Google handles 1.2 trillion searches every year. It should come as no surprise that people all over the United States – and the world – look to it when they want to know about local brands and businesses. Cue Google Reviews, the ultra-popular service that allows customers to rate restaurants, stores, and other businesses.
Google Reviews are Crucial to Small Business Success
Over the last few years, reviews from Google users have become highly visible in local search listings. When potential customers look for businesses like yours, your aggregate Google Reviews score and recent reviews are among the first things they see.
That means third-party reviews can be visible even before a prospect visits your website!
Though that might seem alarming, reviews also do plenty of good:
- Reviews help build your business persona and establish your reputation;
- Positive, recent reviews can draw customers away from the competition;
- Good reviews start the new customer relationship with a sense of trust.
Getting the Most of Google Reviews is Easier Than You Think
In the past, businesses have often had trouble getting the reviews they want. Positive reviews can be powerful, but people are much more likely to share a negative experience – even if it is very unusual. Luckily, there are steps you can take to maximize the impact of reviews.
Optimize Your Google Business and Google Places Listings
Would-be customers make a decision on you based on your Business and Places listings. Unfortunately, these listings often get clogged with inaccurate or misleading information. Claim your page on Google Business so you can ensure your address, phone number, and business hours are correct. Also consider adding an eye-catching photo to entice people to visit.
Ask Clients for Reviews
Since people who have bad experiences are most motivated to leave reviews, it’s important to remind everyone else about them. You can place a note about reviews on your business receipts or even your signage – and don’t be afraid to advertise the fact if you’ve got great reviews! Train your employees to engage with customers about sharing their experiences, too.
Respond to Reviews
No matter whether a review is good or bad, you should consider responding to it. When people leave poor reviews, they want their voices heard and the problem corrected. Doing so in a calm and professional manner makes a great impression on future users who browse through reviews. Responding to positive reviews helps reinforce the strong relationship with existing customers.
It may take a while for your business to gather a robust collection of positive reviews, but don’t give up. When comparing similar nearby businesses, people are much more likely to go for the one that has recent, glowing reviews!