Founder and CEO of GrowME Marketing, a full-service digital marketing and SEO company serving clients across the country.
In business and life, your reputation precedes you. Your reputation sets a precedent for your relationships and the way people perceive you or your business. When it comes to managing your company’s reputation, Google reviews are one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.
At my company, Google reviews have become a renewed focus for my team. I’ve even set up an internal competition to incentivize my team to get more reviews this year. But why are they important? And how can you use them to your benefit? Let’s discuss.
The Importance Of Reviews
I strongly believe in the power of Google reviews; even a handful of positive ratings can help your business in ways a traditional marketing campaign cannot. Some of my clients are surprised to learn that Google reviews can make a significant impact, but the numbers don’t lie. According to BrightLocal, 87% of the consumers surveyed read online reviews for local businesses in 2020. In the era of fake news, more and more consumers are flocking to sources they can trust, and for a whopping 87%, that means online reviews written by people just like them. So, what are they looking for when they get there?
• Quantity: There’s no magic number because it often depends on the industry, but generally, the more reviews you have, the more attractive your business becomes. Plus it’s a great SEO play. Favored by Google’s algorithm, review quantity and diversity account for 15.44% of what it takes to appear in the local map pack.
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• Quality: Of course, consumers don’t just care about the number of reviews you have. If your business has 72 reviews, but 35 of them are three-star or below, they could be working against you.
The Power Of Positivity
According to BrightLocal, 94% of those surveyed said that “positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.” But why is that? For most people, purchasing is an emotional decision, and they need something to connect with emotionally during the journey. Yes, that’s what engaging ad text and persuasive headlines are for, but there’s no substitute for “been there, done that.” Positive online reviews can be crucial for establishing credibility and building trust with your customers, not to mention helping your rankings.
The Negativity Virus
In the same way that one person’s poor mood can sour an entire party, it only takes one negative review to bring down your beautiful five-star rating. BrightLocal found that more than half of the consumers surveyed won’t even consider a business with fewer than four stars, and Google has made it very easy for customers to pick and choose — an increasing number of people admit to using the rating filter on Google maps when searching for local businesses. Negative reviews can drive away otherwise interested customers, lower your rankings and bring down the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.
Responding To Reviews
Responding to all reviews, good or bad, appropriately and professionally is a vital part of your marketing strategy. Replying to a positive review and maintaining communication with your clients is an excellent way to ensure they’ll become repeat customers and refer their friends.
We’ve talked about how negative reviews can impact your business reputation, but a well-thought-out and positive response to a negative review can help negate the damage it can do. You might even change the mind of the reviewer.
If your business gets lots of reviews, responding to each one can seem like a daunting task. Creating a template for how and when to respond to reviews will simplify the process.
How To Get More Reviews
• Provide exceptional service. The simplest truth is that good work gets good reviews. If you’re outperforming your competitors, genuinely caring for your clients, and going above and beyond, customers will take note. Positive experiences and happy customers leave reviews — it’s that simple.
• Ask your customers. Of course, not every happy customer will think to leave a review; they may need additional encouragement. Meeting with your clients in person and asking them to review your business is the gold standard, though emails and phone calls can be just as effective. I mentioned I’m running an internal competition for my team. What does this look like? Anytime someone on my team communicates with a client and follows up on work we’ve completed, they’re encouraged to ask the client to leave us a review about their experience. We send them the review link to make it as easy as possible. Every request and resulting review is tracked, and points are awarded to the team member who reached out. Before this competition, we provided our clients with great services, and we’d often get emails thanking us for our work. But by being proactive and directing clients where to leave feedback, we’ve seen our review number skyrocket.
• Host a giveaway. Offering money in exchange for reviews is against Google’s policies, but I recommend a giveaway promotion. This can take several different forms. Some businesses may choose to offer a draw for a gift card with a higher amount, and others may prefer to offer a small gift card to everyone who leaves a review. While it’s not necessarily effective as a long-term strategy, I often recommend this method for new businesses with little to no reviews so far. As with asking for reviews, providing a link and making it as easy as possible for the customer is vital.
The numbers don’t lie — not only is it clear that customers care about positive reviews, but they’re also important for local SEO as Google often rewards businesses with more high-rating reviews over those with fewer or lower ratings. Generating more reviews is as easy as providing outstanding service and simply asking for them. Consider adding review management to your list of priorities for 2022.