Many digital marketers, SEOs, and business owners alike will agree that Google reviews are the most important type of review to collect in 2017 for improved search visibility, traffic, and lead generation. Below are strategies you can use as a local business owner to hopefully get more Google reviews!
Google continues to be the clear leader in search traffic, with around 2.3 million Google searches performed every second. This means the incredible potential for your business to increase online exposure and get reviews quickly.
Source: Google Search Engine Facts 2016
Also, getting Google reviews can influence the network of local ranking factors that Google’s search engine takes into account when ranking both your website’s organic listing and your Google My Business (GMB) listing within the local pack as displayed below:
Ultimately, Google looks at over 200 ranking factors to determine the ranking your website & GMB listing for what Google deems relevant search queries or keywords. These ranking factors are mainly derived when Google’s page crawling system observes your website pages’ HTML markup and the way in which your pages are linked to a Google local business profile and other sites across the web.
Through your site’s HTML, Google scans your content, the links between pages/sites, domain-level elements, website structure and navigation, user engagement factors, mobile-friendliness, and many off-site elements such as your Google business listing and review data.
In the end, Google wants to best determine which searched phrases your business’s website and web properties should rank for, to provide the most relevant, high-quality results for searchers.
Here are a few influential local ranking factors based on reviews to keep in mind:
- The number of Google reviews generated (to determine popularity)
- The frequency of reviews collected (to determine popularity)
- The latest reviews posted (to determine page activity freshness)
- Length of reviews (to determine importance)
- Keywords used in reviews (to determine relevancy)
- Referencing of number & quality of reviews on 3rd party sites like Yelp
When new reviews about your business are indexed in Google and detected by Googlebot, Google’s web crawling bot, your business may notice improvements in ranking for various locally searched keywords. The result may be more traffic to your website or Google business listing, and ultimately more leads for your business.
So how do you start generating more Google Reviews? Here are some recommendations below:
Give an Instructional Handout to Your Customer
After providing great service (hopefully! :)), try out giving your customer an easy to follow instructional handout on how to write a Google review. This handout is most effective when the following information is included:
- The business name your customer should search for in Google.com or in the Google Maps mobile app search bar, in order to write you a review.
- Where your customer can locate the “Write a review” button in Google.com or in the Google Maps mobile app by clicking on your business name and scrolling down to the reviews section of the app.
- How to then select a number of stars and post a detailed review.
- An explanation on how to sign into Google if your customer has a Google or Gmail account, and how to create a Google account if your customer does not have one. (Required to leave a Google review.)
Get into the routine of handing these out like business cards and you’ll be generating more Google reviews for your business in no time. If interaction in person isn’t possible or has already occurred with some of your satisfied customers, try sharing your handout information in an email.
Another useful way to collect Google reviews is to share a custom review link with your customers on a printed card, by email, or through text based on communication channels that you use and make the most sense for your business.
Sharing this custom link can encourage your customers to leave you a Google review by making the reviewing process easier & faster for them. They click on the link and the window for writing a review immediately opens in their browser.
For a few easy steps on how to create a link using your Place ID to share with your customers for writing you Google reviews, please see the official Google My Business support page.
Keep in mind that a link created on your mobile device that points to the Google review box will work on both desktop and mobile devices. However, a link address created on your desktop or laptop that points directly to the Google review box will not translate over to mobile devices, due to different linking structures used.
Would you like to pretty up the link you send out? One way is to use a URL shortener. Due to “goo.gl” being included in the link text, I recommend the Google URL Shortener for a link directed to write a Google review.
Another way to create a nice looking link is to create a 301 redirect in your website’s .htaccess file, in order to redirect a page or post link on your site (example: /review-us) to the actual Google review link. This is a more technical approach. However, you can make the link text more memorable and easier to type for your customers using this redirect approach.
You may discover some of your customers are more web savvy and willing to leave your business a review through shared links compared to following a step-by-step instructional handout. Based on your customer interaction, it’s up to you to determine if sharing a link or instructions will result in the best chance of your customer leaving you a review.
Leverage Review Collection Software
Another great strategy to help you collect positive Google reviews is to make use of automated review collection software. This type of software helps you capture positive reviews directly from your website visitors. Here at HONE Marketing, we offer a similar service to our clients, allowing them to take full control of their reputation management.
Here’s how it works: Your website visitors simply fill out a brief review form. Then, you get the ability to take that review input and select which site(s) you want the positive review on! Not only that, the software will pre-qualify reviewers for you with a 5-star rating system.
What if a user leaves a negative review? No problem! Any negative reviews are directed to a form that you can handle privately. Nifty right?.
Respond to All Google Reviews
Here’s a recommendation: Personally respond to each Google review you receive. This is an indirect, yet powerful long-term approach for generating more reviews. There’s always the possibility that previous customers or clients decide to do business with you again solely based on being responded to and appreciated.
You may even earn new business based on a well-written review response of yours. Responding to reviews that are both positive and negative is extremely important for maintaining and improving the credibility and reputation of your business online.
Here’s an important point to note: Your Google My Business listing must be user-verified in order for you to respond to Google reviews. This requirement helps prevent anonymous users from posting fake reviews.
Please see the second link in the YouTube description box below for the official Google My Business support page on responding to reviews. This page provides several useful tips for responding to customers, and steps for replying to reviews for each individual business location/page you manage within your Google account.
Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Your Google My Business listing acts as your digital storefront seen by searchers through Google Maps and in the Knowledge Graph within Google’s search engine for relevant search queries. Your listing should reflect your business as accurately as possible. Your Google My Business listing is also tied to local website SEO. The completeness of your listing may affect your site’s ability to rank locally in search results and in Google maps for related local keywords. Complete and up-to-date business information makes sure your clients or customers find your business in the right location, at the right time, and for the right reason.
Verify that your chosen category and subcategories are most relevant to your business. Upload photos of your business, staff, and services to engage visual-oriented users and to really make sure visitors of your listing understand your business quickly and easily.
If you own a business or businesses at multiple locations, Google recommends verifying a new Google My Business listing for each physical address. In the end, a complete and active Google listing stands out much better to your target customer or client than the majority of neglected listings out there.
Having a memorable Google listing may motivate previous customers or clients of yours to leave a late review if they come across your listing in their local searches. Might as well take advantage of this possibility!
When in Doubt, Ask for a Different Review
Now I know this post is supposed to be about getting Google reviews. However, if a customer or client of yours is interested in leaving you a review without having to create or sign into Google, or is more comfortable with Facebook or Yelp, by all means, accept their review.
You never know if reviews on other sites like Facebook or Yelp will become more popular in the future due to features like voice searching, and stronger ranking factors in the eyes of Google.
If no account-requiring platforms are an option for your customer or client, ask for an in-person written review if possible or an emailed review that you can place in the testimonial section of your website.
I hope you found this information useful in your online marketing endeavors. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Here’s to many more Google reviews!