Google reviews are crucial for getting discovered in search results and building trust with potential customers. In this guide, we’ll break down how you can get Google reviews, manage and respond to them and use the power of social proof to grow revenue.
Chapter 1: Google reviews explained
Here’s why Google reviews matter for your business.
Why Google reviews are important
Google is by far the most popular search engine in the world. In fact, the tech giant currently holds over 90% of the search engine market share – making it the first stop for customers when reading and submitting reviews. So, if you want to target the majority of your customer base, you need to focus on getting Google reviews.
These days, potential customers are more likely than ever to consult online reviews before making a purchase. In fact, studies show that 93% of customers read online reviews before buying a product or service. Online reviews provide customers with important information about the value of your products and services.
But what many people don’t realize is that online reviews can also have a big impact on a business’s bottom line in other ways. Here’s how.
Google reviews help your search ranking so you get found online
Google reviews help you rank higher in search results in three different ways.
- Google trusts your customers
Google sees the reviews your customers give you as a testament to the quality of the products or services you offer. The more positive reviews you have, the higher Google will place you in search results when your customers do relevant searches.
- Google gives users the best information on the search topic Google also aims to give searchers relevant information. When a customer review contains relevant keywords about your business (“Awesome estate planning!”), it will help Google better understand the kinds of services that you provide. According to Moz, review signals make up 15.44% of your local search ranking.
- The more reviews, the higher you rank on Google Overall star rating alone doesn’t determine your search ranking. A high overall star rating shows that customers value your business, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. For instance, a business can have an overall rating of 5 stars, but only 3 reviews. That’s not a very big sample size, so it’s hard to tell if this business actually is providing great services or if those 3 reviewers are just outliers.
That’s why it is so important to continuously add more reviews. Remember, Google uses reviews to understand the quality of your services. The more reviews you have, the higher likelihood that your overall rating is an accurate depiction of your customer experience.
How Google reviews impact click-through rates on local search results
If Google users search for something like “dental practice near me”, they’ll see something that looks like this.
This is the local map pack. Businesses with a higher overall star rating tend to see up to a 35% higher click-through rate within these results. That means more traffic from your website and more attention from potential customers.
The local map pack shares data with the Google Maps app. When customers are looking for directions for local businesses, they’ll see the same information.
Google reviews appear in Google Maps
The top three listings in the Google local map pack are a coveted position. By taking the right steps, you can increase your chances of getting discovered in these results. Here are three tips to help you get started.
- Ensure your Google Business Profile information is up-to-date and accurate
- Ensure your Google Business Profile location information and content details (including name, address, and phone number) are consistent across all other sources including listings sites like Facebook and your own website
- Have up-to-date reviews with timely responses from your team
Want to learn how to set up your Google Business Profile account and get more reviews? We’ll share some more tips and tricks later in the article.
Chapter 2: How to get more Google reviews
Let’s talk about how you can get more Google reviews for your business.
How to leave a Google review (step-by-step process)
Before we dive into tips on collecting more Google reviews for your business, let’s go through the process of how customers can leave reviews from a desktop or mobile device.
Step 1 Find your Google Business Profile. Usually, your customer will need to type in your business’s name and the city that you’re located in into the Google search bar.
Step 2 Next, click the “Write a Review” button on the bottom right side of the screen.
Step 3 A pop-up titled “Rate and Review” will show up on your screen. Leave a star rating, a description, and a photo (the description and photo are optional).
Step 4 Click “Post”.
Step 2 Type the business name in your search bar.
Step 3 Click on the business, then click on the tab labeled “Reviews”.
Step 4 Add a star rating in the section labeled “Rate & Review”, then leave a description (optional).
Step 5 Click the “Post” button.
Software like Birdeye can reduce these steps for your customers. Birdeye uses deep-linking to take customers right to your Google Business Profile, ensuring that you get more reviews.
How can I get Google reviews for my business?
Want to get started collecting more reviews for your business? Follow these three tips for the best results.
Timing is everything.
Make sure that you send review requests to your customers on the same day as their purchase. The longer you wait, the more the customer’s memory fades and the less likely they are to leave a review.
Keep it simple.
Your customers are busy people who lead busy lives. If the process of leaving a review requires too many steps, they probably won’t do it. That’s why businesses that ask for reviews in-person typically don’t see results. Most customers happily agree, then forget about it as soon as they walk out the front door. Luckily, there’s an easier way: sending review requests through email and SMS. All your customers have to do is click a link and leave a review.
Empower your employees.
If your employees are spending face-to-face time with customers, allow them to send review requests via text and email. If customers have a personal relationship with the employee, they may be more inclined to leave a review.
3 things to avoid at all costs
Some businesses resort to the following tactics to collect reviews. We strongly recommend that you avoid them at all costs. Doing any of the following will lead to a penalty in your search rankings and may even cause your business to be de-indexed from Google entirely.
Do not provide incentives
Providing incentives to customers for reviews is against Google’s policies. Google believes that incentives bias your reviewers and prevent them from giving honest depictions of their experiences. If you’re discovered doing this, you will be penalized in your search rankings.
Don’t gate your reviews
Avoid review gating — the practice of selectively soliciting reviews from customers who you’re absolutely sure will leave a positive review. Not only is this against Google’s policy, but this strategy might also just end up hurting your online reputation. When you’re being this selective, you might miss out on asking customers who would be happy to leave a good review.
Don’t ask employees to leave reviews
Don’t ask for reviews from current or former employees. According to Google, these reviews are likely to be biased and do not represent the true customer experience.
How do you politely ask for a review?
Wondering how you can solicit reviews from your customers? Here’s an email template that you can use.
Subject Line: How Was Your Experience?
Thank you for choosing us! Please take a moment to leave us a review. Your responses will help us better serve customers like you in the future.
Here’s a template that you can use for sending review requests via text. We’ve found that keeping it short and sweet usually gets the best results.
Hi [Customer Name], please provide your feedback by clicking the link. Thanks!
Of course, you want to make sure that both of these review requests include a short link to your Google Business Profile. Remember, the easier the process is for customers, the more reviews you’ll get.
‘Google Business Profile’ explained
In order to get Google reviews, you’ll need to claim your Google Business Profile. Your Business Profile will show up when someone searches for your business’s name on search engines. It looks something like this:
There’s one big reason why your Google Business Profile matters: SEO. Google My Business is crucial for getting your business discovered by new customers. According to Moz, the Google Business Profle is the single largest factor determining your business’s local search ranking.
Corporate knowledge panel
If your business is a corporation with a number of locations, you may see a Corporate Knowledge Panel for your business. This should be claimed and managed by your corporate marketing and brand teams. This panel does not include Google Reviews. It looks something like this:
In addition to the Corporate Knowledge Panel, each of your individual business locations will be able to operate and manage a local knowledge panel tied to a Google Business Profile account.
At the corporate level, it’s important to ensure these multi-location Google Business Profile accounts are set up with consistency and strict guidelines for management. Local location managers should be empowered to ask for and respond to the reviews for their location and should partner with the corporate team to ensure that their location’s Business Profile account is in tip-top shape.
How to start getting more Google reviews
The more you optimize your Google Business Pprofile, the better your chances of ranking high in search results. This, in turn, helps you get more organic reviews from customers. So let’s talk about how you can optimize your Google My Business.
Step 1: Claiming Your Business Profile
If your business has been around long enough, you can find your listing with a simple company name search. Once you find it, all you need to do is claim the profile. Check out our guide on setting up/claiming your Google Business Profile for more details.
Step 2: Updating Your Business Information
Now that your Google Business Profile account has been claimed, you can start adding information to your profile that will help more customers discover your business. You can optimize your profile to make it more appealing to prospects and customers and get more reviews. For more information on this, check out our complete guide to the Google Business Profile.
How to shorten your Google My Business URL
Google allows businesses to create their own custom short URL for their Google Business Profile. Having a custom short URL makes it easier to share your business profile on review requests, in-person, and on marketing materials. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get a custom short link to your Google Business Profile.
Step 1 – Sign in to your Google Business Profile.
Step 2 – If you have a multi-location business, open the location you wish to create a short name for.
Step 3 – Step 3 – From the menu on the left, click Info > Add profile short name. If this feature is available, you should see this in the box under “phone number”.
Step 4 – Enter your short name. Your short name can be anywhere between 5-32 characters.
Step 5 – Click Apply. Your short name will show as pending. It will show on your business profile when it’s approved.
Now, let’s take some time to answer a couple of common questions about collecting Google reviews.
How to automate getting Google reviews
Your team is already swamped with different projects. Sending review requests to all your customers manually at the end of every business day can be a time-consuming process. It’s a lot of work to add on for your employees.
Experience Marketing software can take care of the whole process for you. Birdeye, for example, uses deep-linking to route customers directly to the Google review form in a single click. This makes the process of writing a review even easier than not writing one — especially when the customer is happy with their experience and likes your business. Birdeye takes care of this process for Google and over 150 other review sites.
Birdeye is fully integrated with Google, so every step of the review collection process is automatic. In fact, Birdeye is one of the few companies integrated directly with Google’s private API, which makes the collection process easier and review load times faster.
Chapter 3: Manage Google reviews
The story isn’t over when you get new Google reviews. Let’s talk about how you can manage your reviews and make a great first impression on potential customers.
How to respond to Google reviews
Customers are investing their time when they sit down to leave a review. It’s only fair that you acknowledge that effort by responding to these reviews in a timely manner.
Plus, Google review profiles with responses from the business tend to rank higher, and customers see it as a sign of trust. Proactive and professionally responding to negative reviews can be a great way to understand issues in customer experience and take immediate action. Let’s go through a few tips for responding to Google reviews.
- 1. Sign in to your Google My Business account at business.google.com
- 2. Click the three bars on the left-hand corner and select the location
- 3. Click “Manage reviews”, then find the review you want to respond to
- 4. Click “View and reply”, then type out a response.
For tips on responding to positive and negative reviews, check out our blog on responding to Google reviews.
How should businesses reply to positive reviews?
Here are a few tips for responding to Google reviews from happy customers.
Thank the customer for leaving feedback
A simple “Thanks for the kind words!” can go a long way. It’s an easy way to show your appreciation to loyal customers.
Encourage the customer to return
Let the customer know that you’d be happy to serve them again. This can motivate them to make repeat purchases.
Keep your response short
There’s no need to leave an essay here. Remember that customers don’t want to read long paragraphs anymore than you do.
How should a business reply to a negative review?
Responding to customers who are angry and frustrated is slightly trickier than thanking someone for leaving feedback. Still, a genuine, well-crafted, considerate response can motivate these customers to edit or delete their original review.
Take a deep breath
It’s important to remain objective and not get emotional in your review response. Even if all you do is ask them to contact you via phone, it’s better than getting drawn into an argument.
Try to respond within the first 24 hours. If you wait too long to respond to a negative review, it might be too late to change the customer’s opinion.
Leave contact details
Take the conversation offline whenever possible. Not only does it speed up the resolution process, it also leaves potential customers with the impression that the problem was handled. Be sure to provide a phone number or an email address where the customer can contact you.
How to delete Google reviews
While you can’t delete a review, you can report it if you believe it wasn’t written by one of your customers:
Still, it’s important to remember that there’s no guarantee that Google will actually delete the review. If you see a review that you believe is fake, we recommend leaving a strong but polite response.
Frequently asked questions
Google sends email alerts when you get new reviews. The email notification shows you the name of the reviewer, the star rating, and a short snippet from the review. It also includes a link directly to the review so you can leave a response.
While a 4.0 overall star rating is definitely not bad, there’s a little bit of room for improvement. Studies show that customers are more likely to trust businesses that have reviews that are in the 4.2-4.9 range.
However, an overall star rating that’s too high is not great for your business either. If customers see a perfect 5.0-star rating, they’re going to have some doubts about whether all of your reviews are legitimate.
There are various reasons why your Google reviews might disappear, such as inaccurate listing information, duplicate business listings, inactive listings, issues with the review, etc. The first thing that you should consider doing is refreshing your Google Business Profile (GBP, formerly GMB).
It is said that businesses need at least 5 reviews to show up on search, however, we’ve seen businesses with just 1-2 reviews show up on search.
Yes, when you get a great Google review, you can promote it through Google’s Marketing Kit. This is a service that Google offers that allows you to print great reviews into stickers and posters.
Yes. Google encourages businesses to solicit reviews from customers. Since these reviews are already publicly posted, you don’t need to ask the reviewer for permission.
No. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Review Fairness Act it is illegal to buy reviews for your business. Paying for Google reviews or giving incentives for writing reviews is against Google’s policy.
No. Trying to stop your customers from writing reviews is considered “review gating”. Remember, a few negative reviews can help your business, as they prove that all of your reviews are authentic.
Remember, a few negative reviews with timely and professional responses can help your business, as it proves that all of your reviews are authentic and highlights your dedication to customer service.
Yes. You can share your Google reviews on your website and social media. Since these reviews are already publicly-posted, you don’t need to ask the reviewer for permission.
No. There is no way that a business owner can delete Google reviews. We’ll go into more detail about this later in the article.
Unlike Facebook reviews, Google reviews cannot be turned off. There is no way that business owners can hide reviews from the public. Every Google My Business profile displays customer reviews. If you’re getting hit by negative reviews, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage to your business’s reputation. First off, respond to people who are leaving negative reviews and try to get to the bottom of the issue. Next, send review requests to all of your customers. After all, the customers who are most likely to leave reviews on their own are those who feel that they’ve had strong negative experiences. Soliciting reviews ensures that you’ll get balanced feedback that’s more representative of your customer base as a whole.
If your business gets a review that you feel might be fake, it can be tempting to try to trace the IP address. However, there is no way that you can trace a Google review. If you feel that you’re dealing with a fake review, consider taking the actions listed in the next section instead.
It is no longer possible to write a Google review without a Google account. Before 2018, it was possible to leave an anonymous review. However, the policy led to understandable frustration among business owners. There was no way to tell if an anonymous review came from an actual customer or a competitor who was playing dirty. Google has taken strides in the past few years to ensure that the reviews posted on its platform are representative of actual customer experiences. Judging by how much Google reviews are valued by customers, the efforts have paid off.
Manage your Google reviews with Birdeye
Whether your business is lacking an online presence or if you have so many Google reviews, you don’t know how to manage them. Birdeye is here to help.
Birdeye gives you the experience marketing tools to automatically send review requests, manage and respond to reviews from across the internet and drive growth.
Now we tried to be as comprehensive as possible when writing this guide, but unfortunately, we just couldn’t fit every strategy for collecting and managing Google reviews into this limited space. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, download our No-Nonsense Guide to Collecting Reviews. It includes 5 additional foolproof tips to collect more reviews from your customers.