When you comparison-shop for a service or product, do you read Google reviews and pay attention to a business’s star rating? Of course, you do! As a business owner, do you pay attention to your Google reviews? You should! When your stars don’t match your real world reputation, it’s time to start getting reviews to boost your Google ranking!
Positive word of mouth has always been the gold standard of marketing. Potential customers will take the word of a family member or trusted friend over any other form of advertising. In the digital age, this still holds true. So what’s your strategy to boost your Google ranking? Do you:
- Take a “que sera, sera” attitude?
- Buy the best reviews you can find?
We don’t recommend either of these strategies. The first leaves your business vulnerable to chance. Really? Is that your attitude toward hiring and training employees? Do you simply hire the first person to come along regardless of their qualifications? If you don’t leave your other business decisions to chance, why would you leave word of mouth marketing to the whims of customers?
On the other extreme, it’s never a good idea to buy phony reviews to post online. As soon as your business practice is exposed—and it will be!—your reputation is toast. So let’s look at the middle ground: consistently and ethically asking happy customers to review your business.
Why Positive Reviews Matter
Before we discuss how to approach customers for a review, let’s explore why you should. Positive Google reviews absolutely matter, both in the real world and online. You don’t need us to tell you that. But studies of online consumer behavior underscore just how powerful reviews can be. Consumers really do read reviews—roughly a whopping 85% of them!
Okay, but does that actually affect consumer behavior? You bet it does! Six reviews or less is all two-thirds of consumers need to make up their minds about a business. You really need to pay attention to your Google reviews!
And there’s more!
As more reviews have become verified, studies indicate that nearly 90% of consumers find them trustworthy. Negative reviews do have the power to change people’s minds, discouraging some 80% of them from buying a product.
Before you write off online reviews as a hopeless endeavor, research studies also show some bright spots. Another study showed that while 86% of the research subjects said that negative reviews impacted their decisions, 90% indicated that positive reviews also impacted their decisions.
And before you resign yourself to believing that negative reviews will always outnumber positive ones, Ipsos Loyalty discovered that people are more apt (by 4 percentage points) to share good experiences than bad ones with friends or family. That bias carries over to online reviews.
No Sooner Read Than Done
Everything on the Internet happens at warp speed. Consumers are used to making snap judgments. Researchers tell us that by the time consumers read Google reviews, they’ve already decided on a product or service. They read reviews to find out about the businesses that provide the product or service they’re looking for.
These consumers don’t waste any time making a decision. They read your reviews, and it’s an immediate thumbs-up or thumbs-down. You get their business, or they click on someone else’s website. It’s as simple and quick as that.
There’s no room for error. You need good Google reviews.
The New Word of Mouth
Granted, your only control over traditional word-of-mouth marketing was to treat your customers right and provide top rate products or services. At best, you could suggest to your happy customer to tell others about your business. Unless your next customer told you who recommended you, you had no way to know how well word of mouth was serving you.
Treating your customers right and providing quality products or services hasn’t changed. However, in the digital age, you can track word-of-mouth advertising in the form of Google reviews, but tracking is only the first step. The next step is doing something to improve your reviews.
Reviews and Ranking
Like it or not your online reviews have an impact on your ranking. Improving your reviews will boost your Google ranking. That’s in part because Google, along with other local search platforms, are thought to base roughly 10% of your search ranking on your online reviews.
If ten percent doesn’t impress you as enough to worry about, consider the ripple effect of your Google reviews. First, it impacts your ranking, and then your ranking has an impact with bottom line implications for your business:
- Your ranking impacts your business’s visibility in a search.
- Only rankings high enough to get you noticed (you want to be on the first page of search) give you a chance to get clicked on.
- You have to get clicked on before a customer purchases something.
Don’t lose out on the power of Google reviews!
Where to Spread the Word
Beyond Google specifically, there are a number of platforms that provide reviews, all of which can factor into your search rankings, so you need to know how each one handles reviews and follow their policies. Within any constraints for a platform, you’ll want to steer your customers to the review platforms that make the most sense for your business. Here are a couple of the most common platforms and their policies:
- Google+ Local: Google summarizes their policy this way: “Make sure that the reviews on your business listing, or those that you leave at a business you’ve visited, are honest representations of the customer experience. Those that aren’t may be removed.”
- Facebook: Facebook tells potential reviewers: “Ratings and reviews must follow the Facebook Community Standards, focus on the product or service offered by the page, and be based on personal experience.” Bear in mind that a “like” on Facebook is not the same as a review.
Trip Advisor, Yelp, YP, Foursquare, and other local search platforms have similar policies. In general, you cannot impersonate someone else. A business cannot submit a review of itself in the guise of a customer, for example. Businesses cannot pay customers for positive reviews, and although reviews can be negative, they cannot use abusive language.
Asking Customers for Reviews
So how do you go about getting customers to take the time to submit a written review online? You might be surprised to learn that even in the digital age asking in person is the preferred method. When you are concluding a positive interaction with a customer that’s the best opportunity to make the request. Soliciting a Google review can be that easy!
Asking customers in person assumes you have a brick-and-mortar business. If your business is primarily or exclusively online, you can follow up with customers via email. You will want to prescreen customers to find those who had a good experience, just as you wouldn’t ask an upset customer to review your business.
All You’ve Got to Do Is Call
We’ve covered a lot of ground, and by now you might be on overload. Don’t panic! We’re here to help you figure out a strategy to boost your Google ranking while keeping your good name. You don’t take unethical shortcuts in your business practices, and neither do we.
Solutio can assist you with assessing your current ranking and devising a strategy to improve your Google reviews. We can help you put the technology in place to make it easier for your customers to put their kind words online where it matters. That way, you can stay focused on your customers, ensuring that they’ll share positive comments about your business.
Contact us to set up a consultation. With the right strategy, you’ll watch your positive customer reviews boost your Google ranking.
All you have to do is ask!