Google Reviews For Local Businesses

If you’re looking to get more new customers, then you need to take Google reviews for local businesses very seriously.

Why?

First, chances are that Google is where most people looking for a business like yours will see your business reviews.

Second, in this age of the Internet we now live in, online reviews are one of the most important sources that provide trust and credibility for your local business.

Third, Google reviews improve your local search engine optimization (SEO).

In other words, when someone searches for the products and/or services you sell, reviews are a major ranking factor if you want to get your business found in the local search engine results pages (SERPS).

Following are the results from a study showing how more reviews translates into more customers, more revenue for your business.

More Online Google Reviews Means More Customers

More Proof That Google Reviews For Local Businesses Are Important

  • 92% of consumers read online reviews before selecting a business. (eTailing Group)
  • 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business — more than any other review site. (reviewtrackers)
  • 90% of consumers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. (MarketingLand.com)
  • A one “star” overall difference in reviews results in a 5% – 9% change in revenue. (Harvard Business Review)
  • The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision. (BrightLocal)
  • The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. (BrightLocal)

I could list dozens of additional bullet points showing you why Google reviews are so important to your business, but I think you get the point.

Basic Criteria For Getting Google Reviews For Your Business

There are many factors that Google looks at when evaluating reviews, but following are the three you should focus on.

The total number of reviews you need

The bottom line: The more reviews your business gets, the better.

Your business should shoot for several hundred reviews over the span of a few years, and you should never stop building your review profile.

However, keep this in mind. Your business is being judged against your local competitors, so the total number of reviews is a bit relative.

For instance, you may be in a business where you only have 40-50 customers a month, while other types of businesses may get that many customers in a day. So, they’ll have a lot more opportunities to get reviews.

The point here is that your goal is to always have significantly more reviews than your local competition.

Your Overall Star Rating Minimum

Make sure your business is above four stars. Four and a half stars, and above, should be your goal. Under four stars will cost you business.

According to reviewtrackers, customers don’t really trust businesses with lower than a four-star rating. Eighty percent of consumers state that they do trust a four to five star rating.

Your Google Reviews Need To Be Recent

When people read online reviews, they tend to skim them to find the most recent reviews. They don’t pay as much attention to reviews that are more than three months old.

That’s why it’s important to consistently get reviews every single month.

The Process For Getting Google Reviews

The biggest mistake that I see business owners making is a simple one that is incredibly important: They don’t ask for reviews.

You’ve heard it said, “Ask and you shall receive.” That’s very true when it comes to getting reviews.

According to BrightLocal’s 2019 survey, “76% of those who are asked to leave reviews go on to do so, up from 70% the previous year.”

Many business owners have told me that they feel awkward asking for reviews, or just get too busy and fail to do so. If you fall into this category you need to change your mindset and your front office procedures to collect reviews every month for your business.

Quick and Easy Steps For Getting Google Reviews For Local Businesses

First, when you’ve completed the work for a customer, review what you’ve done for them by asking one simple question like, “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your experience with us?”

If the customer gives you a high rating, then thank them and ask for a review. If you get a poor rating, then ask the reason for it.

Use any negative information you learn to improve your business. This is great marketing research you can use to improve your customer’s experience, get more repeat business, get more referrals and drive your sales curve up.

Second, encourage your satisfied customers to share their review on Google.

If you want to get the ball rolling fast you can send bulk email campaigns to your email database. One caveat is that you may get some negative reviews unless you’ve removed known unhappy customers from your email list.

In my opinion it’s always better to ask for a review face to face so you can have a better idea if you’re asking a satisfied customer for a review.

If you send an email then you should include a shortened link that will take your happy customers straight to the Google review form for your business.

Tips For Getting More Google Reviews

Many business owners delegate the task of collecting reviews to people at the front desk or the checkout area of their local business. And they simply tell everyone to ask for reviews.

What I’ve found is that when everyone is told to do something, few will do it well, if at all.

My suggestion for getting more Google reviews for small businesses is to assign the task of getting reviews to one person and make them accountable for getting good results every month. Make the review process a part of their official job description, give them full authority over the people and processes involved and let them know it will be a part of their annual review.

Set Monthly Goals For Getting Google Reviews

Zig Ziglar was quoted as saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

Without goals for building your reviews you’re probably not going to do very well. It will likely be a new process for your office staff, and it won’t get much attention unless you let everyone know that you’re serious about getting reviews.

It’s important to set realistic goals at the beginning, and how many reviews you get a month will be determined by how many opportunities you get.

So, if you are a dentist who sees 75 patients a week you will have more opportunities than a custom cabinet maker who finishes three jobs a week.

It’s all relative. Some business categories will have far more opportunities to get reviews than others, so just focus on the process of getting reviews on Google and everything should fall into place naturally.

Evaluate Your Success On A Monthly Basis

When you set your monthly goals then get with your staff to evaluate how you’re doing.

  • Are you asking for reviews on a daily basis?
  • How many of your customers are you asking for reviews? You should be asking every customer you believe to be happy with your services.
  • Are your customers following through? If not, why not and what can you do to encourage them to give you a review?
  • Is everyone on your staff supportive of your effort to get reviews? What can you do to get them working as a team?

Responding To Google Reviews

Google likes to see engagement between your business and your customers, so responding to reviews is a great way to show that.

You’ll find people who tell you to respond to all your reviews, both positive and negative. That’s great if you want to do that, but most business owners I speak to don’t see that as being practical and don’t respond to all reviews.

However, you MUST respond to all negative reviews, and you need to do so in a timely way.

Here’s why.

  • Negative reviews drive away customers. 94 percent say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business. (review trackers)
  • 82% of shoppers seek out negative reviews; among shoppers under 45 this number jumps to 86%. (PowerReviews)
  • 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. But 63 percent say that a business has never responded to their review. (reviewtrackers)
  • Among consumers that read reviews, 97% read businesses’ responses to reviews. (BrightLocal)

Knowing how potential customers respond to negative reviews, every day you delay in responding could cost you new customers. I recommend you monitor your reviews on a daily basis and respond to a negative review immediately.

How To Access Your Google Reviews For Local Businesses

  • Sign into your Google My Business account.
  • Click “Reviews” from the menu on the left.
  • Find the review you would like to respond to and click the “Reply” button.

Reply to Google reviews for your local business

To flag a negative Google review…

  • Find the review you’d like to flag.
  • Click on the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner of the review.
  • Click the “Flag as inappropriate” button.

Flag A fake Google Review for a local business

If you don’t yet have a Google My Business account then click here to open/verify one.

How To Respond To Negative Google Reviews

One thing to remember is that you NEVER want to get in an argument online… no public back and forth. That’s a no-win situation.

Instead, follow a process like this.

  • Acknowledge the customer’s concern and address the issue directly.
  • Add something positive about your business in your response that is contrary to the negative review.
  • If the reviewer was correct, provide an explanation if there is one.
  • Keep your response short and to the point.
  • Invite the reviewer to discuss the issue offline.

Following is a good example of a response to a negative Google review.

Responding to a negative Google review for a small business

Another example using the process above is the following.

Hi Heather:

We’re sorry you didn’t have a great experience at our dealership. Normally our customer service is a strong point for us as you can see in other reviews here. However, I understand that you were here during a holiday promotion when we were admittedly very busy. Please let us make it up to you and call us at (000) 555-1212.

Here’s what to do when a negative google review is unfounded

Sometimes a negative review is baseless and possibly an attack from someone who doesn’t like you or your business. In the case of a false narrative you can point that out in your response and flag the review to see if Google will remove it (See above for information about flagging reviews).

Using the example above, you may respond by saying something like this:

Hi Heather:

We have no record of you as a customer or of the incident you have mentioned in your review. You may be confusing our business with another one. If so, please remove this review, or contact us if you would like to discuss this further.

Following is a video on this subject. Go directly to the 1:49 minute mark to get past the self promotion.

How To Respond To The Positive Reviews.

Responding to positive reviews is a simple process. I would suggest the following.

  • Thank them for their positive review.
  • Include some marketing in your response like telling them about related or new products/services for them to try or an upcoming promotion.
  • Add a call to action (what you would like them to do next).

Here’s an example.

Hi Jane:

Thank you so much for your kind words. We always like hearing from our loyal customers like you.

The next time you’re in you may also want to try our relaxing massage therapy. In fact, we’re going to be having a special promotion the entire month of June. Call and book an appointment now and get an extra 15 minutes free!

How To Display Google Reviews For Local Businesses On A WordPress Website

When you’re getting a lot of great reviews on Google you may want to show them on your website.

If you have a WordPress website you’ll have a few choices of plugins to help you do that. Following are some of the better ones.

  • Easy Google Places Reviews
  • Everest Google Places Reviews
  • Google Reviews Widget
  • WP Google Review Slider

Some of these plugins will even let you filter out bad reviews you may get on Google so that they don’t show on your website.

If you don’t have a WordPress website you may need to find someone who can write some code to help you with that.

Can You Disable Google Reviews In Google My Business?

The short answer is no. you can not turn off, disable or hide Google reviews for your business.

I’ve heard from several business owners that they just don’t want to deal with reviews, but Google won’t let you do that if you’re a local brick and mortar local business.

However, if you’re an online business with no physical address, then Google won’t let you list your business, so reviews don’t come into play. That’s the case for business owners who work out of their home and don’t want their home address listed online.

Getting Support for Google Reviews For Local Businesses

Sometimes you want to ask a question about a specific circumstance you face and want some direct feedback from Google.

To contact Google you can use the “Support” feature at the bottom of the left hand column in your Google My Business Account.

Google reviews for local businesses support

You can also call the Google Ads phone number (1-866-246-6453) and select the option for Google My Business. You will need to have a Google Ads account number to get to that option.

Another way is to go to their support page by clicking here.

Google My Business Policies And Guidelines

There’s a lot to learn about using Google My Business and you may have some questions along the way. If so, you can click here and get the answers you need.

Summary – Google Reviews For Local Businesses

Here’s what you need to do to get Google reviews for a local business in a nutshell.

Focus on getting reviews consistently every month. The more reviews the better, and you want to maintain an average rating of 4.5 stars or higher.

If your average rating is less than four stars then you are losing business to your competitors, so work hard to make sure your rating does not fall below a four.

Make sure that you have a process in place to ask all your satisfied customers for a review. Most people will give you a review if you’ll just ask them.

Put one person in charge of building your online reviews and give them the authority over the process and people involved. Set monthly goals and review your progress.

Always respond to negative reviews quickly in a professional manor. And do not get in a public argument online.

Respond to positive reviews by thanking the reviewer, include some marketing in your response and maybe add a call to action.

If you have any questions, comments or insights about Google reviews for local businesses please add them in the comment section below.

Bob Hull
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