Maybe it’s your first time managing online reviews for a business and you want to know more. Maybe you’re hoping to boost your online reputation so you can appear more trustworthy online. There are a lot of good reasons to understand more about reviews your business gets, and while there are a number of review platforms you could target, none are quite as important as Google reviews. In this piece we’ll dive into the basics of Google reviews so you can use them as a powerful growth tool.
First, it’s important to understand where reviews fit into Google’s ecosystem. As you probably know, people can leave you reviews as soon as you set up or claim your business through Google My Business. As a property of Google, reviews are subject to Google’s content policies and behavior. This means there are two important things to understand:
As we explore in another piece, reviews are essentially free advertising if you take the right approach. For most, the process involves adopting a new philosophy in terms of running your business. Here’s how it works:
This philosophy is simple enough, but how do you implement it?
To get the most from your online reviews, you need a simple strategy to help guide you. Here are the things you’ll want to start doing.
Start Asking for Reviews
One of the quickest ways to build your reputation online is to start asking customers to leave you reviews. While some businesses will ask customer in person, it’s typically an ineffective approach. Instead, it’s best to automate review invites using a tool like Swell Review. Swell Review will text your customers a review invite during a time that’s convenient for them, so they’re more likely to leave you a review.
Read Reviews Regularly
Many businesses won’t get reviews every day, unless they’re using a tool like Swell Review to solicit them. Still, your business should be ready to read and reply to reviews every day if necessary. At a minimum, use Google My Business’s built-in notifications to inform you of each new review, so you can read and reply quickly. This is particularly important for critical reviews. You’ll look unresponsive and untrustworthy if you don’t reply with solutions right away.
Don’t Get Discouraged by Critical Reviews
You’ll get some kind, flattering reviews but you’ll also get critical reviews that sting a bit. And yes, occasionally you might get abusive reviews (we’ll talk about these). Don’t take critical reviews personally. They’re an opportunity to learn how you can improve the customer experience for everyone, which in many ways makes negative reviews a good thing.
Respond to Reviews—Good and Especially Bad
Many brands reply to every review they get. For positive reviews, many businesses use a templated thank-you message to express their gratitude. If time permits, adding a personal touch to these will go a long way to build trust with customers—they’ll feel some warm-and-fuzzies for you when they see a kind, personal response. As for negative reviews, reply quickly, kindly, and courteously as you attempt to address the issue a customer presented. In many cases, you’ll be able to remedy a situation and come out looking better for it. For a detailed look at how to respond to negative reviews, check out this piece.
Flag Truly Abusive Reviews for Removal
Since reviews are so subjective, Google won’t remove reviews in a dispute about facts between a business and a customer. They will, however, remove things that violate their content policy. If you honestly feel a review is abusive or if it violates Google’s content policy, you can flag it. Google may reach out to you discuss the matter and, depending on the circumstances, may remove it from your listing. For a detailed look at removing bad Google reviews, check out this post.
There are a lot of steps involved in gathering, managing, and replying to reviews, but there are tools that make it easy.
Using Swell Review, you can take a lot of the repetitive work out of review management by:
Once in place, a review strategy is one of the most effective ways to market your local business. In no time at all, you’ll start seeing your star rating go up, more traffic on your website, and yes, more new customers walking in your door.
Of course, reviews are just one of the things Swell provides to help local businesses grow. Swell is a complete customer engagement platform and can help you centralize all your customer communications as well as conduct surveys, schedule requested appointments, and even make it easy for customers to pay their bills. For more information on Swell, check out this page.