Word of mouth has always had an influence on what customers buy, and never more so than today. The Internet has given everyone a place to share their opinions about your business, with few sites more important than Google.
The company feeds its five-star system of reviews into everything from text search results to business listings on Places pages and results on its Maps service. This means that your business often appears with an average rating, photos, and snippets of customer comments. If they're not so hot, potential customers will pass on you and take their money to a business with better ratings.
Thankfully there are steps that you can take to give your reviews and ratings a bump in the right direction.
Six Steps to Better Google Reviews
Every good business has its fans, but the key is to spark them into action and get them to share with the world their positive perspectives about what you do. These six steps will provide that spark:
- Use your e-mail marketing list: The best customers to target are those you know are already using Google. Find the Gmail users on your mailing list, and craft a request for reviews just for them.
- Remind customers after the transaction: When you give a customer great service or they praise what you do, remind them that you'd really appreciate them sharing that view online.
- Ask everywhere: Use your social media channels to remind loyal customers that a good Google review is one of the best ways to support your business. Don't ask often or everywhere at the same time, but do cover all the platforms at some point.
- Build your business profile on Google Places: Don't leave it to others to shape your listing. Add attractive photos, complete contact details, opening hours, and your website link.
- Provide a guide: Create a page on your site that explains the benefit of a good Google review and a quick guide to how it's done. Keep that link handy, and send it to customers whenever it feels right.
- Don't offer incentives: Google wants to keep its listings legitimate (and so does the FCC). Focus on getting honest reviews from your most appreciative customers. If you try to get high ratings by directly rewarding customers for writing them, you run the risk of heavy fines and website search penalties.
Track your reviews on a monthly basis, and discuss them with your team to come up with new ideas to get your greatest fans on Google. As that star rating starts to rise, you're sure to see new customers stopping by to see if you have five-star service.