Google reviews are how people are finding out whether a local baker or a pet grooming service is good enough. This is exactly what the search engine giant had in mind when rolling out Google reviews in 2007.
While introducing the service, Jonathan Goldman, a software engineer for Google Maps wrote that they were placing the user at the centre of everything. The Google search engine used to just collect reviews from other sources. According to Jonathan's vision, there would now be one important difference.
“[Google Maps reviews will] augment those with reviews from an even better source: you — and, we hope, millions of other opinionated Google users.”
In the era of COVID-19, these crowdsourced insights about businesses and brands have become even more important to consumers. For example, customers are predictably reluctant to venture far from their homes. They are looking for businesses in their vicinity.
While they may go online to buy their next smartphone or stream a movie, they are increasingly looking at services near their residence to avoid the hassle and minimise the risk.
In other words, more and more people are looking for trusted local businesses. That’s where Google reviews come into play.
Google reviews collect consumer’s opinions of products and services. So, if you search for an auto mechanic — which is a local business — Google will produce results that depend on how close you are to the service and how others have rated it.
Whether you search on Google or Google Maps, you will get the same local businesses ranked on proximity and user-ratings.
Technically, Google reviews play a key role in SEO. To put it simply, as more and more people like your business or service, the search engine will start showing you among the top results.
Google reviews are something you have to take seriously. They are popular because a Google review is authentic, not just marketing-speak from a business.
It’s not a business owner saying how much they value quality or how friendly their services are. It’s other consumers sharing real-life experiences. And consumers tend to believe other consumers above and beyond any type of marketing.
As a local business, you don’t have the budget to run advertising campaigns. You can’t put up billboards everywhere or release newspaper ads. Even if you do, their effectiveness can’t be tracked.
Perhaps you could run digital ads, but first, you should ask yourself this: What comes up when people search for my business? A digital campaign is useless without a solid, reputable and verifiable digital presence. This is where Google reviews come in.
If people love your salon and it starts getting favourable reviews on Google, the next time someone in your vicinity searches for salon services, you will be among the top search results.
Why is it important? Because up to 90 percent of people use online search to find local businesses. That’s how you will be found and assessed.
Even if you have a Facebook Page for your business, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of Google reviews. It's not a case of Google vs Facebook, but the combined power of both. Chances are, one of the two is where people go first to search for your service.
The first thing you have to do is claim your Google My Business profile. It’s free and exceptionally easy to use.
It’s important to provide all the necessary information on your Google My Business profile. Ensure that your phone numbers, email id, and address are correct. Also, make sure that they are consistent across listings on other services or your website.
Add photos, videos, and include a brief description of what you do. Don’t forget to add your business hours and other relevant information.
Remember, you have to claim and get it verified. It’s a simple process that will make your business seem authentic. In other words, both the search engine and its users will know who they are referring to.
Once you have set up your Google My Business profile, you need to work on getting more reviews. The easiest way to do it is by asking your customers to review you.
You can reach them through email, and social media with a link, or even phone them to leave a review. They will be able to do it either via their browser or through Google Maps.
Tell your customers that as a local business, goodwill is what will help you grow. Convey that it’s easy and won’t take more than a minute.
If you have a website, you should have a link that will take your visitors to Google review. Importantly, once your customers review you, make sure that you thank them. will create a virtuous cycle of even more reviews! We've put together a list of templates for responding to Google reviews for any business owners who are unsure about how to strike the right tone.
If you feel that you are not a digital marketer and all this sounds complicated, there is good news. These days you can use apps that make it amazingly easy to request and respond to reviews from customers.
Like with everything online, there are unscrupulous ways to get more reviews — such as buying them. You can get paid reviews through companies that would have never been anywhere near your business.
But, obviously, you shouldn’t buy Google reviews.
Among the many reasons, the most significant one is that it’s illegal. You cannot use undisclosed paid endorsements. Buying Google reviews is precisely that and if caught, you will be heavily fined. If that doesn't convince you, this article will.
Go to your Google My Business profile and click on the three horizontal bars on the left-top corner. You will be able to see and manage your reviews from there.
As a local business, you should regularly see your reviews. This will give you an opportunity to thank your customers and spot problems.
If it’s a favourable review, you should thank the customer. If it’s someone who is critical of the service, thank them for bringing it to your attention and convey that you are working on the problem. Reach out to the most-critical reviewers first.
In some cases, people could offer suggestions. Again, thank them, and get back to them if you incorporate those.
Google reviews cannot be anonymous. It’s easy to know who has written your review. So, when you thank them, mention them by name.
As Google reviews become popular so are fake reviews from spammers, bots, and liars. Some of it could even be triggered by your competitors.
Fortunately, Google is aware of the problem. Although you can’t delete it, the search engine has made it easy to take remedial action.
If you spot a demonstrably fake review on the “Reviews” section of your Google My Business, click on the three dots and then click on “Flag as inappropriate.”
You will get a popup window that has “Report Review” written on it. Click on “Continue.”
Now you will get another popup window asking, “What’s wrong with this review?” You can choose one of the reasons listed in it and click on “Report.”
For a more detailed walkthrough of handling fake google reviews, check out our handy guide.
Yes, by going to their Google Maps and “Your contributions,” customers can edit or delete their reviews.
This is one more reason to constructively respond to Google reviews. If you can solve a problem and get back to the customer, you could request them to even edit their negative review. Just make sure you know how to do this tactfully first.
With Google reviews, you can focus on what you are good at and watch your business grow. It’s an organic way to grow your customer base. With a bit of consistent effort, you can easily make it work for you.
Here's how to use review responses to show the world how friendly, responsive, and helpful your small business is.
If you’ve been on the receiving end of fake, malicious Google reviews and are wondering how to delete them, read on.