Harness the power of your Google My Business listing with reviews.
Google My Business reviews are a powerful tool—or at least they can be, for businesses and users alike. Googling a business is the new way to phone a friend. While Google does not share its search volume data, HubSpot reports an estimated 2 trillion global Google searches per year, and that the average person conducts three to four searches daily. (Can that be it for some people? It must be more for the insatiably curious.) It shows that, nowadays, potential clients and customers start with Google.
A free resource, Google My Business helps you establish an introductory profile for Google users to access. Right there, with a simple search, is your business address, as well as service hours, phone number, web address, and brief description of your business. If created effectively, it’s a calling card that shows clients you are a trustworthy and talented business.
It’s also more than a business listing, thanks to the ability for users to add reviews and businesses to respond. Google My Business reviews can encourage—or discourage—potential customers and clients. They can also become a place for businesses to engage with their clients, and for fans to engage by posting photos and feedback.
All at once, Google My Business reviews are:
- Sources for social listening, where a business can learn more about customer experiences and needs
- Places for fans and followers to champion their favorite businesses and share stories and photos
- Resources for potential customers and clients to use when deciding where to shop, eat, or buy
That’s way more than a simple business directory listing! As an interactive and dynamic profile, your Google My Business listing has the power to show off many aspects of your business while engaging your audience. So, how can you harness the power of Google My Business reviews and ensure honest and accurate conversations take place?
Everybody Has an Opinion…
Good and bad, reviews inform decisions. According to marketing platform Bright Local, the average consumer will read 10 reviews before trusting a business. This means that, if your audience loves you but stays silent, potential customers will be facing an information gap. No reviews, old reviews, or few reviews can be a problem.
Google My Business reviews can help your business stand out. But first, they have to be written.
There are a couple ways to help encourage reviews:
- Make it easy for fans to find you and remind them to speak up. You can create a short URL that’s specific to your Google My Business profile and remind customers to leave reviews. Simply ask: “Did you enjoy your experience? We hope you’ll share it with a Google My Business review!”
- Turn it into a conversation. Google My Business reviews can be a form of social listening and audience engagement. If people are speaking up about a positive experience, thank them for it! Listen in to learn what you did right—and what you need to improve. If you encounter a bad review, still thank the person for bringing it to your attention. When people see a business cares, they feel valued.
Offering incentives for reviews, such as a discount on a future purchase, can be tricky because it means the review is not organic. (Yelp specifically states businesses should not solicit reviews while Google My Business has prohibited content policies and discourages incentivizing.) Honest and unbiased reviews are best. By engaging with your audience from a truthful place as a business, you can encourage them.
Think Beyond Reviews, Too
Google My Business helps businesses be more discoverable. As a free resource, it is an easy marketing tool. However, this also leaves it up to the business. You get what you put into it.
If you’re trying to encourage Google My Business reviews, it’s important to also think beyond reviews. Verify your Google My Business profile and make it your own. An active and engaged business profile will help signal to potential reviewers (and readers) that this is a community where their review matters. Photos, information, and reviews help build out a Google My Business profile to make this an effective platform. They also optimize your business to show up well in local search results.
As a business owner, do your part to fill out your profile and stay active. While much can be established when you do an initial setup, like confirming address and contact, there might be some elements that change. Consider setting a calendar alert to make updating your profile part of a routine. Additionally, reviews are not the only place where businesses can inform and chat with their audience. Google My Business profiles also have a section for questions and answers, which can pass on important information.
You can also use Google My Business to provide important updates and information, like changes to hours or policies. (Google has shared information on how businesses can use their profile to navigate changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.)
Engage, Respond, Repeat
Now that your business has engaged with your audience and received reviews, what’s next? The work doesn’t stop here. Reading reviews is an important way to collect and process feedback, both good and bad. When you read reviews, you learn what you are doing well and what you could improve. And when you respond to reviews as a business, you show that you are listening. It’s an important part of the relationship you build with your audience…and can lead to more reviews and further audience engagement.