Whether your business has a single location, hundreds of locations, or branches sprinkled here and there across various regions or states, visibility to your current and potential customers is vital to your bottom line. This is especially true when considering your business’s ranking against competitors on Google Search.
There are many ways to improve your local search presence online, and it’s no secret: there are many ranking factors that influence your local business’s online visibility. One aspect that demands your attention is your online reviews.
Why? A 2023 local consumer review study revealed that 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses, and 87% used Google to evaluate local businesses. In short, reviews are pivotal for local businesses.
Ready to revolutionize your online presence? Keep reading to learn why online reviews are so crucial (hint – it’s not only about your reputation) and how you can leverage this valuable feature in Google Business Profile to influence a customer’s decision to choose your business over your competitors.
If you’d like, you can jump to the following:
Reviews Are a Trust Signal
If you don’t have enough reviews, it can look like you don’t get enough business. And the same is true if you do have enough reviews, but they’re predominantly negative.
According to Google, “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”
Since reviews build trust between your brand and your target audience, this is a great opportunity to capitalize on the experiences of happy customers to get the word out about your business and its services. However, reviews can also work against you if the customers sharing their experiences are dissatisfied.
The solution? Respond to your reviews, whether they’re positive or negative.
Respond to reviews that users leave about your business. When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback.Google, on replying to reviews
Engaging online with your current customer base shows future customers that you’re listening, so don’t just read their feedback. Acknowledge each review with a personalized, thoughtful response. This will show anyone researching your business that you’re active online and prioritize the customer service experience.
Reviews Can Help Improve Customer Service
Google reviews aren’t just for consumers. They can expose internal issues and opportunities to improve the services you provide. Whether it’s a product, a menu item, an employee, or an experience, feedback from your customer base can be used to refine (and redefine) the customer experience.
Reviews are also an effective way to measure performance. Are you making a concerted effort to improve your customer service? Start tracking the number of positive reviews vs. negative reviews, and use that as a metric to gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. There are tools that provide this insight, or you can simply log into your Google account, go to the reviews section, and view your reviews by star rating.
From there, it’s straightforward. If you’re seeing more negative comments, you have some work to do. If the feedback is leaning more positive, your efforts are being rewarded with those valuable 4 and 5-star reviews that can make a difference in how your business ranks against its competitors.
The Impact of Google Reviews on Rankings
We’ve been seeing it for years: businesses seem to appear in the Local Pack more frequently when they have higher star ratings, a higher number of reviews, reviews containing valuable keywords, and newer, consistent reviews compared to their competitors.
The Local Pack is a coveted spot, typically displaying anywhere from 2-5 businesses above the search results, with a map indicating the precise location of each business in the local pack.
Even better, when a review has a keyword that matches the query (whether it be semantic or exact), that review can be pulled into the map pack results, drawing the user’s attention to that specific business. This is what Google calls a review justification, and it’s yet another reason Google reviews are vital to your business.
Google Reviews as Justifications
Let’s refine that search and type in the Google search bar: “best Chinese restaurant in NW Washington, DC.” Look at the plethora of review justifications!
Justifications are a feature that Google adds to local search results, simply put, to “justify” why it showed the user a specific business. There are many types of justifications, and in most cases, they are triggered by the query entered into the search bar.
If the query and perceived user intent match a review, Google will add the review just under the business to show the user, “here is why we showed you this result… someone left a review that might help you make an informed decision.”
This is yet another reason Google reviews (and the feedback from those reviews) should be prioritized by local businesses.
Note: Justifications also appear in other forms, including services provided, location attributes, website justifications, and more.
Google Reviews: Prominent on Your Google Business Profile
A business’ review star rating and the number of reviews are immediately visible, prominently displayed at the top of the first section in the Google Business Profile Knowledge Panel. Although small on the front side, Google reviews stand out clearly because of their trademark bright gold stars.
Further down in the knowledge panel, Google extracts phrases from various star ratings (usually a combination of good and bad reviews) to provide a summary of your review “landscape” and offer a balanced view of feedback about your business. It’s typically 3 reviews that show on the front-facing side of the knowledge panel.
When the reviews of a business are overwhelmingly positive, it seems that Google won’t always display the less favorable reviews in this section. So, why not strive for positive reviews by providing an exceptional customer experience? This section will speak for itself with a detailed list of excellent customer experiences – straight from the customers themselves.
Leveraging Google Reviews on Your Website
Because location page content for multi-location businesses must be unique, Google reviews are a great way to add distinctive content to location pages that directly impact an experience at that specific location.
This is one of the reasons why reviews aren’t just for Google Business Profile. Simply install a plug-in or widget on the back-end settings of your website (on each location page) that links to your GBP for that specific location. This will help your potential customers understand more about your business – and its happy customers!
If a review is well written with keyword-rich content, consider incorporating that review directly into your location page content, and be sure to attribute it to the user on your Google Business Profile.
Tip: Reply to the person who left the review on your Google Business Profile and ask permission to use their review on your website.
Google reviews provide useful information and help your business stand out.Google, on why reviews are important
How To Get More Google Reviews For Your Business
Now that we know why reviews matter, how can you shift your marketing strategy to focus on getting more reviews?
1. Train your staff to encourage satisfied customers to leave a review on Google.
2. Use a QR code that, when scanned, directs the customer to the page where they can leave a review. Display this QR code on your door, at the check-out counter, or wherever you think customers will best see it, and hopefully, be inspired to leave you a glowing review.
3. Prioritize improving your customer service. When emotions run high – whether due to a fantastic or less-than-ideal experience, customers tend to share their thoughts and feelings on a review platform like Google. Use review feedback to identify areas of opportunity where you can enhance your services, and continue to make customer satisfaction your priority.
4. Invest in a text messaging review generation campaign. What could be more convenient than clicking a link from your phone to leave a review? This cost-effective strategy can lead to dozens of great new reviews that are insightful for both your business and your customers.
5. Send a review request via email. Make your request for a review concise, straightforward, and easy for your customer to leave a high-quality review, with keywords naturally woven into their comments. We recommend adding “prompts” in our emails to increase the likelihood of a high-quality review.
- What service did you receive, and what made your experience a valuable one?
- Would you recommend our services and why?
- Tell us about your experience in a few sentences.
6. Timing is crucial when asking for reviews. It’s probably not beneficial to ask a customer from 30+ days ago to leave a review. After all, you want their great experience to be fresh in their minds when they decide to write about it!
Consider asking for a review promptly:
- Once the service is complete, but before the customer leaves your place of business.
- When you send or provide the customer with a bill.
- When a telephone conversation is coming to an end.
Making it easy for your customers to leave a review is crucial. No one wants to jump through hoops to share their positive experiences, so streamline the process for your customers. Do you have a waiting area? Consider displaying a QR code that directs them straight to a pop-up window where they can leave a review and star rating on Google Business Profile.
The same ease should be applied to text or email messages. Requesting a review (or receiving one) doesn’t have to be a hassle. It can be as simple as saying, “If you’re satisfied with the services we provided today, could you leave us a Google review detailing your experience?”
When they agree, follow up with, “Thank you so much… We value those reviews, and they genuinely help us understand our customers’ experiences. The more details you can provide in your review, the better.”
What Is a High-Quality Review?
We can tell you, or we can show you. Let’s opt for the latter. Suppose you have two five-star reviews for a nail salon.
Review #1 features:
- 5 stars
- No images
- Short, minimal content that reads: “Great experience. Would go back again.”
Review #2 includes:
- 5 stars
- An image of the finished manicure
- Detailed, descriptive content that reads: “I went in to get a full acrylic set, and didn’t have to wait to be seen. I went to my chair, and the nail tech offered me a drink while she gathered the equipment. She made me feel like I was her priority and was very detailed yet efficient. My nails looked great, and I think these nails will last for at least 3 weeks. I highly recommend this nail salon! This is the best manicure I’ve ever had and the customer service was amazing.”
While review number one isn’t terrible and has 5 stars, it pales in comparison to review number two, which details the experience, includes an image, and incorporates valuable keywords (nails, manicure, full acrylic set, best manicure) naturally into the content that can impact rankings.
High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.Google on high-quality reviews
While this level of detail is great for positive reviews, it can also work against you if a review is negative. A high level of detail can make any review stick to the front of the profile, which is why we suggested prioritizing customer service if you want excellent Google reviews that dominate your reviews knowledge panel (and gain you a top-tier position in search results).
Google Also Values Reviews from Other Sites
Reviews aren’t only important on Google. In fact, Google itself invites customers to look at reviews on other websites. Remember the review “summary” mentioned above? Google will sometimes list what it calls “Reviews from the Web,” on the Google Business Profile.
It typically resides just above that review summary and invites customers to look at reviews from other review websites relevant to the business, like Facebook, ZocDoc, Open Table, Foursquare, and more.
Manage Your Reviews, Your Brand, and Your Customer’s Experience With Care
Reviews, a key signal of brand trust, have the potential to enhance your visibility within search rankings. As people search for the services and products brands provide, your review gathering and response – which is a direct reflection of your excellent customer services – ensures a positive, helpful experience with your brand, and more customers over time.
And it’s not a one-and-done: you should never stop asking for reviews. Any time you have a happy customer, the kind request for a review (and the process to make it happen with ease) should follow.
Managing your online reviews isn’t just a “nice-to-have,” it’s a game-changer for your brand’s reputation and visibility. By making it a breeze for your customers to leave reviews and responding to their feedback, you’re not just building trust, you’re building a community.
Action Steps: Boost Your Business with Google Reviews
Now that you’re armed with the essential insights on how and why to utilize Google Reviews for your business, it’s time to put those insights into action. Here’s a no-nonsense checklist to help you jump right into boosting your business presence with Google Reviews.
1. Engage in active review management: Show your customers that their feedback is valued by responding to both positive and negative reviews.
2. Enhance customer service: Utilize reviews as a tool to pinpoint areas for improvement and monitor the balance between positive and negative reviews as a measure of performance.
3. Harness the power of Google review justifications: Make sure your reviews are rich in keywords that align with your service and location to boost your visibility in local searches.
4. Showcase positive reviews on your site: Integrate reviews filled with relevant keywords into your website’s location pages.
5. Kickstart a proactive review generation initiative: Motivate your customers to share their experiences through staff training, QR codes, text messaging, and email campaigns.
6. Strategically time your review requests: Solicit reviews when the customer’s experience is still fresh in their minds.
7. Aim for high-quality reviews: Encourage customers to provide detailed accounts of their experiences, along with images and relevant keywords.
8. Tap into reviews from other platforms: Don’t overlook reviews on other platforms like Facebook, ZocDoc, and Open Table. These can also be showcased on your Google Business Profile.
9. Watch over your brand with diligence: Consistent review collection and response will foster trust and build a community around your brand.
Want even more guidance on how to optimize your online presence and drive business growth? We specialize in crafting powerful digital marketing strategies that deliver outstanding results. Our team of experts is here to help. Let’s talk!