You already know that reviews are vital for boosting brand awareness. That's why you work so hard to generate as many 5-star reviews as possible. Positive reviews tell prospects that your business is reliable and improves your reputation. Negative reviews have their benefits, too, when handled thoughtfully.
Your Google review score and the number of reviews your company receives significantly impacts your search engine ranking. But did you know that replying to reviews also influences your rank? Not only will replying to reviews earn you a better reputation with Google, but it tells your customers you value their time and opinions.
We'll explore a few things you can do to generate more reviews and take control of your reputation by replying to existing ones. But first, let's take a look at a few fast facts about Google reviews:
- Nearly 85% of people trust reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends.
- Reviews comprise over 15% of the information Google uses to determine a company's search engine ranking.
- Customers who receive a response to a negative review are more likely to revise or delete it.
- Replying to reviews increases brand visibility and may influence your search engine ranking.
- Web chat captures negative reviews and redirects them to your dashboard so you can address them privately.
Why Google Reviews are important for local businesses
The first reason why Google Reviews are important is pretty obvious: they're the ultimate indicator of a company's trustworthiness. Nearly 85% of people trust reviews just as much as they trust their friends.
Even negative reviews serve a valuable purpose. Not only can they help you improve your business, but they also show new customers how you handle complaints.
That's not the only benefit of responding to your reviews. Replying also shows Google that you're committed to providing outstanding customer service. It's unclear whether that directly affects your search ranking, but Google implies it does. Google's support page for improving your local ranking mentions responding to reviews as a way to increase brand visibility.
Replying to reviews can also help you get more of them. A Harvard Business Review study found that companies — in this case, hotels — that respond to reviews regularly receive over 10% more reviews on average. And the business' overall star rating improves by a tenth of a star on average.
Google Reviews also have hidden benefits for SEO and organic traffic. Review score and quantity comprise over 15% of how Google ranks a business.
Tip: Don't get discouraged by negative reviews. Resolving a negative review could cause over 30% of customers to either change their review to a more positive one or delete the negative review altogether.
How to encourage your customers to leave a review
Offer to share their review on social media with a personalized thank-you note.
Small businesses like yours have something big brands don't: the power of knowing your customers on a first-name basis.
You've spent years building intimate relationships with your customers. When you share their review, include a personalized thank-you note. They'll feel appreciated and valued, and they'll be more likely to book with your company again. This will encourage other customers to leave reviews and receive a little social media clout of their own.
Should you share only positive reviews? Not necessarily. Sharing a negative review, responding to it tactfully in your post, and discussing how you resolved the issue could very well work out in your favor.
How many of your competitors share their negative reviews? In fact, how many businesses do you know that share their negative reviews?
Probably not many, right?
Not sharing negative reviews makes sense, of course. No one wants to draw attention to the complaints they receive.
Using a thoughtful approach to share negative reviews and how you handle them could impress your customers. Receiving negative reviews shows the human side of your business. You won't get everything right 100% of the time. Owning up to that publicly shows your customers you're not afraid of accountability. That will likely earn your customers' respect.
Send your request at the right time.
It's best to request a review when you're still top-of-mind. Ask for a review a few days after the service is completed.
Tip: Personalize your request. Consider mentioning the customer's specific service. This lets them know you're not sending out the same cookie-cutter request to everyone.
Make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave reviews.
Asking a customer to leave a review is one thing. But sending them a customized review link right in the request makes the process frictionless. They don't need to open another app, sign in to their Google account, search for your business, scroll down to the review section — you get the idea.
Check out this Google Support guide on how to create a custom link for customers to leave reviews.
An important note on sourcing Google reviews
Offering incentives like discounts and cash back for reviews is against Google's terms of service.
Instead of offering monetary incentives, emphasize the importance of reviews for your business.
Most customers know reviews are crucial for local businesses. And 70% of customers will leave a review if a company asks them to.
Your secret weapon for capturing more reviews
Sure, you could set up a one-size-fits-all automated email campaign to request reviews. To save yourself time, you might draft a template that goes out to every customer a few days after their service.
But there are a few more creative ways to request reviews — ways that ensure your message doesn't get lost in an already overflowing inbox.
SMS and web chat are underrated platforms for requesting customer reviews. SMS open rates are much higher than email. Web chat allows you to field negative reviews before they go public so you can address the complaint privately. Plus, you can set up a button in your web chat widget with your custom Google link. All your customers need to do is click one button to leave a review.
The importance of Google reviews for your business: wrapping up
You don't need us to tell you how important reviews are for your business. But if you're having trouble getting people to leave reviews, try these tips:
- Personalize your request
- Offer to share their review on social media
- Share negative reviews intelligently and tactfully
- Send your request via SMS instead of email
- Set up an automatic review capture option in your web chat widget
Want to capture more reviews and build your brand's reputation? Learn how to capture more Google reviews with web chat.