When it comes to doing business in this modern age, how you show up in search is everything. Whether you’re a local business or a national chain, having a strong presence in search engine result pages (SERPs) is going to help you get seen at the right time by the right people. But it’s about more than just your website. It’s about the other places you can be seen, especially on Google. Google offers Google My Business, a dedicated online listing that works much like old-school phone books — just a lot more user- and search-friendly. It’s also a hub where people can review your business.
About Google My Business
Google My Business launched in 2014 and, since then, has offered many iterations of listings for businesses and their owners. Instead of “being at the whim” of other directories or outdated information, Google My Business allows businesses to control things like their hours, location, phone number, etc. Thanks to the GMB tool, businesses can now show up in SERPs with a dedicated listing, as well as in Google Maps searches.
Having accurate information on your Google My Business listing is critical if you want to convert searching customers, but it’s also important to have reviews.
How Reviews Work on GMB
Reviews on your Google My Business listing are fairly straightforward: a visitor or customer can leave a review based on their experience and that review is visible to other searchers in a “feed” of past reviews. You will also receive a star average, based on the number and quality of reviews. This is the review “counter” people see when they first search for your business:
Business listing “view” as of Aug 2019
Why do you need GMB reviews? 93% of consumers are swayed by reviews for your brand, service, or product online — and every one-star review is connected to revenue decreases for businesses. Plus, reading positive reviews increases the rate of conversion by 56%!
And we know that your business isn’t the only one of its kind out there, but reviews can help you stand out. 65% of smartphone searchers are looking for the most relevant and highest-rated business — especially when they are looking at a list of similar options. So, if you want to stand out from your competition and encourage people to buy, visit your store, or convert in some way, you need good reviews on your GMB listing — and more than just a few.
But how do you get more Google reviews, and how do you encourage visitors and customers to go out of their way to leave you a positive review? We’ve got a few ideas for you.
Encourage Customers to Leave Google Reviews
1. Give them a link.
The thing with Google reviews is… the customer has to go to Google, search for your listing, and then leave a review. If they’re not by a computer or are already searching for it on their phone, the odds of them remembering to do so later decrease. That’s why you can simply add a link to your Google listing on your website, or automate it in your emails (this works well if you ship something or have email correspondence with customers). Make sure the “call to action” is big enough to see, and is repetitive enough to get results.
Of course, it’s not as easy as linking to your listing: you’ll want a custom link that takes people directly to the review window. To do this:
- Search for your company’s place ID: https://developers.google.com/places/place-id
- Find your place’s ID and copy it to the end of this URL: http://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<PLACE_ID>
- Your link should look like this: http://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJIRauBakEdkgRjoeyuI53AOc
You can use a tool like bit.ly to shorten the link and make it easier to share. Just make sure to test it before sending it out!
2. Give them something to remember.
Business cards, little flyers, coasters, and even fun stickers asking people to “Please leave a Google review”: these are all great ways to attract reviews later. The more fun you have with it, the more it will be noticed, so put some thought into what you could hand out. And if you’re worried about the cost of this kind of marketing collateral, remember it can also double as advertisements, should it be handed off or seen by someone else.
3. Send them a follow-up.
We can all relate: We have a great experience with a business, whether online or in person, and we think “I should leave a review!” … and then we forget. As a business owner, you can reconnect with people you’ve worked with online by sending a simple follow email.
Here’s an example:
Hi [customer name],
It was a pleasure to serve you!
Would you mind leaving us a short review about your experience? This helps others find us, and lets us know what we’re doing right (or need to improve)!
You can just click here and it will take you right to the review: URL (shortened if possible)
Leave us a Google review! URL (shortened if possible)
In-person visitors can be harder to reconnect with, but it’s possible to use SMS marketing tools to text them a link to your review. This can cost a bit upfront but can be highly effective if getting more and better reviews is on your agenda.
4. Get it in front of visitors — online and in person.
People read a lot of signs and requests every day, from websites they visit to the signs on the street. If you want people to leave a Google review, you can’t just have a small line somewhere on your website, or a tiny sign on your cashier’s station that asks for a review. Put the request in multiple places, in larger sizes, and don’t be shy about asking multiple times.
This could look like a popup on your website, a reminder in your product descriptions, or a few signs throughout your physical location to “Please leave us a Google review!” You can also train your cashiers or customer service agents to ask for a review before the customer leaves.
5. Share it on social!
Have a great review you’re proud of? Snag a screenshot and share it on your Facebook or Twitter account. Add a link to your Google review page so other people can join in. Odds are, customers already follow you if they liked their experience or your services/products. Connect with them on the platforms they’re already part of, and you may see more people click through and leave a review!
6. Create check-in offers.
Restaurants have used this tip with great success, but the principle works for any type of business. All you need to do is let physical or online customers know that they’ll get a special offer, discount, or giveaway submission if they check into your business on Google and leave a review. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you set clear rules: their name needs to be attached to the Google review and it has to be within the window of your special promotion.
But this is a fun and simple way to draw in new traffic, as well as encourage good reviews for a simple kickback.
Properly Manage Reviews
If you’re wondering how to get Google reviews, you’re also probably wondering how you only get good Google reviews. But the truth is, not every review is going to be 5 stars. So, our last two tips on how to get more Google reviews center more on how to manage the reviews you do get.
7. Respond to reviews — all of them.
Google recommends that businesses reply to their reviews, and they even provide tips for responding on their GMB review page. To do this, you may download the Google My Business app, or check your review notifications on email frequently. Remember: how you handle negative reviews is just as important as the number of reviews you do have.
30% of consumers are positively swayed if a business responds to its reviews, whether good or bad. So make it a habit of checking in on your GMB reviews and responding to each one. Keep it simple and polite — getting defensive or blaming the customer won’t help.
8. Start at the beginning.
Before you think about how to get people to your Google listing to leave a review, you should be wondering how to give people an exceptional experience worth leaving a review. Reviews are all about customer service and a great experience. If you’re not providing either of those things, getting reviews can be difficult. That’s why, instead of asking how to get Google reviews, you could probably be asking “How can we be deserving of good Google reviews?”
From there, it’s all about engaging your customers, staying top of mind, and making it easy for them to leave a review.