customer service you provide.

The bad news is that you can’t delete a Google Review, however, you CAN report it.

By flagging the report as inappropriate, you are notifying Google that the review isn’t genuine and that you have an issue. Whilst this doesn’t mean they will definitely remove it from the review account, they may decide to handle it.

In addition, the best way to respond to a review that you believe to be disingenuous is to reply – but remember the rules above. Respond with something along the lines of:

Hi (name), we have looked on the system and hove no record of you being one of our customers. Did you leave this review for the right business? Please feel free to call our customer service team on 01234 567890 and we can discuss this further.

A response that is polite and professional whilst correctly handling fake reviews – a key example of your brand values and how you will deal with future customers.

Reviews can form a vital part of an SEO strategy – talk to us today about how we can help!

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