As an SEO Manager that specializes in all things local, one of the most common questions I get from clients both large and small is “How do I generate more Google reviews for my business?”
Advantages of Having Reviews
Here’s the reality: the majority of your potential customers look to family and friends for recommendations on new products or services they are considering.
Potential customers even trust the reviews and feedback of strangers to validate taking action online — whether that’s making a purchase or filling out a form. Online reviews build trust, so what your customers say on Google, Yelp, or Facebook matters.
There is no debating that frequent, genuine online reviews from your customers, new and old, can contribute to increased visibility and even increased conversions from search traffic.
Vendasta published an infographic titled 50 Stats You Need to Know About Online Reviews. It does a great job illustrating customer reviews’ impact on any online business. Here are a few of my favourite stats from that infographic:
- 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews, vs. 29% in 2014
- 26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews
- 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
- 23% will visit the business premises directly after reading positive reviews
- 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores
Keeping these stats in mind, did you know that only 23% of consumers have actually written a review online?
While online reviews are an important part of the conversion process (turning web visitors into customers), it’s apparent that once a visitor becomes a customer, they’ll need a gentle nudge or reminder to share their feedback in the form of a review.
This is why review generation (and response management) should be a part of every business’s marketing process.
Yes, actively soliciting customer reviews may also increase the number of negative reviews you get, but as per the last statistic point above, having a few negative reviews sprinkled throughout your profile may actually help make your business appear more “real.”
Which Review Websites Have The Most Impact in Search?
The answer to this question will vary depending on the region and location of the person searching, but for the sake of time here is a list of the more popular and first-page-visible review websites in Canada:
Though we’ll only be walking you through generating more reviews within Google My Business / Google Maps, the same techniques can be applied across any of the major third-party networks.
Pro-tip #1: It’s highly recommended that you set up profiles on the above networks as these pages will almost always show up on the first-page search results, as well you’ll get a nice authoritative backlink to your website.
Benefits of Google Review:
It won’t surprise anyone to hear that Google is the number one search engine on the planet. To put that into perspective here are some Google search statistics:
- Google gets about 63, 000 searches per second
- Google gets about 78% of all desktop search traffic
- Google also gets 89% of all mobile search traffic
- 46% of searches Google gets are related to local searches
What all this means is that if you are on Google and rank high, be it for search or local listing, you are bound to get more brand awareness.
So, why do most people around the globe use Google over other search engines? The answer is simple; people trust Google.
This trust was built over time by continuously striving to become the best search engine that provides the most relevant results for the searcher’s query. Here are some of the benefits of a Google Review:
1. Google Reviews increase brand trust
Just as we discussed earlier; Google puts high emphasis on being able to provide the most relevant content for the searcher’s query.
This means your searches are going to return the best possible results. Over time, this has created trust within people to the point that if you appear higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), people trust you are the best in the industry.
About 88% of people read Google reviews before doing business with a company.
These days if your customer is not satisfied with the service or product they received, they may likely threaten to leave a bad review in the hope of having their needs met.
This illustrates just how valuable positive Google reviews are to your business, as customers are now aware of their value and using them as leverage.
2. Google Review increases exposure
When it comes to Google reviews, several factors affect your position in local or map searches:
- Review quality
- Average Rating
- Frequency of new reviews
- Diversity of ratings
Based on these metrics, your position in search results may vary. Your business can reach more potential customers just by appearing on top of the local or map search, and more exposure means more conversions.
Therefore it’s in your best interest to optimize your business listing and encourage your customers to leave a review.
3. Google Reviews gives you feedback to improve upon
One advantage of online reviews is that you can receive both good and bad feedback.
While business owners would probably prefer to avoid negative reviews altogether, they offer valuable insight into potential areas of improvement.
Through monitoring the positive and negative feedback customers provide through reviews, business owners can look for areas to improve and capitalize on what customers are responding well to.
4. Google Reviews can increase conversions
Google reviews help potential customers decide whether or not they want to purchase your product or use your service before they visit your website or store.
By showing them reviews from others who have frequented your business, potential customers can form an opinion on your business and decide whether to make a purchase.
97% of people go through your review before deciding to visit your store or website. If someone is unsure whether your business will be a good fit for them, feedback from Google reviews may likely be what helps them decide either way.
5. Google Reviews can be shared on other platforms
You can also utilize positive reviews to promote your business further.
Doing this can increase your reach and convince people to consider your business.
This can be done by sharing your reviews and brand story and then positively connecting them. You can also create video testimonials from loyal customers and brand advocates that can be shared on social media or embedded on your website.
6. Google Reviews can increase ranking
As we have discussed above, Google tends to increase the ranking of businesses with a high frequency of positive reviews.
Each review is user-generated content that may include keywords, images, and video. This is often enough content for Google to decide the ranking of your business. The quantity and frequency of reviews also play crucial roles in your ranking.
Generating Your Google Review Link
Creating a direct link to your Google My Business review window can be accomplished in several ways. To keep things simple, here are the instructions to create a review link within Google itself:
- Go to the Google Places API.
- Enter your business name in the “Enter a location” field at the top of the map.
- Click your business name in the list that appears.
- Your Place ID will appear on the map, beneath your business name.
Add your Place ID to the following URL after the equals sign to create your link:
Using TechWyse as the example above, the URL with the Place ID added would be:
When you click the link above it will take you to a Google search result page for your business with the review window popped open.
Pro-tip #2: Track the usage of your review link and make it more user-friendly by utilizing Google’s URL shortening service. This will allow you to see how many people have clicked the link and the countries, browsers, and platforms used.
The 10 Best Ways to Get Real Google Reviews Starting Today
1. Ask for a review
This is something that should be communicated to all departments within your business, especially client-facing roles.
You’d be surprised how many businesses don’t think to ask for a review. My dentist has printouts on the walls of his examination rooms and at the front reception desk.
2. Educate your customers on leaving a review
Either have a printout available at your front desk or even consider creating a page or blog post on your website with instructions on leaving a Google review.
For many people, the barrier between leaving a review or not is simply their lack of idea of how to do it.
Pro-tip #3: Many customers believe that a 4-star review is still a great one, but business owners know that even glowing 4-star reviews can drag down their rating. Along with explaining how to leave a review, mention the importance of leaving a 5-star review.
3. Personalize the review experience
To a recent or long-time customer, getting a personal email from a business owner can make all the difference in the world. Though it may take some time to craft up unique emails, the conversion rate should be worth it.
4. Simplify the process
Connecting to Point #2, keep the process of leaving a review as simple as possible. Bullet point instructions with hyperlinked text.
Even copying and pasting instructions directly from Google My Business can be beneficial, as Google typically keeps their support content short and sweet.
5. Utilize third-party tools
If you operate a franchise model business or have several locations across the country, soliciting and managing reviews can become very time-consuming.
This is where third-party tools like Whitespark or partnering with an SEO agency like TechWyse can help expedite the process.
6. Multiple touch points
Post instructions for leaving a review on Facebook, ask your customers in-store and remind them when they call on the phone.
Be sure that no matter what touchpoint they reach you at, they are being kindly asked to provide feedback in the form of a review.
7. Offer an incentive
While it is against review policy to solicit reviews or set up review stations, it can still be achieved.
Just keep it tasteful, and don’t overdo it. Occasionally offering a coupon or discount for a good or bad review can help keep the new reviews coming in, especially if you roll it into a contest.
8. Respond to reviews
This should be very self-explanatory. When customers see that the business owner regularly responds to feedback left on Google, they will be more inclined to want to share their feedback as they know someone will be reading it.
9. Email signature
Adding a simple call to action like this in your default email signature can generate a decent amount of reviews on its own.
Think about how many emails you send each month. Adding a link to your signature can be the easiest way to boost your review count.
Generating new reviews for your business shouldn’t be a painful process. Keep it simple, remind your customers, and show them how to do it.
Incorporating this into your marketing campaigns and communicating the importance of this across your organization is often all that’s needed to go from zero to hero in a short period of time.