Google is a major source of the traffic to local businesses through its Search and Maps platforms, meaning that customer reviews posted on Google can be seen widely and impact the success of a business. Savvy entrepreneurs can take advantage of Google My Business to encourage and respond to reviews.
How Are Google Reviews Seen
People who use Google Search and Maps can view reviews posted by others and post their own. High-ranked reviews are a significant factor used by customers to choose whether to try new services, and local businesses are especially dependent on getting good publicity. A small number of reviews can have a huge impact.
A location may already be on Google and gathering reviews without the owner’s knowledge, but it’s easy to gain control over the platform through Google My Business.
Getting on Google My Business
A business owner can go to Google My Business to set up and verify their business. Alternatively, they can go to Google Maps and enter their address to identify it as their business. Locations that serve the public can choose to have their location listed on Maps, otherwise, they can indicate that the location serves an area with delivery and home services and choose the location.
After verifying by mail, phone, or email, you control your business’s profile on Google and can supply information about the services you provide, operating hours, and more. It can also be used to create informative posts and automated responses for customers.
How to Encourage Reviews
Companies that have their own websites and social media pages can use them to direct satisfied customers to Google to post their reviews. Paid and fraudulent reviews can be removed and may cost the business their privileges on Google My Business,
so it’s essential to avoid doing anything to create reviews that are not from genuine customers. However, putting a link to your business’s profile on Google is a good way to guide people to write reviews.
Businesses first need to get a short link from Google by going to My Business and picking a name that is available for use. Once it’s set up, you can use it as a short URL for that location and get a link that customers can follow to post ratings and reviews. Reminding customers that their reviews are helpful and appreciated can increase the number of positive reviews quickly.
Monitoring and Responding to Reviews
Verified businesses can read and respond to reviews posted on Google. It’s important to note that Google may display reviews from other platforms such as Expedia, and businesses can’t respond to these through Google. Reviews directly posted to Google will be indicated and businesses can respond by clicking the Reviews tab in Google My Business, or Manage Reviews if they have multiple locations.
The reviewer is notified when they receive responses, and they are also publicly visible, so it’s important to approach responses sensitively and think about how they will appear to the customer and the public. A timely response is also valued highly since it shows that the business takes their reviews seriously and encourages future reviewers by assuring them that their voice will be heard.
Responding to positive reviews with a quick and personal thank you is a good practice since it shows the relationship between customers and the business. Negative reviews should always be addressed in some way. There is room to disagree with negative reviews without being confrontational.
If their issues were true, acknowledge them but explain what circumstances caused them and why they are not a typical experience. If they have misleading information, you can use the opportunity to talk about the features of the business that weren’t mentioned.
Engaging with customer reviews and building a reputation for transparency on Google can lead to greater trust from customers who can see the personal attention that is paid to reviews.
It can also make potential customers more likely to take a chance on trying the business for the first time. A professional strategy for encouraging and addressing Google reviews can build customer relationships at a low cost.