Google reviews are one of the best ways to position a local business at the top of SERPs. The number and quality of reviews can easily get you to the top of the search engine ranking pages, bringing enormous traffic to your blog. Aside from affecting your SEO, they also provide valuable insights to potential customers.
In a way, this type of online feedback is a modern version of word-of-mouth. Before visiting a bar, restaurant, or local service provider, web users check these Google reviews to determine whether they should trust a brand.
A fantastic thing about reviews is that they go far beyond simple star scores. They tell readers how the company and its employees behaved in specific real-world situations. Users are especially thorough when they have a negative experience revealing all of the companies’ dirty little secrets.
In this article, we’ll talk about the requirements and benefits of Google reviews. Furthermore, we’ll share some tips that will help you get more positive reviews from your customers.
Requirements for acquiring online reviews
Before your company can acquire any online reviews, it needs to fulfill the following requirements:
· Learn more about Google’s policies
Generally speaking, Google is always trying to provide impartial service to its users. Whether we’re talking about organic results or online reviews, they’re trying to make web searching the best possible experience possible.
According to the company’s policies, you shouldn’t pay people to boost your ranking with fake feedback. If you do so, you can easily get penalized by the search engine provider. To avoid this and similar issues, make sure to get acquainted with their policies and work within their frames.
· Having physical premises
Before you can create Google My Business profile, you need a physical address. Otherwise, you won’t be able to verify the brand. Luckily, even if you’re a small entrepreneur or freelancer working from home, you can use this location to set up a web business.
Always remember that address can have a positive or negative impact on the users. For example, if you can use several different addresses for verification, you should use the one located in a more populated area. Another potential mistake is using a home address instead of an office address.
· Create Google My Business
Finally, when you figure out all other things, it’s time to create a Google My Business account. Make sure to verify that the business is actually in your possession. Add your business address, work hours, and all other relevant data. Once you do so, the Google search engine will put you on Google maps, and you can start acquiring reviews from users.
What are the benefits of Google reviews?
This online feedback can help you in so many ways. In fact, Google reviews are probably the best, the cheapest marketing tool that small local companies have at their disposal.
Here are a few potential benefits you can receive:
· More leads and better conversions
Like traditional word of mouth, Google reviews are the best way to leave an impression on a person interested in your business. Not only will they help you acquire more leads through organic search, but they can also improve your conversion rates.
· Improved brand awareness
As you reach the top spots in search engines, you will get various marketing benefits. Among others, it can significantly improve your brand awareness within an area. This will help all your other marketing efforts by increasing your reputation and authority.
· Cheap promotion
The reason why Google reviews stand out is that you don’t have to pay for them. Creation of Google My Business is free, and so is the posting of online feedback. If you think about it, reaching the top spots in search engines without spending any money is pretty ludicrous.
Of course, they also work well when combined with other marketing strategies.
How to get more Google reviews?
Here are a few tricks that will help you acquire more and better reviews:
1. Ask for reviews
The first (and the obvious one) method of getting more reviews is simply asking for them. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should ask every person that steps into your shop for feedback. Instead, focus on clients who look happy after leaving your offices.
You can also ask your family and friends to leave a review, but this is only a short-term strategy. Sooner than later, you will have to focus on real customers. Google needs a steady influx of positive feedback to keep you at the top of the search engine.
2. Thank You notes
The variation of this approach is Thank You notes. Not only are they great for acquiring reviews, but they’re also fantastic for creating a bond between your business and clients. All you need is to add a link to the message explaining how their feedback can benefit your business.
3. Google Marketing Kit
After creating a Google My Business account, you can take the company’s free marketing kit. The search engine provider gives you access to various tools and promotional materials, some of which you can print. For example, you’ll get flyers, cards, posters, and other goodies.
The marketing kit is also a nice way to save money. It can be an invaluable resource for small local companies that can’t invest in expensive marketing campaigns.
4. QR codes
Among other things, the marketing kit also gives you access to QR codes. They are similar to bar codes, which clients can scan with their phones. Once users go over a QR code, they’re automatically redirected to your site. They are sent to the Google reviews page, making the whole feedback process quick and painless.
A fantastic thing about QR codes is that you can put them in just about anything. You can place them on your site, receipts, emails, social media accounts, etc. They’re not intrusive but can help a lot. If you wish, you can place the code on other traditional marketing materials such as business cards, flyers, brochures, etc.
5. Email campaigns
If you’re looking to maximize the number of reviews, it doesn’t get better than using transactional emails. The fantastic thing about them is that they seamlessly fit your marketing strategy. You can send them after every purchase, and people won’t consider them spam.
Another cool thing about transactional emails is that you can use them after every company/client interaction. Even if a person abandons cart mid-purchase, you can still use them to contact the potential customer.
Email marketing campaigns don’t take much time and resources as long as you use the right apps. You can schedule them in advance so that the tool sends them after certain client actions. You can even adjust when they are sent after purchase. That way, you won’t be too intrusive or too slow to respond.
Companies can add links and QR codes to just about anything. For example, you can use them as a part of the default email signature. Whenever you’re communicating with clients, partners, and other stakeholders, they’ll also get the option of reviewing your business. It’s a small addition that can go a long way in promoting your brand.
6. Website pop-ups
Website pop-ups are a bit more intrusive than some other methods on the list. However, if they can increase the number of reviews, you should definitely consider adding them.
You can use them only after website interactions, or you can add them as default pop-ups on the website. However, using pop-up forms randomly is usually not the best solution. Instead, it’s more advisable to use them after successful website interactions such as purchases. That way, it’s more likely you’ll receive positive feedback.
7. On-page CTA
Aside from pop-ups, you can also use a call-to-action button to persuade visitors to leave feedback. Most business owners put the CTA at the bottom of their homepage. If you place the review request at the top, it might deter people from reading the content.
As mentioned, you can put QR codes on just about anything. This also includes store receipts. Although most people don’t even notice them, there are always those who would be willing to use them to leave a review. You can use this method for digital or printed invoices and receipts.
Before placing the Google review link, we suggest that you shorten it by using bitly.com. Placing a long awkward link on a receipt could be considered unprofessional, even causing an adverse effect on customers.
Aside from using bitly, you can also use invoicing tools that will help you create customized documents. They can have a positive impact on brand awareness and review conversion rates.
9. Social media
Social media is another fantastic channel for increasing the number of Google business reviews. Like with all other methods, you need to use the direct link in a way it’s not intrusive, and yet, everyone can see it.
One of the things that people rarely talk about is social media reach. By posting positive reviews on your account, you can create shareable social proof. Unfortunately, most people won’t share this feedback with other users unless it is hilarious or downright awful.
10. Review instead of tips
Hotels, restaurants, and bars are some of the companies that benefit the most from local search results. They’re also businesses that are heavily reliant on tips.
These providers can increase employees’ wages, and in return, they can prohibit the collection of tips. Whenever a guest wants to leave a tip, the staff can tell them to provide a positive review instead. Educate your employees so they can properly explain the concept. Otherwise, it might seem that you’re stingy and don’t care about your team.
Google review best practices
Getting more feedback is just a part of the battle. You also need to learn how to improve their quality. Here are some of the best practices allowing proper utilization of Google reviews:
1. Focus on your business
There isn’t a better way of getting more and better reviews than by providing a good service. Although people are more likely to leave online feedback after a negative experience, they will eventually start praising your brand if you’re making their lives easier.
One of the good ways to improve their opinion of the brand is by having fantastic customer service. In the end, everyone likes companies that are ready to go the extra mile. Help your users by providing customized assistance and meeting their specific needs.
Customer service is especially important for web shops and other online brands as it humanizes the business.
2. Use Bitly
As soon as you generate a review link via Google My Business, you need to modify it, so it looks better. Bitly is the right tool for this. You just need to access the site, copy-paste the original link, add a preferred customized extension, and generate a new link.
We can’t emphasize enough how important this part is. Company owners who don’t have enough experience with digital marketing will just copy-paste the original link provided by Google. Not only does this look unprofessional, but some people will be reluctant to click on a long link because it looks suspicious.
3. Using reputation and review tools
If you’re serious about local SEO, you should invest some money in reputation tools.
Review generation tools are necessary if you wish to ask for reviews on a larger scale. These apps create customized templates, and all you need to do is add clients’ data. They’re especially awesome for email campaigns, but you can also use them on social media and other platforms.
Aside from that, you need to subscribe to reputation tools. These will allow you to monitor online feedback posted on Google and other sites. Whenever someone has negative feedback, you can address it immediately before the situation escalates.
4. Embedding Google reviews on your site
As previously mentioned, a company can use online reviews in numerous ways. For example, they are fantastic tools for increasing on-site conversion.
Use positive reviews as testimonials and guide visitors throughout their customer journey. Online feedback is especially important for users who don’t know much about your brand. Seeing all these positive sentiments provided by real people can instill trust, making it easier to finish a purchase.
There are various widgets that you can use to embed Google reviews. Choose a specific template, fonts, and colors that will fit well with your website design. These widgets work for any type of platform, including WordPress, Shopify, Wix, etc.
Among others, embedded reviews can have a positive impact on your SEO (this doesn’t pertain to local SEO). For example, they can increase time spent on site, which, in turn, will send a strong positive signal to search engines.
5. Regular profile updates
Companies hunting for Google reviews should regularly update their Google My Business profile. This is especially true if you move to another location. That way, your customers won’t get confused when leaving feedback. Updating the profile is also important for brand consistency.
6. Quickly responding to negative reviews
One of the more important things for companies is to respond quickly to positive and negative reviews.
There are a few reasons why you should do this. First off, it shows there are real people behind the business. This practice is crucial for companies that work exclusively online, given that most people are skeptical about web brands.
Most businesses are too afraid or too mad to respond to negative criticism. However, it’s vital to address this type of feedback as soon as possible. Not only does this show that you care, but you might also turn negative feedback into a positive one.
By asking a person what went wrong, you can also acquire some valuable insights to help you improve products and services.
7. Thank customers for their positive Google reviews
One of the biggest crimes is not thanking your fans for their feedback. Companies often stop their reputation management after receiving a positive review. Unfortunately, this is something that can easily backfire.
The fact that a person uses their free time to leave positive feedback is the exact reason why you should thank them. Make them feel appreciated, and they’ll continue buying from your business. More importantly, it’s less likely they’ll change their review into a negative one after you thank them.
8. Create an instructional video
You would be surprised to see how many people don’t leave Google reviews because they don’t know how to. This is a major missed opportunity.
To avoid this issue, you should create a video explaining the process. You can share this content on social media, via emails, or embed it on the site, close to review CTA. Creating the video shouldn’t take you too much time, and you don’t even have to appear in it.
You can also use this video to explain to people why the review is so important for your company. If you wish, you can also say a few words about your brand. However, don’t make it too long, as you don’t want to bore people and divert their attention.
Most visitors don’t even want to learn how to leave reviews as they’re worried that the process is too complicated. So, when they’re visiting your store, tell them that it’s so simple to post their feedback. If they’re still reluctant, ask them to at least leave a star rating.
9. Get reviews from various sources
When talking about online reviews, most business owners are too focused on clients. They might ask their family and friends for a helping hand, but that’s about that.
Keep in mind that any person can be a good target for your online review campaigns. This also includes partners, suppliers, financial institutions, and other stakeholders. In fact, anyone who has ever dealt with your business can be a potential review poster.
For obvious reasons, you shouldn’t use this strategy with competitors or businesses you had bad dealings with.
10. Avoid review scams
All that being said, you should avoid review scams.
While you might still benefit from certain strategies, it’s more likely that you’ll get in trouble with Google. There were numerous situations where Google completely deleted business profiles because they were using this approach. We don’t have to tell you this can be disastrous for a small local service provider.
Removing intentionally malicious reviews
Getting a bad review always stings. This is especially true if you did your best to help out a person and they still decide to bash your brand. Among others, receiving too many negative reviews can be disastrous for young entrepreneurs’ confidence.
Whatever the case may be, you need to get accustomed to these small defeats. Even if the negative review hurts your ego (which is often the case), you should get over it as soon as possible. If it seems like a review is intentionally spammy or inappropriate, you should ask Google to check it out and remove it if possible.
Some companies use this tactic to bring down other businesses. So, you should regularly check online reviews for possible patterns. Here are a few types of negative reviews that you can probably remove:
· Inappropriate language
This includes offensive text, hate speech, use of personal information, etc.
· Mature content
Mature content pertains to violence and adult content. It might also refer to profanities and obscenities.
· Regulated content
Authorities restrict the mention of various products and services. The best examples are weapons and alcohol. Reviews also can’t talk about companies’ prices or use their proprietary images. Basically, regulated content can pertain to anything illegal and potentially harmful to the general public.
· Deceptive posts
This category pertains to misinformation, fake engagement, impersonation, and in general, reviews created by people who have no connection to your brand.
· Low-quality posts
Low-quality posts are ads, spam, and incoherent or repetitive reviews.
If you’re looking for a B2B SEO agency to help you with reviews, contact MiroMind today!