Online business reviews (a.k.a. social proof) matter. If you’re not paying attention AND if you don’t have a plan to cultivate legitimate, positive reviews from happy customers, you are falling behind.
Whether you like it or not, your potential customers will judge you based on your star ranking and experiences that your customers (and sometimes – nefariously competitors and prospective customers) have shared online.
If someone you know recommends something to you, you’re more likely warm up to it.
I’m going to tell you about how you can use social proof to boost your business.
Google Reviews are the norm. Yes, there are other review sites you should be garnering reviews for. We’ll cover those in later posts.
3 Steps To Google Review Domination
- Why you need more positive Google Reviews,
- How to go about getting more positive Google Reviews, and
- How one of our clients successfully earned more positive Google Reviews.
First, let’s begin with why you should even care about any of this.
1. Why You Need More Positive Google Reviews
Much of what follows this paragraph may seem intuitive and obvious. You want more 5-star reviews on the world’s largest search engine.
a) Your Customers Trust Reviews
Research is part of the buyer’s journey. The Internet can be a wasteland of useless or misleading information.
What do you trust? The answer: Other people’s experiences – especially when there is the genuine consensus!
Studies show that 70% of people are more likely to buy a product after reading product reviews. People are 12 times more likely to trust user reviews than the product descriptions on a manufacturer’s site.
Digital reviews – the ones you see on Google, Yelp or other places – are just as powerful as personal recommendations.
In a study by BrightLocal, 88% of respondents felt that consumer reviews were as strong, useful and credible as a peer recommending them something personally.
Perhaps people feel someone you don’t know is a bit more objective than someone you do know. I mean, we could go on all day about consumer behavior and intuition.
What you need to know is that your customers will look at reviews of your business before making a buying decision.
b) Why Google Reviews And Not Yelp Reviews?
This post is about getting more online reviews. Not just any online reviews, but Google reviews.
Even though Yelp has been around since 2004 and Google launched Local Search in 2012, Google is the big dog in the house. When you search something, it’s in Google and thanks to Google Knowledge Graph, the number of reviews and star rating of reviews is clearly viewable.
I won’t dismiss the impact of Yelp on making a buying decision. The Yelp result (if your business has a Yelp profile) will be on the first page. Yelp reviewers are a unique breed. Yelp does a lot to make sure every review is as legitimate as possible.
Yet, given that people read from left to right, they’ll see the Google Reviews portion first.
How heavily they value Google over Yelp or vice versa is up to the individual.
c) Google Local Guides
While Yelp reviewers are an active bunch, Google unveiled its own rival platform to Yelp and TripAdvisor a few years ago called Local Guides. The goal was to establish a community of reviewers who know exactly where all the great stuff is.
Within it, you can review establishments and receive free storage and insider news in return.
Originally a 1-5 Level system, Google has extended that to 10. At one time, you could earn up to 1TB of free storage in Google Drive. However, Google has partially nixed that since.
Imagine if you had a Level 5 or Level 10 Google Local Guide give you a 5-star rating? In fact, if you get a review from a Google Local Guide, it’ll show in your reviews!
However, Google is still trying to figure out this program. They’ve added and improved it in recent years but there’s still a ways to go.
While Yelp has a similar system, we’ll cover Yelp in its entirety along with how to get more positive Yelp reviews in a later post.
Adding to all of that, our agency is Yelp Ads Certified.
So we’re not detracting from Yelp. We’re just focusing on Google reviews in this post.
Let’s begin with making sure your business is listed by Google.
2. How To Go About Getting More Positive Google Reviews
a) Control Your Google My Business Listing
- i) The most important step is to check to see if you have a Google My Business listing.
- ii) Have you claimed and do you control your Google My Business listing? Is there only one Google My Business listing for your business (as opposed to having duplicate or otherwise multiple listings for the same business for the same location)? If the answer is no to either, you’ll want to read our post on How to Create, Claim, and Optimize a Google My Business profile.
From your Google My Business account, you can also respond to the reviews. Ensure that you verify your listing and fill out as much information about your business as possible.
b) Make The Ask
If there’s anything you learned from your elementary school teacher or from your parents growing up, you never get anything if you don’t ask.
Wayne Gretzky famously quipped “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. You’ll never find out the answer to your question if you don’t ask it.
Similarly, you’ll never get a review from a customer if you don’t ask them for one.
The first step is making that ask. If you provide services, this could be a point-of-sale opportunity. It could be right at the end of providing the service.
By the way, do you ever notice how when you go to a restaurant, your server, more often than not, will most positively interact with you while you are paying your bill? Whether that yields a strong return for them is a whole other question.
One thing is for sure: Timing is important. We’ll cover timing in greater detail later in this post.
Another point you should know: Yelp discourages business owners from asking for a review. Google, on the other hand, openly encourages this.
c) Establish Who Makes The Ask
The ask can be made by an employee. It could also be automated and be requested by a review platform. We’ll get into the latter a bit later.
However, it’s important that you establish who in your company is making the ask. If you are a service-based company, like I mentioned earlier, ask for the review after the service is performed. 3-5 days after service is performed is a good habit to follow.
Depending on the size and structure of your company, this might mean it’s your administrative staff who take care of payment and things of the like.
If you offer a product, ask for it after the product has been received, post-checkout. That could mean 3-5 business days after the product has been received. You’ll need to give them time to use it. Get a sales representative or administrative staff member to make the ask.
Don’t Offer A Reward For A Review!
I’ve seen some businesses openly offer a reward/incentive for reviewing them. We know of a business that offers free movie ticket vouchers in exchange for a review.
This is a big no-no. While it’s unlikely anyone of importance will penalize you for this, as long as they keep this offline and strictly word-of-mouth – still, don’t do it!
If the public becomes aware of this, your reviews will be discredited right away. People would perceive those reviews as illegitimate because who really knows what the experience is like dealing with you!
Ensure Employees Know When To Ask And How To Ask
I was in Australia earlier this year and I took an Uber to the airport upon leaving the country. I made the request on my phone from my Uncle’s house. My Uber driver asked me this simple question about 30 seconds before he dropped me off: “Will it be you who leaves the review?”
Did he know I was going to leave a review? Or did he just force me to leave one subconsciously without asking for it? I suppose there was a chance that my Uncle could leave a review but I’m sure he knew it would be me doing the heavy lifting on this one.
Either way, I knew this was part of an internal Uber process. It’s also in his best interest because highly-rated Uber drivers get more customers.
How your employees ask for a customer review is:
Set Up A Reviews System
This is a 2-part section, recognizing that there are 2 ways to implement a reviews system in your company. The ask can be employee-driven, as we’ve illustrated so far to this point.
Your employee delivers service, makes the ask and makes the ask at the right time. Someone can get the link that takes you to where you would leave a Google Review and send that to the customer.
The review ask can also be AUTOMATED. This is the part I’m going to elaborate further on.
Use A Reviews Management Platform
The tech industry has seized the opportunity in optimizing the social proof request process for businesses. With that said, there are a lot of companies out there who do this – Podium, GetFiveStars, ProofMe and more.
We’ve got experience with a few.
We use a reputation management platform that specializes in getting more positive reviews on the Internet for our clients.
For you – the goal of any reviews management platform is to help you turn your own customers into a powerful marketing tool for your company.
From within reviews software, you can trigger an email or SMS message to someone asking for a review. The user clicks on the call-to-action inside the email or SMS message and they are taken to the place they can leave a review.
One click is all it takes. Simple for you, the business owner and simple for the customer.
3. How Our Clients Earned More Positive Google Reviews With A Reviews Management Platform
One of our clients got onto the reviews platform we use earlier this year. That client has since gone from sitting at 8 Google Reviews to 39 Google Reviews, at the time of writing this post. What’s even better is that all of those are 5-star reviews. ALL.
They have a process whereby they send an email to the patient 1 day after their appointment.
Here’s the email:
The subject line is an open question. “How was your appointment?”
You’ll notice that even the email address is customizable.
A smart idea is to send these to your most loving clients/customers. At our agency, we call an action like this a ‘quick win’.
Of course, you’ll have to deliver great service to get that review. Every review is earned.
To summarize, these are the two pillars for Google Review success:
- Deliver great service
- Automate your review request process
Inside Our Online Reputation Management System
The reviews platform we use can be quite easy to navigate through.
You can upload your list of customers or add them individually. Then, you can send them a review request email.
A couple clicks from your receptionist’s mouse and you’ll have sent out review requests to your customers.
Here’s what the main dashboard looks like:
You can view all of your reviews, across different platforms right from within our reviews management software. You can even reply to them within it. No more going into Yelp or Google to reply to someone.
Review Reports in the Reviews Management Platform
From within BirdEye’s reports dashboard, you can track your reviews over time.
You can even track review sentiment – comparisons between the quality of reviews you receive.
Make Google Reviews Work For Your Business
Here are some simple facts we’ve established:
- Viewing online reviews are part of the buying process.
- A searcher will see Google Reviews first upon a Google search
- A searcher will establish an impression upon consuming the number of reviews, overall review rating and the reviews themselves.
- More positive Google Reviews can lead to more business
It’s vital that you take the steps we’ve mentioned:
- Make the review ask.
- Establish who will be asking for a review and how.
- Create a reviews system and automate the process.
- Don’t offer rewards for leaving a review.
- Let the greatness of your product or service do the talking.
Follow these steps and you’ll be raking in the 5-star Google Reviews in no time.
Have you tried implementing a review request system for your business before? What challenges have you run into? Leave a comment below and we’ll reply as soon as we can!