Google Reviews

All you need to know about Google reviews: Why businesses need them, how to get more, and how to manage them to grow your business.

Google Reviews

Let’s take Dr. Dennis Brender DDS as an example of how powerful Google reviews can be.

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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.

More Google Reviews

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.

Why are Google Reviews important?

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?

Google Reviews Importance

The proof is in the numbers.

  • 93% of consumers read online reviews before choosing a business. Compared to other review sites like Facebook and ZocDoc, Google reviews have an overwhelming visibility in search results and are helping make Google the fastest growing. Google reviews are not only the most used review site but also the most trusted. Having more Google reviews can increase your business’s trust with potential customers.
  • Local businesses that rank in the top 3 positions in search results -- otherwise known as Google’s Local Pack -- have an average of 47 Google reviews (BrightLocal). In general, the more Google reviews you have, the higher you rank.
  • The majority of consumers (60%) would either visit a business or the business’ website after reading good reviews online. Reviews establish the trust required to take that next critical step.

What is Google My Business and why do I need it to get more
Google reviews?

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:

Google My Business

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.

How can you get more Google reviews?

Ask at the right time

Timing is everything. In some cases, asking too soon can come across as annoying to the customer, especially if he or she hasn’t had enough time to form an opinion about your product or service. Asking too late, on the other hand, can render your business irrelevant, resulting in your message being ignored or overlooked entirely. This doesn’t mean you have to set timers every time a customer leaves your store. That leads us to tip #2.

Make it super easy

In today’s always-on, digitally interconnected world, we expect to get exactly what we want without trying too hard. Need a ride somewhere? Tap, tap, done. Need to pay someone back? Tap, done. The same goes for reviews: the more steps involved in leaving a review, the less likely customers are to go through with it. Rather than hoping your customers care enough to search for your business, open your Google profile, and find the “Write a Review” button.

Here's a step-by-step guide for doing this yourself:

  1. Do a Google search for your company.

How To Get Google Reviews

  1. Click on the “Write a Review” button that appears in the Knowledge Graph.

Google Reviews Explained

  1. A Google review box will pop up. Copy the URL from the address bar.

Write Reviews On Google

  1. Shorten the Google review URL.
    • You’ll notice your review URL is quite long. If you’re sending SMS messages, you have a 160-character limit, so you’ll need to make that link shorter if you want to include anything else in your message (which you do). There are lots of free tools to shorten URLs, but our favorite is Google URL Shortener. Just paste your review link into the text box and you’ll get a shorter, more user-friendly version like this [https://goo.gl/Z7cSgU].

Google Business Reviews

  1. Paste shortened URL into review requests.
    • By adding this clean little URL to your emails and SMS messages, you can smoothly direct customers to your Google My Business profile where they can easily leave a review.

Google Review Url

Wait … that’s a lot of steps.

Fear not. There is a review generation software out there that will take care of all this for you. BirdEye, for example, uses deep-linking to route customers directly to your Google My Business page in one click. This makes 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 not just for Google reviews, but also any other third-party sites you want new reviews on.

BirdEye is fully integrated with Google, so every step of the review collection process is automatic.

Customers don’t have to navigate to a different page to review you. They can post straight to Google from the request you send them.

Google Review Ratings

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.

Respond To Google Review

What you should keep in mind when you’re collecting Google reviews:

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.

  • Too many new reviews posted all at once raise a red flag for Google and can result in all the reviews being removed. Avoid blasting your entire customer list with review requests. Instead, use a platform like BirdEye to set up requests to customers that give you a steady flow of new reviews across a longer period of time.
  • Multiple reviews from the same IP address also arouse suspicion from Google, since that suggests several reviews from the same user for one business -- in other words, fakes. Businesses often get dinged for this even when their intentions are completely pure. The duplicate IP address issue can happen when a business collects reviews using a kiosk in their lobby, or on business phones or tablets. Although many different people are leaving reviews, only a few devices are being used, making it impossible to tell what’s real. The best practice here is to only use kiosks and tablets to check-in your customers, then have that check-in trigger a review request sent to their personal email or phone. This way, each unique review comes from a unique IP address, and everyone’s life is easier.

More Google review tips:
  • If you’re sharing your best reviews to your company website or social media channels, it might sound like a good idea to just copy and paste the review text -- don’t. Google considers this duplicate content -- duplicate content isn’t valuable, so your business may drop in search ranking, and the original review might even be removed from Google. Instead, share the review by embedding it; this is a more technical process that BirdEye does for you automatically.
  • Google reviews are extremely important, but you shouldn’t restrict your review strategy solely to Google. An important factor in Google’s search ranking algorithm is “review distribution”: the variety of sites on which you have reviews. Customers also trust a business more if it has great reviews on more than one site. A good way to find out which sites you should prioritize is by doing a local search for your industry and seeing what comes up. For example, a search for “realtor near me” might display results for Realtor.com and Zillow, while a search for “doctor near me” might show Healthgrades and RateMDs. Since your customers will see these same results when conducting this local search, make sure your business has a strong presence here as well.

Get started collecting those Google reviews.

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.

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