Online reviews written by real people are more likely to influence a shopper’s buying decisions than anything your company says about itself on its website.
There is no doubt that regular, consistent and authentic online reviews from customers can increase your visibility in searches, build trust and confidence in new customers, and help users pick between your business and competitors.
So together, let’s find out how to receive more reviews on Google.
First of all, where do Google reviews appear?
Google My Business is the new version of Google Places where companies can manage all of their business information that appears in Google searches. When you search for a business on Google (for example: “pancakes Vancouver”) you’ll notice a box with suggestions appears at the top. This is called a “local pack.” This “local pack” loads suggested places in Vancouver for you to get pancakes and its based on volume and quality of reviews. So, the more (and better) the reviews you have, the more likely your business is to come up first in search results.
These “local packs” also display information about a business, like hours of operation, location, and key characteristics.
So, now we know where we want our reviews (and therefore, our company) appearing. Now, let’s find out how to get more reviews to bring (or keep) our business at the top of search results.
How do you get more Google Reviews?
Google calls its reviewers “local guides” and participants can win rewards and level up. By making a game out reviewing and promising prizes in exchange, users are more likely to participate. Thus, it is likely that your company has already received a review or two.
In the past, Google would only list a company’s rating if it had a minimum of five reviews, which were then averaged out. Google has recently changed this and will now list an average score even if there are less reviews.
With that being said, let’s cover the basics of obtaining more reviews.
1. Make the process to leave a review simple.
Google allows you to create a link which leads customers to a page where they can leave a review. Simply follow these steps:
- You’ll need to grab your PlaceID, which can be found here by searching your business.
Ours is: Place ID ChIJ7ffSU8sKhlQR3-ZnhYn9FSA
- Add the PlaceID to the following URL: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id>
Ours looks like this: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJ7ffSU8sKhlQR3-ZnhYn9FSA
- Then use a link shortener to have it look more user-friendly, like so: http://bit.ly/2pKUMfi
- Now, when customers click on the link it will bring them to Google and a box will appear where they can rate your business and leave a review.
The process to get this link is super simple and now you can provide the link to customers.
2. Ask for one.
You’d be surprised how many businesses simply don’t think of asking for a review. And if you don’t ask, you likely won’t receive! Reviews should be kept top of mind for a company and this should be communicated to all employees, especially those with customer-facing roles. This way, happy customers can be followed up with.
3. Get your timing right.
Did one of your customer’s have a great experience with you or an employee? At the end of the transaction, it may be appropriate to ask if they would like to leave your business a review.
Never ask a disgruntled customer for a review (for obvious reasons). You might even want to think twice about asking a customer who is mediocrely satified for a review—would you rather receive a three or five star rating?
4. Integrate asking for reviews into your email marketing.
Your newsletter is an excellent place to ask for reviews because you can target old and new customers in a direct way. At the end of each monthly newsletter, you can add your review link or you can send out an email specifically asking customers to share their experience with your company.
5. Personalize the way you ask.
On that note, while it’s convenient to send a general email to your entire mailing list, you should also consider taking time out of your day to email long-time customers personally. Receiving an exclusive email from the owner of a company or its marketing manager humanizes your brand and a customer may be more likely to leave a review if they’re asked directly.
6. Leave it in your email signature.
Adding a simple call to action in your email signature is a low-effort way of collecting reviews. Just think about how many emails your employees send each month. This passive method works well with some customers because they don’t feel pressured to respond and they can take as much time as they need to complete the review.
7. Get social.
If your customers are following you on social media, you can make a post announcing your intentions. Try to catch your audience’s attention with a conspicuous graphic and make sure to include the review link to make the process as easy as possible.
8. Offer an incentive.
You may way to incentivize your approach to receive reviews. Whatever you choose, keep it tasteful and authentic. Think of doing a monthly draw for a gift card or a blog feature, rather than giving each reviewer their own prize. Make sure to emphasize that it’s an exchange for an honest review of any kind, good or bad.
Full disclaimer: it is against the Google My Business review policy to solicit reviews from customers by offering incentives. If you feel that a minor contest will drive more Google reviews, proceed at your own risk. It may result in reviews being removed.
9. Respond to reviews.
Graciously replying to customer’s reviews shows them that someone is actually reading their feedback and taking it into consideration. You’ll also get to learn more about your customers and their needs this way.
So, what have we learned?
Online reviews are super helpful because they…
- Bolster your local search performance
- Increase your reputation
- Help you understand your customers better
With whatever approach you take, be timely, authentic, and humble. There’s always something you can learn from every review.
Also, as a major search engine, Google is a good place to start when seeking reviews. However, there are tons of other review sites (Yelp, Facebook, Yellow Pages, and Better Business Bureau to name a few) to keep in mind.
Happy review collecting!
Do you have any techniques when it comes to getting more Google reviews? Please share them in the comments below.