It’s important for business owners to not overlook the reviews their business receives online. Whether the reviews are found on Google, Facebook, Yelp!, or another site, they can influence your future business prospects. This article will be focusing on Google reviews specifically. It will cover how to deal with both positive and negative reviews. Since Google reviews not only often serve as a prospective customer’s introduction to your business, but also can have an impact on your search engine optimization (SEO), it is important to know how to handle them.
Why Are Reviews Important?
When someone finds your business online, some of the first things they are likely to see are your reviews. First impressions are important, so you don’t want the first thing your prospective customers see to be a poor rating or negative review. But at the same time, you don’t really want your prospective customers to see a lack of reviews either. Reviews add legitimacy to a business, and so you should strive to have at least a handful of good, public reviews.
Another reason for the importance of reviews is that Google likes businesses that have public reviews. Just as potential customers see reviews as adding credibility, so does Google. But, naturally, Google views reviews slightly differently than a real person would. To Google, review credibility is primarily based on a formula that takes the length of the review and the previous reviews of the reviewer into account. The longer the review, the more credible Google will generally view it as. From Google’s perspective, longer reviews are likely to be more in-depth.
As far as reviewer credibility is concerned, Google will look at how many reviews they’ve left and the distribution of those review ratings. Someone who has only left one review will not be seen as having the same credibility as someone who has left 30. And if someone only leaves negative or positive reviews, their reviews will be weighted less.
Always Respond to Reviews
The first rule of Google reviews is to always respond to them regardless of whether they’re positive or negative. Preferably, you would also do this in a timely manner. If you have old reviews from months or years ago that you never responded to, there’s not much of a point in going back and responding to those now. But going forward, you should respond to reviews as soon as possible.
Responding to reviews is important for three primary reasons. It shows past and future customers that you care about and appreciate their feedback. It shows them that you are interested in improving your services and take customer relations seriously. And last, but not least, Google likes when business owners respond to reviews, so it’s good for search engine optimization (SEO). Any one of these alone would be a reason to respond to reviews, but the fact that you can get all three benefits from performing a single action is amazing.
When responding to positive reviews, even a simple “thank you” may be sufficient. For these, you just want to show your appreciation to the customer for taking the time to leave a review. Responding to negative reviews, on the other hand, is a bit more involved because you need to know how to properly handle the situation.
When a negative review comes in, you should respond with an apology and offer to correct whatever the issue is. However, you shouldn’t publicly address the issue. Instead, provide a way for the reviewer to follow up with you in private, such as via email or phone. By doing this, people who read the review and your response to it will see that you’ve made an effort to correct the issue at hand. But at the same time, you won’t be having a discussion about the issue in a public forum.
Removing Bad Reviews
When you receive a negative review, one of your first thoughts might be to attempt to have it removed. That’s generally not a good idea. Instead, you should respond to it in the way that was just previously explained. If all goes well, you could even ask for the reviewer to update their review after you have corrected the issue.
With that said, there are definitely times when you would want a review removed from Google. Examples are when you get a negative review from someone who has never been a customer or when a negative review is obviously false in nature. But, even under such circumstances, getting a review removed from Google is an uphill battle and is in no way guaranteed. You should also be wary of companies that claim they can get your bad reviews removed for you. Often, such companies implement sketchy SEO tactics that can end up doing more harm than the initial bad review.
Encourage Good Customers to Leave Reviews
Encouraging good customers to leave reviews for your business is one of the best things you can do, whether or not you’re concerned with your online reputation. Many people tend to only leave reviews when they have a bad experience. To get good reviews, customers who have had a positive experience may require a little push.
The obvious benefit to asking these customers to leave reviews is that they will tend to be good reviews, which will balance out or outweigh any bad reviews. The less obvious benefit is that they simply add to your review count, which looks good both to Google and potential customers. Assuming their average ratings are the same, people are more likely to select a business with 30 reviews over one with 5 reviews.
Google reviews are important for your business because they inform both potential customers and Google itself about how your business operates. Responding to these reviews shows that you care about the feedback you receive from your customers. Even if a review is negative, it’s better to respond to it in a professional manner than to attempt to have it removed. And lastly, don’t forget to encourage your customers who had positive experiences to leave reviews.
While reviews are an important part of your online image, they’re not the only things customers and Google use to judge your business. The importance of having a great website cannot be overstated. At Media Proper, we design, develop, and maintain websites that don’t sacrifice appearance or functionality. If your online presence is in need of an upgrade, reach out to us today.