These days, a school’s reputation is shaped and defined by online interactions (and reviews) more than ever. So, what does that mean for your institution? In short, it underlines the importance of building and managing a strong school reputation on the internet. Cultivating a positive reputation is not only critical for attracting students, parents, and […]
People like to do business with companies they trust. Before the Digital Age, word of mouth was the primary source of trustworthy information about a business. Potential customers would ask their friends or family about their experience with the brand before buying a product or service.
In the Digital Age, potential customers gain trustworthy information from online reviews written by other customers. According to surveys, about 95% of customers consult online reviews before making purchasing decisions. More than half of customers will pay more for products with positive reviews.
While many sites offer reviews, most customers start researching a business with a Google search. Learning to manage Google reviews is a critical aspect of running a successful business.
What Are Google Reviews?
Google reviews provide customer feedback and more detail on your business and the customer experience. These reviews left by customers turn up in three primary places:
- On the business knowledge panel, which shows up on the right-hand side of the screen when someone does a Google search for your business name. The knowledge panel is linked to your Google Business Profile.
- On the list of three local businesses. The three-pack list appears when a customer searches using phrases such as “electrician near me.” The list also appears with a Google map showing the exact business location.
- On a Google Maps search. Customers will look for a business using the Google Maps app when looking for a specific physical location.
Google reviews are straightforward. When you invite a customer to submit a Google review, Google displays a form for them to use to leave reviews.
Why are Google Reviews Important?
In a nutshell, good Google reviews result in more customers. Although websites and apps like Yelp have review sites, Google reviews are among the most significant. Google is the most popular search engine, with 92 percent of Americans indicating they prefer it over others. When potential customers are researching products, Google will be a first stop.
Also, positive reviews add credibility and illustrate that the business is committed to a quality customer experience. Indeed, Google reviews benefit your business in several ways.
Reviews improve the search engine rankings of local businesses. The more Google reviews it has, the higher the company generally appears on the search engine results page. Because Google values customer opinions, positive reviews are critical in boosting your business to the top of the ranking results page.
Being at the top of the results page is critical to driving traffic to your Web site. Surveys show that 28.5 percent of searchers will click on the first organic search result, 15 percent will click on the second result, and 11 will click on the third result. The number of clicks continues to decline as the business appears farther down the search results page.
A positive review improves the online reputation of the business and instills trust. Factors such as whether a company responds quickly to unhappy customer feedback can also affect trust. According to PWC, trust is the new currency of business. More than 90 percent of customers will buy from a company they trust, and more than 88 percent will recommend a trusted company to others.
Better Customer Feedback
Reading customer reviews can help your business understand what customers value and what your customer service team can improve. You can gain insights for further improving your star level. Finally, you can receive ideas on potential new products and services to meet customer needs.
Positive reviews encourage customers to go to your webpage and make a purchase. Research shows that a local business that goes from a three-star rating to a five-star one will receive 25 percent more clicks on a local three-pack.
Businesses that buy Google ads receive a bonus benefit from positive Google business reviews. Companies can display their star ratings in ads through a program known as Google Seller Ads. Ads with seller ratings garner a 17 percent higher clickthrough rate than those that don’t.
How Can Negative Google Business Reviews Hurt Your Business?
A negative review often gives your business two stars or less. Negative reviews can harm your online reputation and cause customers to distrust your brand. A PWC survey showed that over 70 percent of customers will stop buying from a company that loses their trust. They also will stop recommending the company to their friends and family.
However, savvy consumers understand that all businesses occasionally get a bad review. Most customers will look at all your reviews. One or two poor reviews won’t necessarily hurt your business if it also has many positive reviews. Many consumers believe that a perfect customer service record is impossible. Indeed, if most reviews are positive and the business manages the negative reviews professionally, consumer trust may increase.
Of course, certain types of negative reviews can be extremely harmful, for example, those that recount incidents of sexual, gender, or racial discrimination or harassment or that allege other unethical actions from your company.
How to Manage Google Reviews and Make Them Work for You
Effectively managing Google reviews can ensure your business receives positive benefits while reducing negative impacts.
Handling Negative Reviews
Once your business receives a review, it becomes part of your Google Business Profile. However, the likely permanence of negative feedback doesn’t mean your business is helpless to manage reviews. When your business receives a negative Google review, you should respond quickly. Most potential customers expect companies to respond to negative reviews.
Your first reaction may be to become angry or defensive, especially if you own a small business. Take a breath! Then provide a calm, reasoned response. Remember that potential customers will make a purchasing decision based more on your review response than the bad review itself, especially if most of your other reviews are positive.
The best way to respond to a negative review is to reach out to the customer, thank them for their review, and express your sorrow that they did not receive the service they expected. If the circumstances causing the dissatisfaction were out of your control, say that. Sometimes, you might tell them you will discuss the situation with your employees. In other cases, you might suggest that they contact you directly. By taking the conversation offline, you may be able to resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction, turning a negative review into a positive one.
Avoid calling the customer names or implying that they are stupid. Also, avoid showing your emotions about the negative response. Always remain professional.
Google will remove reviews that violate Google policies, including
- Fake reviews
- Those with inappropriate content, such as hate speech, harassment, sexually explicit content, or personal information
- Reviews that make unsubstantiated allegations of criminal or unethical activity
- Reviews with deceptive content, such as misrepresentations of who the reviewer is
- Terrorist content or content threatening a child
Often Google will detect these reviews with its artificial intelligence tools; however, you can ask for the removal of reviews that violate policies yourself. You can request this by going to your Google Business Profile and selecting the review. You can use Google’s Review Removal tool if you have more than one location but fewer than 100. To do that, go to your Business Profile email account, choose the business name for which you want to remove the review, and click “Continue.” Then, choose “Report a New Review for Removal” and click “Continue.” You then select the review, click report, and indicate which policy the Google review violates.
If you’d prefer to deal with a person, you can contact Google’s helpline for small businesses and request that Google remove the violating review.
Google will not remove content just because your business disagrees with it, and Google’s policies forbid your business from deleting or manipulating reviews. However, a business owner or team member can engage with the reviewer, resolve the issue, and then ask the customer to delete the bad feedback and write a new review.
If your business has received several bad Google reviews and your star rating has declined significantly, you can campaign to improve your online reputation. A professional can help you remove some negative content, increase the amount of high-quality positive content, and ensure the positive content ranks high on the Google search engine results page.
Gaining More Positive Google Reviews
Another aspect of review management is convincing satisfied customers to write reviews. The more Google reviews your business has, the higher it typically ranks on a results page. Also, if you have many excellent reviews, customers will pay less attention to negative ones. Most customers will write a Google review if you ask them.
Here are some ways to encourage happy customers to write Google reviews.
Provide Link to Business Profile
One way to make writing reviews easy is to give customers a URL link to your Google Business Profile review form. Start by including the link in email signatures, your website, or a feedback card at your business. You can find the URL by going to your Business Profile manager panel and clicking on share. Then, share or copy the link.
You also can ask customers to write reviews at the point of purchase. The best time to ask for a Google review is right after a customer has enjoyed excellent customer service. Be sure to explain why reviews are important for your business and that you are asking for an honest review.
Use Reviews to Deliver a Better Customer Experience
You can encourage past positive reviewers to write new reviews by using feedback from their previous reviews to personalize their customer experience. For example, suppose they gave high marks to one product in a brand family. They might like to see offers on other products in the same family. A personalized experience assures the customer that you value their satisfaction.
Follow Up Via Email
People often write Google reviews just after receiving an email, especially if you include the link to the Google Business Profile Review Form. One of the best times to send an email is one to three days after they’ve purchased your product or service. You can test text and subject lines to discover which works best with your customers. Always include a call to action at the end.
Promote Your Good Reviews
Once you’ve collected positive reviews, you’ll want to show them off. Adding Google reviews to your website will showcase and promote them. You can put the reviews on your website without asking permission because they are already public on Google.
Adding Google reviews to your site requires technical knowledge, so some business owners will want to outsource this to a third party. For those business owners that are tech-savvy, you can add Google reviews by
- Signing up for an API key on the Google Places API page.
- Using the API key to create a URL that retrieves the reviews from your Google Business Profile.
- Using a programming language that will parse the data onto your website.
- Using a programming language or plug-in widget to customize the appearance of the reviews on your website.
- Testing everything before going live.
You also can promote your good Google reviews on your printed marketing collateral, such as posters and stickers, or in electronic newsletters.
The Bottom Line
Google reviews are critical to the success of your business. However, bad reviews don’t have to sink your business. You can learn how to manage reviews so that your business grows.