2020 has pushed small businesses to develop their online presence more than ever before. Most small business owners know that an SEO-optimized website and solid social media presence are necessary to drive traffic to their products and services. Positive Google reviews are one element of a digital marketing strategy that is often overlooked. Cultivating this portion of your digital presence is a relatively simple way to dramatically increase your traffic and sales.
What are Google Reviews?
Google reviews are part of business listings on Google Maps. Google lists a business’s name, location, basic info, and customer reviews under a feature called Google Business Profiles. This listing appears anytime someone searches Google for a local business. Patrons can easily add their reviews to this Business Profile and that review will then be visible to future searchers as part of the Profile. Anyone can create a Business Profile if one doesn’t already exist for that business.
It’s important to note that there is a separate, but related, feature called Google My Business Accounts. Creating a free account allows you to directly manage your Business Profile after you go through some verification steps proving that you are the business owner. This lets you customize the Profile by adding photos, special offers, and making sure that your hours and pricing are accurate. This does not allow you to alter Google Reviews in any way – once a customer posts a review, it is permanent unless Google flags it for inappropriate content or spam.
Why do Google Reviews Matter?
More reviews on Google help your Business Profile rank higher in the search results. This means that if a customer searching “auto repair” on Google Maps, she will see the highest-ranked Business Profile at the top of her screen. Businesses that appear in the top 3 on local search results are likely to have at least eight Google reviews.
In 2020, 87% of customers read local reviews when searching for a business or product. Local business listings are no longer an option- it’s expected.
Google Reviews gets far more traffic than competing review sites. Google Reviews had over 153 million inquiries in 2019, compared to 85.6 million at Facebook Business. While it’s a good idea to grow your digital presence across multiple sits, Google is the front-runner when customers search for local businesses.
How to Get More Positive Google Reviews
In some ways, Google Reviews are much like traditional word-of-mouth business recommendations. Customers generally like to leave positive reviews of businesses that gave them fantastic service. While spontaneous reviews do happen, you don’t want to rely on them exclusively.
The most effective way to get google reviews is to simply ask for them. Google allows you to create a personalized link that you can include on your website, email lists, and social profiles. Reminding your customers to leave a Google review and making it convenient to do so will make it far more likely to get the reviews you need.
Another way to encourage new reviewers is by commenting on the reviews you already have. Thanking customers for their reviews and trying to resolve the concerns of those who left negative reviews goes a long way to showing customers that you are engaged.
Google does not permit business owners to compensate customers for leaving positive reviews.
This past year underscored the centrality of digital marketing for small businesses. Business owners who already had a strong website and online ordering options – or were able to develop them quickly – were more likely to keep customers. Encouraging positive Google reviews is an inexpensive and simple way to build your business in 2021 and beyond.