Are you a local business looking to get more new clients through Google and improve your reputation online? A great place to get two benefits in one key is by adding Google reviews to your Google Business profile (formally known as Google My Business).
Many businesses don’t realize how important Google reviews are to their success online.
According to recent research from Moz, businesses that rank highly in Google reviews are five times more likely to be considered reputable by consumers.
“82% of consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations.”
These statistics prove that Google reviews are an important part of local business marketing.
In this article, we’ll dig deeper into why Google reviews are so important, and why you should take the time to ensure your Google Business profile has enough positive online reviews to help boost rankings. Let’s dive deeper!
What is a Google Business profile
Let’s start from the beginning and explain what exactly a Google Business profile is.
A Google Business profile is your business’ home on Google. This is where you display important business details such as opening times, holidays, incorporation date, local news, and customer reviews about your business.
Where can I see my Google Business profile
To find your business, you need to have a profile set up. If you haven’t set one up yet, your listing may still be created by someone else. If you have, make sure you click the “claim this business” link in your profile and follow the steps.
If your profile has just been created, and you don’t currently have many (or any) online reviews, you may not be ranked yet, but you can still see how your company appears in search results by typing in your business name followed by the city where your business is located.
Your business profile will appear on the right side of the page, and this particular area is called the knowledge panel.
You may have difficulty appearing here if there are multiple businesses with the same name. In this case, one of the best things to do is to make sure you add as much information as possible to your profile.
Your business can also appear on the map pack – this area is above the search results. Appearing here can be more difficult depending on the competition in your area, so getting more positive Google reviews than your competitors is crucial to ranking in the top 3.
The last place you can look to see your Google Business profile is Google Maps. Similar to the map pack, this list is sorted by relevance and proximity to searchers, and Google reviews play a big role in determining your business ranking.
It’s important to note that if your business doesn’t have a public address, you’ll have a harder time appearing at the top.
What and where are reviews on Google Business profile
Reviews on your Google Business profile are reviews from customers about your product, business or service. Only one Google review can be left per customer.
You can find reviews wherever your profile is displayed, including on Google Maps and map packages. However, individual reviews will only appear in the knowledge panel if you have at least five reviews. So, try to keep that number the absolute minimum.
How many reviews do I need
This depends entirely on your industry. For example, restaurants tend to have more reviews than the local post office because the experience of visiting a restaurant is more enjoyable than sending a package to someone.
Since individual reviews only appear on the knowledge panel if you have at least five reviews, then that is your minimum target, but you should try to get ahead of the competition. It is highly recommended to check how many Google reviews your competitors have.
To do this, type in a phrase that you think customers typically use to find your business (for example, “plumber in Charlotte NC”), and note how many reviews each business has on the map back. You should beat all three!
Why Google reviews are important and what they do
Google reviews are often overlooked by businesses, but they have a huge impact, not only on getting a better position on Google, but also on how customers perceive your business. You may have the best product, service or website, but if your competitors have tons of great reviews (and you don’t), you could lose customers to them.
1.Customers look for reviews (especially on Google)
Before buying a service or working with a business, potential customers do some research to check a business’ online reputation. In BrightLocal’s 2022 survey, they found that 34% always check online reviews of local businesses, and 43% regularly check them. Only 2% of customers never check company reviews.
2. Higher local rankings
Reviews have a huge impact on local rankings and SEO. In 2021, Whitespark released their Local Search Ranking Survey where marketers think that reviews are the second most important ranking factor when trying to appear on pack 3, contributing up to 17% of their impact.
3. Social proof
In a 2021 survey, BrightLocal found that 54% of customers would use a local business with at least 4 stars. It’s normal to get negative reviews, but if you have a star rating below 4 stars, try reaching out to happy customers to improve this rating or you’ll lose 54% of potential customers.
4. More clicks to your website, and phone calls
If a customer is not satisfied with a 3-star rating, they will stop there and move on to the next company.
Similarly, if a listing doesn’t have many reviews (or zero!), potential customers won’t have enough trust in the company to click on the website link or call your business.
5. Search without clicks
What is increasingly common in Google Search is something called “clickless search”. Google tries to provide answers directly within Google so that you don’t have to leave the page.
This means that some customers may not even visit a website before they decide to send a message, call, or visit a location. So, if you think you already have enough testimonials on your website to convince someone to do business with you, think again! Some potential customers only look at reviews on Google before they contact a business.
Do’s and don’ts of Google reviews
Google reviews should be as natural as possible, but there are still a few things to keep in mind when reaching out and managing your online reviews.
All 5 stars is not the goal and can be suspicious
No business is perfect, so if you have all 5-star reviews, customers may become suspicious as this doesn’t look natural. Google also does its best to check the quality of reviews, as do potential customers, so all 5 stars can be suspicious to Google if other signals also indicate something unnatural is happening.
If you get a negative Google review, don’t worry. This is normal and potential customers understand and expect this. Try to balance it out by reaching out to happy customers to get a total review above 4. The sweet spot that gives confidence and trust is a total 4.5 star score.
Don’t ask employees
Reviews are not for employees to review their workplace. This may seem obvious, but some companies don’t know how to reach out to their customers, so ask their employees to leave a review. They then write something like “Great place to work”. This is not what customers want to see and won’t do much to help them choose your business over another business that has genuine customer reviews.
It is also common for some businesses to ask their employees to pretend to be customers and leave 5-star reviews. Since reviews are good for local SEO and are a very important Google ranking factor, Google takes quality control seriously. If there are some reviews that Google thinks are fake, your listing could be removed.
Don’t wait for reviews to appear. Depending on your industry, they may not come quickly. Many times customers need a gentle nudge to leave a review.
I’ll give you a personal example.
I recently picked up my car from a long-term rental and parking company. After I got home, I received a message from them saying that they wished me a pleasant experience, and if I could leave a review on Google. Guess what… I did! Would I have done it if they hadn’t asked? Probably not in this case.
So, if a customer is happy with the service you provide, don’t be afraid to ask. Ask them how their experience was and if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review, and add a link in the message to your listing.
Don’t rush it all at once
Building reviews naturally won’t happen overnight, so don’t try to rush reviews in one week and then stop for months. If reviews happen all at once, and there are no reviews for half a year later, Google will consider the reviews not genuine. So, reach out to customers and ask for reviews, but be consistent. Make this part of the process so that customers are contacted regularly.
Reply to reviews (even bad ones)
Potential customers love to see businesses that engage with their customers. So when you start getting reviews on your list, try to reply to each review. It doesn’t have to be a long reply. You can just thank them for choosing you and leaving a review.
You should also reply to negative reviews. When you get a negative review, be polite and try to redirect the issue elsewhere as soon as possible. Ask the customer to contact you via email to have the problem fixed. This will soften the negative review for other potential customers as they see you take the customer experience seriously.
How to get more reviews
OK, now you know why Google reviews are so important, but you might be wondering where to start. There’s no one right way, and it can depend on your industry and how you interact with your customers. Below are some ideas to help you get started.
Send messages to happy customers
Immediately after a positive interaction with a customer, or right after you’ve done business with them, reach out to them, ask how their experience was and if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review on your Google listing.
Try to send the message near the time of the interaction to maximize your chances of getting a review. This could be immediately after they purchase a product or a positive interaction during service.
Here is a template to help you get started.
Hi, [CUSTOMER NAME]
We hope you’re happy with our [OLD PRODUCT/SERVICE], and if there’s anything we can help you with or if you have any questions, please let us know.
If you have some free time, we would appreciate it if you visit our Google Reviews page and provide feedback on our performance.
(Include your Google Link)
Thank you for your time, and if you need anything else, contact us at [INSERT NUMBER].
Team [BUSINESS NAME]
Add a review widget to your website
Once you have some positive reviews, add a review widget to your website to showcase them. This not only provides social proof to build trust with potential customers, but also shows current customers where they can leave reviews.
What else can I do to improve my Google Business profile
While getting enough positive reviews on your Google Business profile is important, there’s a lot more you can do to make the most of the platform. We’ve gone into more depth about Google Maps marketing here, but read on to get an overview of what you should be doing.
The right business category
Aside from reviews, choosing the right category is crucial for Google listings. You can choose up to 10 categories, but in this case, less is more!
The more categories you add, the less powerful they become. The key is to choose the category that best describes your business. For example, if you are a pizzeria and only serve pizza, you don’t need to add “restaurant” to your categories. It is better to choose categories like “pizzeria”, “pizza delivery”, and “takeaway pizza”.
Posts on your Google Business Profile don’t have a direct impact on local rankings, but they are an important way to show that your business is active and interacting with customers. Frequent posting can inform customers about your business, the services you offer, and let them know that you are an active company ready to do business.
Questions and answers
Questions and answers is a feature for customers to ask questions that can be answered by the business owner or other customers.
Businesses can also add their own customer questions and answers, so there’s no need to wait for questions to be added. Just think of the most popular questions that are frequently asked, and then add them to the questions and answers section. This helps remove any barriers to entry that potential customers may have before they contact you or make a purchase.
For example, “Do you offer a money-back guarantee?” or “Is there a parking lot?”.
Citations are details of companies listed in business directories. Adding your details on this website will not only put your company in front of potential customers searching the directory, but it is also a signal to Google that you are an established company.
When adding your business details to directories, make sure the information you add is consistent. Businesses sometimes mistakenly use slight variations of the company name or address on different directories. So, make sure you add the same details every time.
If you’re a local business, Google reviews are not something to ignore. Not only do reviews have a huge impact on rankings, but they also boost your online reputation, which greatly affects whether or not customers want to do business with you. Depending on your industry, customers are likely to research multiple companies, and they are more likely to choose a company that has 48 positive Google reviews over one that has only one.
Try to think of a simple process to reach out to your customers regularly to give them a gentle nudge about your Google reviews, or whichever platform is important to your business. The time spent doing this will go a long way in the form of more sales and sign-ups.
If you’re not sure how to optimize your Google listing, or don’t have the time to manage your Google Business profile account, contact us today to find out more about our Google My Business service. Customers who have signed up for this service have seen fantastic results.