Reviews have become a standard feature on many online platforms. Some business owners see this as a great boon to separate them from the competitors, while others see it as a bane only meant to damage their business and reputation. Both of these are true, but like most online tools, the key to success it to embrace it and make it work for you. Here are 6 things to keep in mind when dealing with Google reviews.
1. Improve your GMB position
Much like every other aspect of your Google My Business account, reviews are factored into your ranking on their results page. Frequent, high quality reviews can help propel you to the top when supplemented with other GMB efforts. In addition, Google aggregates your reviews from Yelp, Facebook, and other sources, but it is widely believed that Google weighs reviews on their platform the highest. So a solid 5-star review on Google, with a ton of detail, can help balance that 1-star review on Facebook by someone who lives 3 states over.
2. Ask for reviews (but don’t incentivize them)
Sites like Yelp will tell you not to ask your customers for reviews, but that’s just plain nonsense. Google does not attribute any negative connotations with asking for reviews, but you may have to answer to the FCC if you start incentivizing them. We’ve found a simple e-mail after the bill is paid to be an effective strategy to garner reviews en masse. Don’t give a coupon. Don’t offer a shout out on your website or social media. Just ask your customer to leave a review and leave it at that.
3. Respond ASAP
The mistake people often make is not responding to a review quick enough. Generally speaking you want to get back to them within 24. If it’s a positive review, just thank them for their patronage and encourage them to tell a friend. When you get a negative review try to address their core problem directly. Don’t be apologetic, but reiterate your policy and encourage them to follow up with you via e-mail or phone. Taking the conversation out of the public eye is crucial to cultivating a positive online presence and avoids some ugly back-and-forth.
4. Address real problems
Getting a negative review isn’t ideal, but if you start to notice a trend take a step back and look at the situation. Often times, patrons are most critical when it comes to customer service and pricing. See if there are concerns that are repeated throughout your reviews. Figure out if it’s a specific person or price and if it’s something you can change. If you’re consistently getting negative reviews from different people for the same thing, it’s time to be reflective.
5. Express sincerity
Going hand-in-hand with responding quickly and addressing real problems is sincerity. When people take the time to leave a review, they don’t usually expect a response. Read the review, digest it, and give a response that comes across as sincere. Address specific concerns and thank them for any aspects they complimented. Customers will appreciate it more than you expect and you’ll begin to form a more personal relationship.
6. Know when to flag/report
One of the nicest things about reviews on Google is the ability to flag reviews for inappropriate behavior. This is a useful tool, but it’s imperative that you only use this when you’re positive the review is breaking a rule. The two most commonly broken rules are spam and advertising. If a reviewer states that they were leaving the same review on every platform then Google will likely see that as spam since they aggregate your review score. In addition, if a negative review specifically mentions one of your competitors as a better choice that’s considered advertising and has no place in a review. These are the easiest cases to spot, but there are many other scenarios including former employees, wrong location/store, and irrelevant information (car was hit in the parking lot, weather was terrible, etc.) that are usually easy to remove.
At the end of the day, reviews are meant to be a tool that helps you appeal to new and potential clientele as well as inform you of some of your shortcomings. Go in with an open mind and you can start improving your online presence as well as your physical business.
ASAPmaps was born from the offices of Epic Web Studios, a Certified Google Partner that started as a small business in Erie, PA, who has 10+ years of experience in search engine optimization. We understand the journey of transforming from a small business with a single client to a full-service digital marketing firm. Our mission is to cement the foundation of sustainable economic growth by helping small businesses just like us. Learn more at ASAPmaps.com.
Keefer Kopco is a Digital Media Strategist for Epic Web Studios and ASAPmaps. He prides himself as a review guru and will respond to as many as three dozen reviews per day for various clients. You can learn more about Keefer here.