Four Ways to Optimize Your Google Business Reviews

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Building your company’s online presence has always been a challenge, especially for small brick-and-mortar businesses with a modest local following. For most venues that cater to walk-in customers, your biggest concern is your Google Business rating, as this is what people see when they’re using a search engine or their Google Maps navigation feature when deciding where to go. Not only do you need to have a high average star rating, but ideally you will have enough reviews to create a trustworthy sample set and a great many positive details about enjoyable customer experiences. If you have already struggled your way through the first dozen reviews and have started to create a semi-steady stream, it’s time to think about optimizing the effect, appearance, and tone of your reviews page.

The fact of the matter is that having a thousand good reviews is far less powerful if there are several low ratings on the front page and one detailed positive review is more persuasive to customers than a dozen short five-word reviews put together. Fortunately, there are several ways to manage your reviews page to increase its effectiveness, influence, and positive representation of your venue.

1) Mark Helpful Reviews as ‘Helpful’

Google has one overlooked but truly useful feature in their reviews system in which some reviews can be marked as ‘helpful’. What this is used for is to allow online visitors to rate how well a review guided their purchasing decisions. Using a restaurant as an example, a highly helpful review might detail the environment, the table, the ingredients, and the quality of their meal, allowing others to guess how their customer experience might go. A less helpful review might simply say “We loved it!”. Equally positive, not as useful for guiding a decision.

If you want your Google Business reviews section to influence as many leads as possible to visit your venue, remember to mark the truly detailed and positive reviews as ‘helpful’ so they will appear at the top of the list.

2) Respond to Your Reviews

Customers don’t write reviews just for the fun of it, they do it to be heard and to help future customers make the right choices. This means that you can quickly and easily reward your reviewers and build stronger customer relationships simply by answering reviews with short friendly responses. Thank people for their reviews, make unique comments on what they said, and encourage them to come back soon with friends. One great way to encourage more reviews is to feature your favorites on social media.

3) Turn Around Negative Reviews with Customer Service

Negative reviews happen to everyone, even the most friendly and reliable businesses. When you get one, don’t get discouraged or angry. Look carefully at the review and decide on a course of action. Pure abuse without a real complaint? Ignore it and bury it in positive reviews. However, if there is a real problem or one that might be resolved, answer with your best possible customer service. Apologize for the bad experience, ask for details on what exactly went wrong so you can fix it, and offer a small discount for their trouble.

If you do manage to resolve the unhappy customer’s complaints, ask them to remove their negative review or update it to something nicer so others can see that you’re willing to fix your mistakes promptly and courteously.

4) Make Reviewing Easy

As our final tip, if you want more reviews, make reviewing as easy as possible. Add helpful links and suggestions everywhere. If you can, make it possible to review from various strategic points in your website, send follow-up emails with helpful review links, and consider including a reviewing function in your mobile app if you have one. The easier it is for a customer to pull of the review page and tap something out on their phone or at their desk, the more reviews you can get.

Getting your first few reviews is hard but the battle isn’t over once they start rolling in. With the right strategy and Google Business review manicuring techniques, you should be able to turn that mountain of positive reviews into a wave of new customers. For more helpful marketing tips for small businesses, contact us today!

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