Let’s take Dr. Dennis Brender DDS as an example of how powerful Google reviews can be.
After 3 decades of providing expert dental care to satisfied patients, he was ready to retire and sell his practice. However, finding interested buyers proved to be difficult since he was ranking below all other local dentists in online search results. Dr. Brender was seeing a mere 8 to 12 new patients a month -- only half of what a practice his size needs to survive.
He had two options left–sell his practice on the decline for a very low price or improve his practice’s reputation so the next owner could have a strong start.
Despite never advertising in his 30 years of practice, Dr. Brender decided to take charge of his reputation, starting with his Google reviews. His proactive efforts paid off. In just over a year, Dr. Brender was able to increase review volume by a whopping 739%. Since most of his patients were thrilled with his practice, his average rating increased from 4.6 to 4.9.
All these reviews made Dr. Brender stand out as the obvious best choice to both patients and interested buyers. Five bids were lined up by the time he sold his practice for 100% of his original asking price, with bank funding at 110% to help the new owner start off strong. At the time he sold, he was seeing more than 20 new patients a month.
As we learned from Dr. Brender’s story of success, Google reviews can make or break a business. Why?
The short answer is because everyone starts their online search with Google. Don’t you?
The proof is in the numbers.
Here’s the short answer: you can’t collect reviews on Google if you haven’t claimed your Google My Business profile.
Google My Business is a platform where businesses can manage all the information that shows up alongside their listings in Google Maps and search results. Let’s look at Dr. Brender’s practice again:
Why is it important to manage this information? It’s actually simple: it teaches Google about your business. When consumers search for something, Google scours countless pieces of information to find the combinations that most accurately represent a fulfilling answer to that specific search query. Only 2% of customers venture past the first page of Google’s search results.
How does Google decide what businesses to feature in its results? By evaluating the information displayed alongside each business: address, phone number, and most importantly, Google reviews. The more detailed information you provide, the greater the likelihood of Google matching you up with a customer looking for your products or services -- and reviews are debatably the most detailed information you can get. They’re authentic descriptions of personal experiences, after all.
It’s important to get reviews on a variety of sites, but since most search traffic comes from Google, directing your efforts here should definitely pay off. First, you’ll need to claim and verify your business on Google My Business. If you haven’t already, it’s super easy. Learn how to claim your business on Google. After you’ve set up your business, you’re ready to start collecting Google reviews.
Here's a step-by-step guide for doing this yourself:
You can respond directly to any Google review right from your computer and phone. BirdEye sends you mobile alerts for each new review, and the reply you write in BirdEye is automatically published on Google.
This is not the wild west. There are rules. When it comes to reviews, Google has strict guidelines in place designed to preserve authenticity. The only way to use Google reviews to your advantage is to comply fully with all of Google’s policies.
These guidelines include:
Do not review your own business. This is considered a conflict of interest and the risk just isn’t worth the reward. Don’t even think about getting your friends and family to review you either, that’s another no-no.
Do not “gate” reviews. This refers to using a third-party platform to filter out negative reviews. Often businesses do this by selectively routing customers who rate them 4 or 5 stars to review sites to share public feedback while routing 1-star reviewers to a separate page where they can leave feedback privately.
Do not review competitors. This is just as much of a conflict of interest as reviewing your own business is. Again, not worth it. The penalties for getting caught by Google may be impossible to recover from.
Google has ground to remove reviews that they believe violate any of the guidelines above.
Whether your business is struggling to get new customers and lacking an online presence like Dr. Brender’s, or you have so many Google reviews that you don’t know how to manage them all—BirdEye is here to help you along each leg of the journey. And getting more reviews is just the first step. As new Google reviews start pouring in, you need a strategy in place to manage and respond to reviews in a timely manner so you can not only get new customers but retain the ones you already have.
Want to learn how to get more reviews without spending all of your time online? Then this free eBook is for you.
Dr. Dennis Brender, DDS
Jim Mizes, CEO & President at Blaze Pizza
Timothy D., VP of Sales and Marketing at Great Western Building Systems
Don Deems, Cantrell West Dental