Google My Business Guide
Reviews in Your GMB Profile
For local businesses, it’s no longer enough to rank. Your presence in the SERPs has to stand out in order to attract new customers. Reviews play a critical part in a business’ ability to differentiate from the competition and can impact rankings.
The Impact of Reviews:
Listings with reviews instantly stand out because they have the golden stars.
Google showcases your reviews in the branded KP and also adds review highlights.
Google also features a section of reviews around the web giving your total reviews and average rating, which means if you have reviews from other third party sites (or even on your website) then your KP will expand further.
Reviews can bring in more business and provide valuable feedback.
What You Need to Know
Google wants you to grow your reviews but they do want you to be ethical in the methods you use to acquire more reviews.
You cannot pay for review or bribe a customer to leave a review.
You cannot review gate – if you are using a review platform or any review software to encourage customer feedback, you have to provide all users the option to leave online reviews. No moving the negative/unhappy experiences to a different landing page.
You cannot review your own business.
You cannot post a negative review about an ex-employer.
You cannot post a harmful review about a competitor.
How to Ask for Reviews
If you aren’t already asking for reviews, here are a few suggestions to help you grow your Google Maps and GMB reviews.
Ask via Email:
Create your own email template asking for your customer to leave you a review and link to your GMB listing. Things to consider
Consider including a question in your subject – “Hey Bob, could you please leave us a review?”
Make sure you take the time to personalize the email, incorporate the customer name.
Enhance with emoji’s – there’s a real debate on this as some people see it as spam, but you could consider incorporating an emoji.
Make your ask for a review even better, by encouraging customers to leave specifics and keywords in their reviews.
Encourage Reviews by Showcasing Other Customers Experiences
Google offers another free tool, Marketing Kit with Google, to create marketing materials from elements of your Business Profile. Share your customer reviews on your listing, create posters, stickers (follow us, review us, book with us on Google), social media posts, and more. Showcasing your reviews encourages others review your business, offers social proof, and it’s really easy to use.
Respond to Your Reviews
Respond to reviews both negative and positive in GMB. In fact Google released an update back in 2018 to notify reviewers when a business responds. If you’re not sure how to respond or need a little inspiration check out this post for ideas. Businesses that respond to reviews enjoy better ratings, see positive impacts in their SEO, and their responses help set the tone for future clients.
Google wants you to respond and reply to reviews, which is why they have expanded the options available for business owners to respond quickly, and from many different apps and locations.
Where You Can Reply to Google Reviews:
The Google My Business Desktop Dashboard – sign in and click on the reviews section, and select reply to any review.
If you mange multiple locations, there’s also a centralized Manage Reviews section in the side bar of your dashboard, which allows you to manage all of the reviews for all of your locations.
From your branded Knowledge Panel (Business Profile) in search results – as long as you’re logged in to the Google account that manages your business listing, you can click on Reviews in the Knowledge Panel, and select reply to any of the reviews.
The Google My Business App on mobile devices – allows you to respond under the Customers tab. Again, just select the review and then type your response on behalf of the business.
Google Maps on Desktop – as of February 13, 2019 you can respond to any review directly in Maps. Just search your business name in maps, click Reviews, and click Reply next to the review you’d like to respond to.
Google strongly encourages both business owners and users to increase their engagement when it comes to reviews. For business they are heavily pushing review responses and review requests. We’ve even recently encountered suggested replies for when a user leaves a rating, and suspect that it will likely be extended to full reviews as well. For users they’re pushing adding photos to reviews, giving prompts and asking “what do you like about this place” when leaving a review, and even sharing stats to Maps users on their contributions. These features further reinforce that Google place importance on reviews.
Additional Tips for Review Management
There are issues for spam regulation and fake reviews in GMB, being aware of this is important, but also not every negative review is a fake or spammed review. If you are proactive in managing your online reputation then it’s going to be easier to grow your online reviews, and have a more consistent, real reviews from customers that will strongly out number any fake reviews. If you have a legitimate fake review – then you can follow these steps for requesting the removal of the review. Just be sure to have the necessary proof and not a “he said/she said” argument to backup your fake review claim.
Be consistent with your request for reviews and feedback. People don’t want your business to be perfect, we don’t live in a 5 star world. 3-5 stars is fantastic. Try to remember this in your quest for the best rating.