As well as being essential ranking signals for local Bristol SEO, online Google business reviews from clients and customers can be seen as one of the most powerful ways of promoting trust and confidence in your business. To highlight this, a recent survey from Zendesk found that 90% of respondents claimed that positive reviews affected their purchasing decisions, with 86% saying negative reviews were also an influence. In other words, reviews matter when it comes to choosing between your company and your competition.
Brian Solis puts it very well when he says:
“Welcome to a new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.”
With Google dominating online search it makes sense that you put a lot of your focus into getting reviews on your Google My Business page. In this article, I want to look at why Google business reviews are so important and how to get your customers or clients to write and post them without breaking any of Google’s guidelines.
What is Google My Business and why is it Important?
Google My Business is effectively an updated version of what used to be Google Places for Business. By integrating this into the Google Plus platform, Google has allowed companies to manage the business information that appears in maps and search all in one place.
With local search results, Google will often show a series of businesses in the area in what is known as the “local pack”. It is from here that your potential customers will see things like your address, phone number and of course reviews that people have written about you. Not only do reviews help you with your click through rate but they can also help your business appear in the local pack in the first place.
Although there are a host of sites you can (and should) look to get reviews on, with the majority of search traffic coming from Google it pays to focus your energies here to begin with. Google has a ton of information on setting up and verifying your business, so if you haven’t done already you’ll need to do this. Once your business is set up on Google Plus, it’s time to start thinking about getting some reviews.
As I mentioned earlier in the article. Internet users trust and are influenced by online reviews. So having an indication of the quality of your services in Google’s search result can be a powerful way to stand out from the crowd. In Google’s Local Pack once you have received 5 reviews your result will be accompanied by 5 gold stars, these have been shown to increase click-through-rate (CTR) by as much as 20%.
These stars and an excerpt from the reviews also appear in the Knowledge Graph. Search for Superb Digital or another one of our clients who has done well in collecting reviews and you’ll see what I mean.
We have seen in certain sectors that these review stars are being left out. We’re not sure why. Search on Google for the term “removals Bristol” and you’ll see the 3 pack without any review stars. Even though at least 2 of the businesses returned have way over 5 reviews.
For the more technical amongst you, there’s also another option to consider. Structured Data. This is a standard set of code which helps you identify certain markup in a way that search engines can understand. This can help you to get reviews and stars for your products and services onto the organic search results themselves. Although don’t bother trying to get these to appear for when your homepage ranks…they won’t.
How to ask for Google My Business Reviews
It goes without saying that the most genuine and natural looking reviews are the ones that customers leave without any prompting. That’s not to say you can’t prompt someone into writing a review by asking them directly what they thought of your business and if they minded leaving a review. Far from incentivising, engaging with someone directly about their experience is actually good customer service and will often prompt a (hopefully) positive review on your Google My Business page.
Of course, there are some steps you can take to make this an easier and more likely outcome.
- Get your Timing Right
Basically, this comes down treading the line between not asking too early and not asking too late. Too early and your customer may not have got the full benefits of your product or service and may simply not have an opinion on it yet; too late and that initial sense of impressiveness you incited may have faded.
- Make it Easy to Leave Reviews
This might sound like an obvious one but it’s amazing how many businesses fail to make it at all obvious how to leave a review. Your website and social media accounts shouldn’t just be encouraging people to leave feedback but actively showing them how by linking to it (we’ll talk more about how to link directly to your Google My Business page review form in a bit).
- Integrate with your Email Marketing
If you have an email marketing campaign then you’re missing a huge opportunity by not utilising it to ask people for reviews. Ask people what they thought of your business or services and encourage them to write a review if they were impressed. You could even incorporate a call to action (CTA) on your email auto signature with a link to your Google My Review page.
Linking to your Google My Business Review Form
Many of your clients or customers are likely to be very busy people so if they’re going to take the time out of their day to write you a review you need to make it as easy for them as possible. The best way you can do this is by giving them a simple link to click on that will take them straight to your Google My Business page. There used to be a really simple way to do this but with the recent updates Google has made to Google My Business this is now slightly more convoluted.
1.Browse to maps.google.co.uk
2. Search for your business name
3. Click on your business name
4. In the box on the right-hand side click the reviews link under your company name
5. This will open a new browser window and open up your reviews
6. Now grab the URL from the address bar
7. Copy this address and paste it into an email, your clients can now click on this link and leave you a review.
Going Beyond Google
We’ve focused entirely on getting reviews on your Google My Business page in this article but that’s not to say you should ignore other review sites, just that Google should be your prime focus. There are a ton of review sites out there such as Yelp, Trust Local, Yahoo Local, Trip Advisor, Trust Link, Trust Pilot and FreeIndex to name but a few, all go a long way in helping build trust in your business, as well as supporting your local SEO efforts.
Social media is also a huge area when it comes to getting endorsements. Whilst positive reviews on social media won’t have a direct effect on your local SEO, they will build trust in your business and encourage engagement which can lead to more reviews. Platforms like Facebook and even YouTube are great for getting public endorsements, whilst LinkedIn is perfect if you are a sole trader, allowing people to endorse you for key skills (you, unfortunately, can’t leave reviews for companies or groups though).
If you rely on local search traffic to your website then you will, to a large extent, also rely on reviews. Whether we like it or not, the internet has allowed us to say what we think about any company or organisation. Whilst reviews can be a mixed bag and won’t always be entirely positive (learning how to respond to negative reviews warrants an entire article all of itself) they have become extremely important in the way they influence the purchasing and business decisions we make online every day.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community