If your business is on Google, your Google Reviews are important.
With this guide you can build your trustworthiness, reputation, and search ranking results with two key concepts:
- Getting more Google Reviews
- Getting better Google Reviews
It’s a tactic that I’ve personally used to get more Google Reviews and increase 4–5 star ratings by over 6,014% (all from real customers) for a past employer. So, let’s get started.
1. Understand the Importance of Google Reviews
Think about how many times you’ve chosen to visit a new restaurant, buy tickets for a show, order a product, or hire a service provider based on online reviews. Everyone wants the best value for their money, and so we give our business to companies that we trust will provide it.
If you refer to the picture above, this is something that the CN Tower’s reviews communicate perfectly. If 9,500 people rated this as a 4.5 star experience on average, you can trust that you’ll get a worthwhile experience there too. But if it was only rated 2-stars, or only had 1 review, would you second-guess making the visit? What kind of first impression do you want to give to your prospective customers?
When it comes to landing a new customer, your Google Reviews could be the make-or-break factor. Here are some reasons why:
What’s more? On top of signalling value and building trust, your Google Reviews also impact the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website.
How can Having More Google Reviews Help for SEO?
If we go back to the basics, SEO is all about affecting the visibility of your website in the unpaid results section of a search engine results page (SERP). You want users to be able to find you when they’re looking for you, and be able discover you when they have a need or want that you can fulfill.
Take a look at the image below…
The local/map results above are known as a Local 3 Pack. Google will display what it thinks are the 3 most relevant listings here, just under paid ads and right above your traditional organic search results.
How do you get into the top 3? A 2017 study by Moz.com, showed that Review Signals (review quantity, review velocity, review diversity, etc.) accounted for 13% of Google’s ranking decisions. For traditional localized organic results, Review Signals accounted for 7% of Google’s ranking decisions.
This is a great opportunity for your business to get found and be visited — especially if your Google Reviews are higher (both in quality and quantity) than your competitors.
For a more extensive overview on how online reviews impact local SEO and your business, this Shopify article provides great info.
Now, let’s get into the tactics I used to increase 4–5 stars reviews for one website by 6,014% (and still increasing)
2. Set Up a Flow to Get More Google Reviews
First thing’s first — you need to have a Google My Business listing set up. If you don’t already have that, Google has instructions for you here.
Get a Direct Link (Make it Easier For Customers to Review)
Start by making it as easy as possible for your customers to leave a review.
You can do this by getting a direct link to your Google Reviews page. We’ll use John the Plumber as our example here:
1 — Search for your Google My Business name on Google. You should see something like the results in Figure 1 below (if you’re having trouble finding it, try adding in the location of your business as well).
2 — Click on the “x Google reviews” link as shown below.
3 — Once the review pane is open, click “Write a review”. If you weren’t already signed into a Google Account, you’ll be prompted to do that now. Users must have/sign into a Google Account to leave Google Reviews.
4 — Copy the URL. You’ll use this to create a direct link for your customers to leave you reviews.
Test your link by opening a new tab and pasting it in the search bar. Your SERP should appear, followed by the “Rate and review” pane after a 1–2 second delay. Now leaving reviews is extremely simple for customers.
I’ll show one way to distribute this link, but if you plan on using multiple vehicles to deliver this to your customers, you may want a trackable link.
Know When, Who, and How to Ask for a Review
I’ll show my favorite way to do this with email marketing (next section), but all businesses are different. There are four rules that should apply across the board though:
- Ask for a review after the service has been consumed, after the product has likely been used, or after significant results have been delivered (for ongoing services, such as digital marketing).
- Ask happy customers for public reviews; collect feedback from the unhappy ones.
- Keep it convenient. If you don’t already have your customers’ emails, think about how you can get them (like running an email contest) or how to get them to your review page in-person if that’s your only option. In cases like this, if the review isn’t done on the spot, it probably won’t get done at all. For example, a restaurant could use a store iPad and ask happy customers to leave a review while giving them the bill; if you wait to ask until they get home, or much later, it will probably never happen.
- Keep it honest. Never pay for reviews or promise a customer something in exchange for a 5-star review. You can offer incentives or run contests for filling out reviews, but it shouldn’t be contingent on their rating or what they say about you.
Finally, let’s look at the email flow that ties this all together.
3. Create a Good vs. Bad Experience Email Flow
This is where you can put everything together to start getting constant and highly-rated reviews from your customers.
1 — Draft an email template that has two flows: good experiences and bad experiences.
Here’s a quick example inspired by our plumber friends above.
The key things to include are two images, each plainly indicating a good or a bad experience, and a clear call to action for requesting feedback.
You should be able to create this simple design in any email marketing tool. If you don’t have one yet, this article has a bunch of free options.
Next is where it all comes together:
For the “good experience image”, attach the Google Review link you created to send happy customers to your public reviews (in this case, the link would be attached to our happy face).
For the “bad experience” image, attach a link that directs to a separate customer feedback form for negative experiences. You’ll need to create this as well, and you can make one in under 10 minutes with a free online survey tool like Survey Monkey or Google Forms.
In the customer feedback survey for negative experiences you can ask questions to see where you went wrong. You can then use this information to address your company’s mistakes and fix them for the future. Express your sincere apologies for the customer’s poor experience at the start of the survey, keep it relatively short, consider including at least one open-ended question so that the respondent can adequately express what happened, and make sure to collect/confirm their contact info in the survey so that you can reach back out to them after. If you have trouble thinking of questions to include, you can find plenty of templates to follow online.
Following this will funnel allow you to address the four points we discussed above (send at a good time, ask the happy customers, keep it convenient and keep it honest) and turn it into a digital flow that you can automatize.
2 — Use an Engaging Subject Line
This is an obvious one, but to get clicks you need opens. Use something engaging that will prompt an open — just make sure it’s still relevant.
For example: “ Your service is complete, just one last thing…”
Try a different combination of subject lines until you find one that works best for your business.
3 — Turn Bad Experiences into Good Experiences
Using pictures in your email to funnel recipients makes interacting fun and easy, but is also largely there to protect your Google Reviews from customers who may be unnecessarily angry with the service they received.
Often poor customer experiences are fixable or are the result of misunderstandings. Take their feedback seriously and see how you can resolve whatever problems they may have encountered. This can include giving them a discount on the next service, discounting or making the service they received free of charge, or returning to fix a poor job. If it was only their first poor experience with the company, then successfully managing it can actually produce a more delighted customer than one who received proper treatment the first time (just make sure it doesn’t become an ordinary thing). Then, you can ask for a Google Review.
4. Have Rock-star Customer Service — Ending Notes
At the end of the day, this is what it’s all about. Even if you’re sending only happy customers to your reviews, you need to provide 5-star service to consistently get that 5-star rating.
The reason this email flow worked so well for my past employer was that they provided great value to their customers and put incredible care into their customer service, which showed immensely in their reviews.
Pay close attention to your negative feedback. If you notice trends, make some changes to ensure that no future customers will encounter such troubles.
Engage with your reviewers, treat both the good and poor ones kindly, and strive to set a leading example for your local or online business.
Want to Ask a Question or Connect?
If you have any questions, or just want to connect, feel free to contact me here.
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