Lesson 4: Getting Started with Google Customer Reviews

So far, we’ve covered:

Now, we’re moving on to Google customer reviews. This is one of the most important chapters of the entire 101 learning track.

Customer reviews have the power to propel your business to the top of search rankings and help build up credibility and trust with your customers.

Good reviews = more new customers = money in the bank.

The better reviews you receive, the more likely you are to rank higher on Google. In fact, Moz recently reported reviews as the #2 local search ranking factor behind GBP information (location, product/service tags), pulling ahead of proximity for the first time.

What's the local pack you say? The local pack (synonymous with “Map Pack”) consists of a shortlist of local business listings placed at or very near the top of a search results page.

The Map Pack has its own algorithm and its own set of rules, and it's a place where you absolutely want your business showing up on relevant search results.

For those who have followed along with our first three lessons, that means you’ve already taken a crucial step towards getting your business in front of prospective customers.

If you've skipped ahead, know that lessons 1-2 are key and we recommend addressing them before tackling reviews.

Research indicates that 97% of people are influenced by customer reviews when making buying decisions.

Within the topic of "reviews", there are two primary categories:

Review generation: getting more reviews

Review response: publishing responses to customer content

Let’s dive into how you should approach review generation and review response, as well as highlight how many reviews you should be getting monthly.

Review Generation

Getting people to leave feedback about your business largely depends on your ability to make that process as easy as possible for them. The effort required to leave feedback needs to be proportionate to their loyalty to your business (likely not much). The more clicks and pages your customers need to navigate in order to leave a review, the less likely they are to see it through.

Google provides a great, free, way to direct customers straight to your leave a review text box. All the customer needs to do is click the link they will land in the right spot.

To find the link navigate to your GBP account and find the "Share Review Form" on the homepage. Copy that link and send to customers via email or any other preferred communication method.

Widewail Tip: Add this link to your email signature.

Considering that 70% of consumers will leave a review for a business when asked, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be putting a review invitation in front of anyone that does business with you.

Our Complete Guide on getting more reviews explores this more, but your review goals will depend on the industry you work in, the size of your business, and the number of customers you get each week.

As a rule of thumb, your review volume should be around 10-20% of your total customer volume for a given month, if you ask every customer for a review. We highly recommend asking every customer for a review to maximize your chances.

Widewail Tip: If you have repeat customers don't ask them for a review more than once every 60 days. Not overusing SMS is the key to ensuring the medium is viable long term.

On average, consumers read 10 reviews before trusting a business. Additionally, 40% of consumers that read reviews only take into account reviews written within the past two weeks.

Putting those stats together, we recommend you aim for a minimum of 20 reviews a month (10 every two weeks). This will allow you to continually meet the basic needs of all prospects.

Review Response

As your reviews trickle in, it's important that you or a dedicated person monitor them and ensure each and everyone is getting a response. Ideally, every customer review should receive a personal, thoughtful response. A robotic "Thanks!" over and over again will not reflect positively on your company.

To help you stay on top of review response, try setting up Google Alerts to inform you whenever a new review is posted. This avoids reviews slipping through the cracks and not receiving a response.

When you receive a review, you should provide a response within 24-48 hours. While a simple, “Thank you” will suffice for glowing online feedback, you’ll need to spend a little more time crafting a thoughtful response to your unhappy customers. We cover negative review response techniques in GBP 201 Lesson 4.

Positive review response techniques

Personalize: Address the reviewer by name in the response. It's the easy way to make sure that the customer feels heard and makes it clear to a prospective customer the business isn't using a bot to respond. In some instances you will encounter reviewers that don't use their real name on their account, in which case leave out the name - we find it looks more professional.

Keywords: Adding the name of your location and business name into the response is a good way to add more keywords to your GBP.

Be specific: If the response mentions getting help fixing a flat tire, the response should too.

Phrases to steal:

  • makes our day
  • thank you so much for sharing
  • fantastic
  • grateful
  • validating
  • we appreciate the opportunity to earn your business
  • we look forward to working with you again next time

Sometimes, you’ll receive inappropriate review content that can be reported to Google. This could include review content that is fake, off-topic, illegal, offensive, or threatening. To report a Google review, go to the review you’d like to report. Click the vertical three dots in the top right-hand corner and then click “Flag as inappropriate.”

Google won't remove a review just because you flag it, but to have a shot at removing the review you'll need to flag it. Read Google's prohibited content rules.

WIDEWAIL TIP: While you should be focusing your review response efforts on Google customer reviews (since this is likely where the bulk of your reviews will come from), don’t forget to keep an eye on the industry-specific review websites relevant to your business. These niche platforms can have a relevant impact on your online reputation and visibility, so make sure you’re responding to reviews on all relevant sites.

How to Ask for Reviews

The Passive Ways

Asking for reviews shouldn't be a confrontational situation. Ideally, your customers should be able to leave a review without being explicitly asked to provide one. Of course, encouraging them to do so after buying a product or reading an article isn’t a bad idea. If you’re looking for a more hands-off method of asking for customer reviews, you can:

  • Have a ‘Review’ page on your website
  • Drop a review link on social media posts
  • Have a review form on any ‘Thank You’ pages
  • Add a QR code to receipts and/or invoices

The Active Ways

If you want to take a more proactive approach to review generation, there’s a handful of effective techniques to doing so. It can feel a little more daunting to plainly ask your customers for their thoughts on your business, but more often than not, they’ll be happy to provide some feedback. Some of the active ways you can ask for Google customer reviews include:

  • Asking customers in-person at your store
  • Pinging customers via SMS or email
  • Using direct messages on social media
  • Sending an email blast to previous customers

Take Control of Your Online Reviews

You have what it takes to bring in more reviews and ensure they’re mostly positive ones. So go out there and start putting these tips into practice. In our next lesson, we’ll be working to explain the different ways customers can communicate with you via Google and how you should be communicating with them.