In today’s digital landscape, there are countless platforms and channels for any business to manage. From setting up social media profiles to ensuring that customers can message your business through your website, a lot goes into creating a quality online presence.
But, over the years, one thing has remained steady when it comes to creating a meaningful online presence — your business’ Google reviews.
Whether you are running a car dealership or an HVAC company, Google reviews play a critical role in the success of your online presence. In this guide, we’ll look at why these reviews are imperative to your online success and how you can leverage your reviews to work for your business.
When customers need a local product or service, the majority of them will pick up their mobile devices and do a quick search on Google for that product or service. And, when they are looking for a local business, one of the top items in the search results they pay attention to is the company’s online reviews.
According to a consumer study by BrightLocal, 87% of customers read online reviews for local businesses, with the industries most affected by reviews listed as restaurants, hotels, medical, automotive, and clothing stores.
And it makes sense that customers are paying attention to these reviews. For starters, your Google reviews are one of the top things highlighted when local search results are displayed. They play a prominent role in the presentation of your local business listing.
Secondly, with customers using the internet to perform research in the earliest stages of the buying process, reviews are becoming what word of mouth once was. Customers trust that these reviews are unbiased and offer a fair representation of a business.
It is not only necessary to ensure that you have ample Google reviews for your business but also important to keep your review feed recent. The same study by BrightLocal showed that 73% of customers only paid attention to reviews written in the past month. This means that even if you have 250 positive reviews, if they were authored more than a month ago, the majority of consumers will ignore them.
With customers being so easily influenced by the content of Google reviews, it is imperative that your business has a strategy around managing this component of your online presence. And it doesn’t just stop there.
In the world of search, ranking organically for keywords related to your business is key to long-term success. And, while a lot goes into improving your organic rankings, your reviews play a role in how well you rank in local search. The following will all affect your ability to outpace your competition in organic listings:
- Keywords in reviews: When someone leaves a review, Google crawls that review and picks up on specific keywords that match searches related to your business. Google is even smart enough to pick up on trends that might seem unrelated to your company but are included in common search queries around your business. For example, if you operate a restaurant and multiple people mention your patio in their review of your restaurant, Google will actually pick up on this trend and create a keyword tag that will now be associated with your business. Later, if someone is searching for a restaurant with a patio nearby, the likelihood of your restaurant pulling up is increased. The more reviews you get from customers that incorporate keywords your business wants to be associated with, the better your chance of increasing your rankings for those related searches.
- Questions and answers: In addition to allowing customers to leave reviews on your Google business listing, customers also have the chance to ask questions. These questions and answers provide you with another opportunity to increase your organic rankings. If you answer a question later, when another user searches the same or similar question, your business will rank for that question.
- Engagement: Google itself has listed engaging with customer reviews under things you should do to increase your ability to rank locally. Every single time a customer leaves a review, whether positive or negative, you should be responding. Keeping your reviews active is not only good for boosting your rankings but also a good business practice.
You can interact with your customers and establish your brand in many ways. But reviews hold an extra power. When you respond to a review, you are not only showcasing your company’s voice and brand to that individual, but you are doing so on a public platform, which will amplify your reach.
For example, let’s say you are establishing your dealership’s brand in the local community. You have identified that your brand identity is centered around providing fair pricing and a transparent sales process with a focus on honesty.
When a customer leaves a review, whether positive or negative, your dealership has the chance to showcase those values in how you respond. By publishing an authentic review that either addresses an issue raised or sincerely thanks a customer for their business, you have an incredible chance to establish a recognizable voice and brand.
Over time, as you consistently respond to each review, keeping your brand identity at the core of your responses, you will set the tone, creating a brand that people associate with your values.
There is a wealth of information within your Google reviews. There is perhaps no better way to measure your business’ success than via your customer’s reviews. And, while there will always be over-exaggerated negative reviews, don’t discount the value of the feedback customers are providing you via Google.
Take the time each month to gather information from your recent reviews. Look for trends in both negative and positive feedback.
- What is your business doing well?
- What value do your customers feel they are getting from your business that is unique?
- What is your business struggling with?
- What common frustrations do clients share?
Reviews are a simple and fast way to capture feedback from clients with little work on your part. They can help shed light on issues you were not aware your company had, and they can help you understand your business’s unique value better than ever before.
Understanding the importance of Google reviews is the first step. The next step is to increase the number of positive reviews your business has. While increasing reviews takes time, these three steps can help you jumpstart the process:
First and foremost, you need to make sure that your Google My Business listing is up to date. Google favors businesses with complete and accurate information when matching results with search.
What information should you include in your listing?
Your listing should have your physical address, phone number, business category, and attributes. Keep your hours up to date and continually update any changes in your business hours due to holidays.
Once your listing has been completed and the information there has been double-checked for accuracy, you’ll want to create a unique URL that leads customers to your business listing. Never rely on customers to find your listing on their own when you are requesting a review.
Creating a URL for your business listing is simple.
- Sign in to your Google My Business page on a computer.
- Choose the location you’d like to create the URL for.
- Once you have landed on the right location page, click on Home and select “Get more reviews.”
- Then, click to copy the link provided.
This link will direct customers to your Google business listing, making it simple for them to leave a review. With this link, you can move on to the final step.
While it is impossible to prevent all negative reviews, there is an effective method for increasing positive reviews while handling negative experiences that customers may have had.
One of the most effective ways to do so is to build an email campaign that funnels reviews in two different directions.
Here’s how it works:
- A customer who recently made a purchase or visited your location is sent a follow-up email.
- This email asks a simple question: How was your experience?
- If the customer clicks a thumbs up, a smiley face, or some other indicator of a positive experience, they are directed to your Google business listing and prompted to leave a review (use your recently created URL here).
- If the customer clicks on the thumbs down, sad face, or other indicators of a negative experience, they are sent to an internal form where you can gather more feedback about their experience.
If you do opt to use this funnel method for increasing positive reviews, follow up with customers who fill out your internal form sharing their negative experiences. The faster you respond, the better. If you never respond or take too long to respond, that customer may only become more upset and may make their way to your Google listing to leave a negative review.
Google reviews are a powerful tool for improving your business’s online presence. Investing in a campaign that focuses on increasing positive reviews can go a long way in establishing your organic rankings for local search.
At J&L Marketing, we can help you put together a strategy that best fits your business’s current needs. Whether you are just getting started and you have little to no reviews, or your business is drowning in negative reviews, we can work with you to build a steady stream of positive reviews.
Not only that, but we can help you implement the right tactics for addressing negative reviews to even turn that feedback into a useful tool for your business.
Interested in learning more? Reach out to our team. We will be more than happy to share our experience and industry insights with you. Our goal is to help your business leverage the power of Google reviews in a meaningful way that will result in outpacing your competitors.