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According to the 2018 Online Reviews Survey by ReviewTrackers, Google is outpacing other review platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook in terms of growth in online reviews.
Simply put: the search engine giant is dominating the review market.
- 64 percent of consumers say they are likely to check reviews on Google before visiting a business — more than any other review site.
- 21 percent agree that Google reviews are one of the most important factors in their search for a local business, ranking them as more influential than pricing information, proximity, and search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Google has also become the No. 1 site for online reviews, reinforcing the trend where sites that focus primarily on reviews (ex: Yelp and TripAdvisor) are experiencing less growth than sites where consumers are likely to already have user accounts (Google and Facebook), and therefore experience less friction in leaving reviews of businesses.
Why Try to Get Google Reviews?
Proactively requesting or asking customers for reviews — on Google or on any other review site — has become a go-to marketing strategy for top brands and businesses.
According to research, businesses that proactively request for reviews enjoy higher ratings (average of 4.34 stars) than those that simply wait for unprompted reviews (3.89 stars).
Asking customers for Google reviews also tends to produce reviews that have a higher percentage of 5-star ratings; these are likely to remain steady over time. Unprompted reviews, on the other hand, claim a larger share of 1-star ratings; over time, the overall rating tends to drop.
Of course, not all reviews generated by your “asks” are going to be positive. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Negative reviews can create structured opportunities for business improvement, while positive reviews can give you better guidance on what you are doing right.
The question is: how to get reviews on Google?
Requesting Google Reviews? First, Some Important Things to Remember
Before your business gets started with asking customers for reviews, please take into consideration these key points:
Claim your Google My Business profile. If you haven’t yet signed your business up on Google, do so immediately. Otherwise, you won’t be able to manage your business information on Google Maps and Search, or respond to the reviews that may come from your review requests.
Avoid review-gating. Google doesn’t want businesses to discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.
A practice commonly referred to as “review-gating”, it’s normally done by sending customers a feedback or survey form — be it through email, SMS, landing pages, or social media. Based on their form responses, customers are then asked to either post a review on Google if they had a positive experience, or share details of their feedback privately if they had a negative experience.
Remember: don’t selectively solicit. To stay compliant with Google review guidelines and the policies of today’s top review platform, as well as responsive to the ever-increasing demand for transparency and authenticity in reviews, make it clear that customers can leave you a negative review if they feel the need.
Respond to the reviews that you get. Customers care about being responded to. 53 percent of customers expect a review response within 7 days. But as much as 63 percent say that they have never even heard back from a business after leaving a review.
Your responses can immediately improve consumer perceptions of your business. On the other, not responding can increasingly be seen as actively ignoring customer feedback.
The impact of responding to reviews vs. not responding is even starker with the recent introduction of Google review response notifications. If your customers don’t get notified, they will think that you have ignored their review — the review that your business worked hard to generate.
Don’t incentivize. If you’re asking customers to review your business, don’t give them rewards or incentives of any sort. Government agencies and regulators like the FTC are cracking down on companies that incentivize reviews.
Remember: incentivizing reviews, even if there’s no requirement that the review should be positive, is frowned upon.
Don’t buy Google reviews. An even worse practice is buying Google reviews. This is an attempt to game the system, one that you should not make.
In the current market, service providers left and right are offering “5-star review services,” promising “quality work” with “full completed (Google) profiles and realistic photo-attached accounts.” These providers also say that the “review accounts and profiles are always USA, UK, CA, or AU.”
While it sounds like a great, cost-effective solution for propelling your business to the top of relevant search results, buying Google reviews will almost certainly do your business more harm than good.
First of all, the practice is against Google review guidelines. And the FTC and regulators will surely come after you. Companies that were caught have been slapped hefty fines and penalties for buying fake reviews; same goes for the providers selling these services as part of their “reputation enhancement” offering.
Instead of buying Google reviews in order to improve your rankings and drum up business, make the commitment to earn authentic reviews and candid feedback on Google.
8 Ways to Get Google Reviews
Here are some effective tips for businesses wondering how to get Google reviews and build up their online presence:
Download the free Review Handout Generator. Simply fill out the form here to generate the printable handout in PDF form. After you enter your business information, we will E-mail you the handout, which comes with easy instructions for your customers on how to leave reviews of your business on Google. Print, give away to happy customers, and watch a community of advocates build hype for your business.
Use #SmallThanks with Google. The Small Thanks with Google website lets you create, download, and print personalized marketing materials and turn your reviews and business information into ready-to-use social posts, stickers, posters, and more.
The messaging in these materials centers around promoting your business using customer testimonials, or requesting customers to find your business on Google and share their photos and reviews on the site.
Design a landing page to get more Google reviews. You can create your own dedicated landing page to encourage customers to be more vocal about their experiences.
These landing pages can be facilitated through the use of review generation software, survey forms, an embedded reviews widget (with a Google review button) on your company website — or you can also build one for your own.
Once you have set it up, identify key touch points at which you can most effectively drive customers to the page. You can even share the link to the page across your social media profiles or give customers a friendly reminder in post-transactional situations.
Harness the power of email. Do you collect customer email addresses at the point of sale or care? If so, then you’ll quickly realize that email is one of the most effective customer feedback tools today.
Here at ReviewTrackers, we even developed the Ask Tool in ways that help businesses easily request Google reviews and feedback via email.
You can also integrate your Google review requests into your monthly newsletters. If you’re sending a message to your customers, be sure to add a link to your Google business listing so that it will only take them a few clicks to share their experience.
Create a link for customers to write Google reviews. Creating a unique link and sharing it to your customers encourages them to review your business on Google. Follow the step-by-step guide here.
Don’t forget to share the link on your social media profiles, in e-mail campaigns, printed receipts or customer feedback surveys, or whenever and wherever customers are likely to leave a review.
Empower your employees. Simply training your current and new employees to remember to request for reviews towards the end of a customer’s visit to your business can work wonders.
Remember to keep the pitch simple. “We’re so glad you came in today. Would you mind reviewing our business on Google? Your feedback helps us know how we did today, and how we can deliver an even better experience for you next time.”
Or: “If you enjoyed your visit today… we love getting reviews on Google.” Receptive customers will think about writing a Google review even if this is one of the few things you train your employees to say in post-transactional situations.
Another point: if you’re hoping to encourage your team to request reviews from customers, consider “incentivizing” their efforts. You may incentivize based on overall rating scores, the number of review requests sent, the number of reviews generated, or a combination of all three.
Offering incentives is a great way to build trust and reward employees’ positive behavior. It also helps your business achieve higher adoption rates of the software or technology in which you may have invested.
Stay responsive. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of responding to reviews. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, businesses begin to get 12 percent more reviews when they start responding to existing ones. Responsiveness also leads to an increase in overall ratings by 0.12 stars.
Make your customers happy. Perhaps the easiest, most effective, and most fundamental way to get Google reviews with five-star ratings is to consistently deliver excellent levels of service and create “wow” moments with customers.
If, on the other hand, you have customers who are not satisfied or happy with their experience, and are therefore likely to post negative reviews instead of positive, then make a point to reach out to them and identify and address issues.