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Online reviews build customer trust, help get you noticed, and even improve your search engine rankings. So, how do you go about getting people to review your small business on Google?
Customers use online reviews to help them make decisions on everything from pubs and restaurants to what product to buy, service to book, or tradesperson to choose.
In fact, a recent study found 87 per cent of consumers read online reviews of local businesses, with the most important review factors being star rating, legitimacy, and recency.
For a general overview, read our guide to online reputation management.
If you’re wondering how to get Google reviews and boost your ratings, here are some things you can try.
Before you can get Google reviews, you need to create your Google Business Profile (formally known as Google My Business).
It's a free tool that gets your business to appear in Google search results and maps, making your business more visible to potential customers. You’ll just need a Google account to get started, then you can set up your business profile with the following information:
Once set up, you’ll need to wait a few days for Google to verify your business (this is often through a verification card sent in the post).
Make sure you follow Google’s policies when it comes to reviews. You’re not allowed to give rewards or incentives to people for leaving reviews, and customers must be honest and unbiased.
You can create a short URL of your Google Business Profile reviews page to invite your customers to rate your business.
This can be useful for posting on social channels or including in your email footer to let customers know where to share their experience.
We all know that typically people won’t write reviews unprompted unless they had a terrible experience and want to warn others, or it was so good they want to influence other people’s buying decisions.
That said, research from BrightLocal shows that 72 per cent of consumers asked to write a review went on to do so – so people will be happy to share their positive experience if you ask them to.
A personal message goes a long way, so why not try emailing some of your most loyal customers (or even asking in person) and tell them you’d really appreciate them leaving a review.
Asking for a review when customers have just used your service or bought a product from you is when they’ll be most motivated to share their experience. If you sell products online, for example, you could send an email shortly after delivery to invite the buyer to leave a review.
How about sending an email to your customer list to boost your star rating? This can be a short and simple email that asks for a review and directs people straight to your Google reviews page.
Explain that you value customer feedback as it really helps you deliver the best possible service and supports other potential customers with their decisions. The idea of ‘writing a review’ can seem daunting, so emphasise it only takes a minute for them to share their experience.
Good, bad, or ugly, it’s important to reply to all your Google reviews. In fact, according to a study from Google, businesses that respond to reviews are 1.7x more trustworthy than businesses who don't.
There’s a way to do this though. Make sure your response is timely, considered, and honest. As a general rule of thumb, you should try to reply to all reviews within 24 hours as this shows customers you care.
Our guide on how to respond to online reviews goes into more detail, particularly when it comes to the slightly trickier way to approach negative reviews.
Already got some glowing customer reviews? Well done. Your next step is to create a buzz around what your customers are saying and encourage more people to share their experience too.
Showcasing customer testimonials is a valuable part of any marketing strategy as it brings an authentic, human element to your brand. It can be the reason why someone chooses you over a competitor.
When it comes to showing off your Google reviews, you could create a testimonials page on your website – you might even be able to embed your Google reviews straight into your site depending on what platform you use.
You can also make use of free poster templates and social posts with Google’s marketing kit to inspire other people to leave a review.
Why not print some small review cards to invite people to tell you what they think? Say something simple like ‘Love your order? Leave us a review’ and include it in your product packaging. Or display a ‘How did we do?’ card in your premises to prompt customers to give you their feedback.
Unsure where to start when it comes to design? Online tools like Canva feature a range of customisable templates you can use for free.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of bad Google reviews, chances are you probably can’t. Especially if it’s just because you disagree with it. However, if it’s inappropriate or violates Google’s policies, you can request to have it removed. Take a look through Google’s guidance on how to request review removal for more information.
As we mentioned above, your Google Business Profile is important for your local SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy. Beyond building positive customer reviews to help your business appear higher in local search results, you can also take advantage of these recent updates from Google:
Do you have any tips for increasing online customer reviews for small businesses? Let us know in the comments.
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Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.
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