What are Google reviews?
Everyone uses Google, so everyone would have seen a Google review at some point.
They appear in the Google My Business profile paired with star ratings and can be left by anyone with a Google account. Reviewers tend to focus on what they liked or disliked about the service they received to share their experience with fellow customers. Users who write reviews are often labelled as a local guide by Google, whose reviews generally hold more weight as they appear more trustworthy.
Why are online reviews important?
The benefits you can reap from receiving online reviews are threefold:
1) Word of mouth. First of all, users are more likely to listen to another customer’s account of what a business is like than to a description from the business itself – it’s unbiased and lets new customers know what to expect. Never underestimate the power of online reviews as they can work wonders in creating trust. Many studies have been completed on the relationship between reviews and levels of engagement; according to BrightLocal, 78% of customers trust online reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations, whilst 68% say they are more likely to use a service if it has positive reviews. This just goes to show the importance online reviews can have for a business.
2) Genuine feedback. The second benefit of online reviews is their ability to advise businesses on what they’re doing well and what needs improving. Many business owners and/ or managers live in fear of receiving a negative review, but it isn’t all doom and gloom. Responding to a negative review is just another great way to interact with customers, whilst letting prospective customers see that interaction. It’s important to acknowledge the fact that someone didn’t have a great experience with your business, and apologise and try to rectify the situation. By doing this, you ensure that everyone who comes across that negative review will see you have taken the feedback seriously and you’re working to improve your service.
So, the idea is simple: provide excellent service, get great reviews, and appeal to new customers.
3) Google. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Google takes reviews into consideration when it comes to determining visibility and rankings. Not only does Google want to know what your business is offering, but also how it’s being perceived by customers. Google does this is by looking at the number of reviews as well as the overall rating of a business. For those of you who use Google a lot, you may have noticed over the years that Google has put a lot of time and effort into updating its Google My Business profiles and map listings. As a result, the number of reviews and a business’ overall rating are among the first things to be seen on either of those platforms, proving Google’s emphasis on online reviews for businesses.
With regards to visibility and rankings, displaying a positive presence bodes well in Google’s eyes and they’ll look upon your business more favourably. According to Moz, around 15% of Google’s algorithm is dedicated to review signals – with more positive reviews there will be an increase in click-through rate, which will signify trust to Google’s algorithm and they’ll keep your listing at a more optimum ranking level. Another benefit from online reviews is the ROI from the increased click-through-rate. It’s highly likely that once a customer is satisfied a business is trustworthy, they’ll use their services; the more conversions a business receives, the more industry authority it will gain, which can also lead to higher rankings on Google.
Google Reviews best practices
Now that you know what they are and why they’re important, let’s lay down some ground rules for Google reviews.
Always try and respond to your reviews, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative (in the case of the latter, DO NOT answer with an angry/negative reply). You want to show existing and future customers that you care about engaging with your clientele.
Don’t fake your reviews. This includes having employees or family and friends writing a review. Google really does frown upon this and it could result in a penalty on your listing, which could lose you authority. You want to be able to feel the benefits of online reviews so the best ones are those that are gained honestly.
Try and encourage online reviews for your business. You can do this by giving your customers a little prompt at a point of interaction, which could be a sign in the window or a line at the bottom of an email. If your customers don’t have a Gmail account, you could encourage them to sign up, and even offer to help them do so.
It would be a good idea to have a designated review manager who’s responsible for replying to reviews. A consistent tone of voice can really help to establish your brand online.
Use all of your reviews to your advantage. Improve procedures with the help of negative reviews, or share your strengths with your team to boost morale. At the end of the day it’s all about the customer, so if they’re telling you what they want, don’t waste the opportunity to deliver.
Remember, you can report a review if it violates Google’s policies. For example, if it contains offensive language, if it was made by a disgruntled ex-employee, or if it doesn’t apply to your business at all. Simply flag the review as inappropriate and it will be reviewed and, hopefully, removed.
Online Reviews with Active Internet Marketing
If you would like more information or advice on online reviews for your business or your online presence more generally, get in touch with us. Here at Active Internet Marketing, we are experts in online reputation management content creation and management and we’d be happy to use our expertise to help create a successful online presence for your business. Give us a call on 01604 765796 or get in touch via our online contact form, and one of our friendly team members will get back to you.