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A Guide to Collecting and Managing Google Reviews

May 20, 2020

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Google reviews matter for a very simple reason: it’s the introduction your customers have to your brand.

The first thing that a customer usually does when considering a business is look it up on Google search.

When they do this, Google reviews will be immediately visible. If you’re not making a good introduction in the form of great reviews, chances are potential customers are going to turn elsewhere. Let’s talk about what you can do to get more Google reviews and get the social proof you need to stand out from the pack.

What are Google reviews?

Google reviews are reviews posted by customers on Google platform. When someone looks for your business on Google search or looks up directions to your business on Google Maps, Google reviews are one of the first things that they see. Since Google Maps and Google My Business are used so often by consumers, Google reviews have high visibility compared to reviews posted on other review sites.

Why Google reviews matter

Google reviews can help your business build trust with potential customers. Here’s how:

  • Social proof. Google reviews are meant to be an authentic representation of genuine customer experiences. Positive Google reviews show social proof. If prospects see that you’re consistently delighting customers, they’ll feel more comfortable moving forward in the buyer’s journey.
  • Increased click through rate. More reviews also translate into more clicks and more traffic for your business. Businesses with a higher overall star rating on Google see a 35% higher click through rate.

Google reviews and SEO

There’s another area where Google reviews can help your business: search engine optimization. Google aims to give businesses relevant results to their search queries. Reviews help your business in two areas that are highly valued for local search ranking: relevance and authority. Let’s go through both.

Relevance

Relevance is meant to measure how relevant your business is to customer search queries. If you’re a pizza restaurant and a customer says something like “Great pizza!” in their review, it gives Google a better idea of what kinds of services you offer to customers. As a result, you’ll rank higher in relevant searches.

Prominence

When ranking businesses, Google also measures prominence. Prominence is tied to the amount of information about your business online. Backlinks to your business’s website can help here. So can reviews. After all, having numerous five-star Google reviews shows that your business is highly regarded by customers in your area.

Because it helps with relevance and prominence, reviews have a big impact on visibility. Reviews are the third most important factor determining your business’ local search ranking.

How to collect more Google reviews

Here’s a conundrum for you: Most businesses have happy customers. Most happy customers would love to help businesses by writing a review. So why are so many businesses lacking reviews on sites like Google?

The fact is that most customers are just not willing to put in the effort to find your Google My Business profile and leave a review. In fact, it seems that the only people who want to put in the extra effort are those who are motivated by anger. Studies show that the customers who usually leave reviews are those who feel that they've had a strongly negative experience.

There is a solution to this problem: soliciting reviews. When done correctly, this gives customers the push they need to write a review on a platform like Google. However, effective solicitation is not just about asking for reviews in-person. While it sounds good in theory, in practice more customers end up agreeing to write a review and then forget about it as soon as they walk out of the door. So how can you send review requests that work?

Sending effective review requests

There’s an art to sending an effective review request. We’ve found that businesses are able to collect more reviews when they follow these simple steps.

Claim your Google My Business profile

The very first thing that you should do is claim your Google My Business profile. Again, this is where all of your Google reviews will be displayed. Once you claim and optimize your profile, it will be easier for customers to find your business and leave a review.

Here’s how you can claim your Google My Business profile:

  • Do a Google search for your business’s name. If you’ve been around for long enough, chances are that you already have a business profile. All you have to do is claim it.
  • Click the button that says “Own this Business?”
  • This will take you into the claim flow for a Google My Business profile. In order to verify your business, Google will usually send you a postcard with your code. This usually takes around 5 business days but can vary based on your location.
  • Once you have your code, verify your business. At this point, you’ll be able to make changes to your profile.

Send review requests via text and email

Few customers are motivated to leave a review on their own time. The trick is to make the process easy for them. That’s why we recommend sending review requests via text and/or email. That way, all your customer has to do is click a link and leave a review. It’s simple, quick, and easy.

Remember that timing is everything

Be sure that you send a review request when your brand is fresh in the customer’s mind. If you send a review request to a happy customer a month after they’ve done business with you, they might not have a clear memory of the transaction anymore and might not be willing to leave a review.

Ask all your customer for reviews

Some businesses are so afraid of negative reviews that they’ll only solicit feedback from customers who they’re absolutely certain will leave a positive review. This is a bad idea for a few reasons. First of all, a bad review isn’t inherently bad for your business. A few negative reviews are inevitable and show customers that all your reviews are authentic. Also, this type of “review gating” is banned by Google. If your business is caught doing this, you will face a penalty in search ranking.

Use a Google short link

Google gives businesses the ability to create a short link in their Google My Business profile. That means instead of the long string of numbers and letters that is the Google My Business URL, you can get a clean short link that makes your business easy to find.

Here’s how you can set up a short link:

  • Sign in to Google My Business.
  • If you have a multi-location business, open the location you wish to create a short name for.
  • From the menu on the left, click Info > Add profile short name. If this feature is available, you should see this in the box under “phone number”.
  • Enter your short name. Your short name can be anywhere between five and 32 characters.
  • Click Apply. Your short name will show as pending. Google needs to approve this short link and it will show on your business profile when it’s approved.

Keep your review requests short and sweet

Don’t make your review requests too wordy. Your customers don’t want to have to read an essay about why they need to leave you feedback. Just 2-3 sentences should do the trick. Here’s a template that you can use to request reviews.

Hey (customer name), thanks for visiting (business name). We hope that you had a great experience. Please click the link to give us feedback.

Deliver great experiences

While this might sound obvious, we have to say it. In order to collect more Google reviews, it’s important to make sure that you’re delivering fantastic customer experiences across the board. When a customer is delighted about their experience, they’ll be more likely to leave a review than a customer that is just so-so.

What you shouldn’t do: buy reviews

Before we move on here, we do want to make one thing clear. Under no circumstances should you ever buy Google reviews. You are risking your business’s credibility with customers. If anyone so much as suspects that you’re paying for Google reviews, they will not want to frequent your business.

Plus, you are risking a potential penalty by Google. If Google discovers that you’ve bought reviews, you will not only have your reviews removed, your business will also take a hit in search rankings.

How to remove a review from Google

Occasionally, you may get a review that you feel is an unfair or inaccurate representation of your business. While there is no way that a business owner can remove a review, there are two other entities that can: Google and the reviewer themselves. Let’s talk about how you can appeal to both of them in order to get reviews removed.

Reporting a review to Google

Here’s how you can report a review to Google:

  • Go to your Google My Business listing.
  • Find the review that you want to dispute.
  • Click the three vertical buttons on the right side of the review, then flag as inappropriate.

It’s important to note that Google will only delete a review if it violates one of its policies. It will not remove a bad review just for the sake of removing a bad review. So be sure to carefully review Google’s policies before you start reporting reviews.

Asking a customer to remove a bad review

You don’t have to use the report button for every bad review you get on Google. Occasionally, your business might have a real customer who’s frustrated because of a real service issue.

Instead of reporting the review, you should leave a response to the customer. If it’s a real customer who actually had a bad experience, chances are that a quick and effective review response can solve the problem. On many occasions, customers leave bad reviews as a way of raising their hands and getting the attention of the business.

When responding to a bad review, make sure to apologize for the bad experience that the customer had. Next, find out the main reason why they decided to give you a negative review. Chances are that if you manage to deal with this problem effectively, the customer’s opinion can be changed around. However, it’s important to keep speed in mind. If you wait too long to leave a response, it’s possible that the customer’s negative opinion of your business will have solidified. We recommend responding to reviews within a 24-hour period.

Once you’ve managed to deal with the problem the customer experienced effectively, you can then ask the customer to edit or delete their original review. When doing this, remember to stay polite and thank the reviewer for helping to improve your customer experience.

Here’s a template you can use:

Hey (customer name),

Thanks so much for bringing this problem to our attention. While we’re not proud of our initial failure, it’s customers like you who help to make our overall experience better for everyone.

We do recognize that the review that you left for us was based on your initial experience. We hoped that your view of our brand has changed since then. We’d love for you to update your review based on your new view of our business.

If you have any other questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out.

What to do when Google won’t delete Google reviews

While you can report reviews to Google, it’s ultimately up to them to decide whether or not the review gets removed. There is no guarantee that Google will remove the review even if you think it’s egregiously false.

If you do get a review that you feel is an inaccurate representation of your business, you don’t have to sit back and hope that Google’s team will take it down. Instead, leave a response that tells potential customers your side of the story.

However, it’s also important to remember to not seem too angry or defensive. Potential customers look at reviews to determine the kind of service that your business provides. No matter what, it’s important to stay polite.

Here’s a template that you can use to deal with reviews that seem like it came from someone who isn’t actually a customer:

Hey (reviewer name), we have no record of you being a customer with our business. Are you sure that you left your review for the right business? Give us a call at (phone number) so we can clear up any confusion.

Conclusion

Your Google reviews matter. Google reviews are crucial for establishing credibility with potential customers and getting discovered in relevant search queries. Because of their importance, Google reviews should not be left to chance. Make sure that your business is taking the right steps to both collect and manage reviews on Google

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