More than ever before, Google reviews are vital to local businesses, even super-small, one-person shops, freelancers, contractors, solopreneurs, and more. This should come as no surprise, particularly considering how smartphones have become the go-to personal guide to local shopping. A Google study revealed just how important search has become for local businesses:
- 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information
- 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within 1 day
- 18% of local searches on a smartphone lead to a purchase within 1 day
- 56% of on the go searches have local intent
Every day, potential customers use Google with the express intent to spend money with a local business. And every day, the vast majority of those customers look to Google reviews to tell them what they want to know about your business.
There’s little question that getting reviews matters for local businesses. According to one study, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by reviews, and 94% will use a business with a rating of at least 4 stars.
But according to that same study, 85% of consumers say that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant, and 70% say a review must have been left within 1 month to impact their decision.
In other words, you should never be done getting Google reviews for your business.
How to get Google reviews
As a business owner, it’s important for you to approach getting Google reviews as an ongoing process. We’ll share some tips that have helped many businesses get more Google reviews, but there’s no easy shortcut or secret trick to increasing your number of reviews or overall rating. Think of it like building and maintaining a good reputation back in the days before the internet. Word of mouth may have moved online, but the fundamentals haven’t really changed.
1) Claim your Google My Business listings
Claiming your Google my Business listing is crucial in managing your local business online. If you haven’t claimed your listing, you should do it right away. This allows you to manage your business’s information in Google Search and Google Maps, and enables you to respond to reviews. Plus, research shows that businesses that claim their listings on multiple online business reviews sites make 58% more money! Learn how to claim your Google my Business listing.
2) Ask your customers to review your business
It might sound obvious or overly simple, but the most effective way to get more reviews for your business is to ask for them. 7 in 10 customers will leave a review if asked. Here are some of the most effective ways to ask customers to review your business:
Put up “Rate us on Google” signage
Putting up small signs or stickers that simply say, “Rate us on Google” is an effective way to passively encourage reviews from customers who might not otherwise think to do so.
Ask customers while they’re in your place of business
This is particularly effective in businesses where you have a lot of personal interaction with a customer. Make sure to avoid being overly aggressive or pushy, and never ask for a specific star rating. Be casual, welcoming, and simple. “Thanks so much for your business today. If you get a chance, I’d love it if you’d review us on Google.”
3) Create a direct link for customers to write Google reviews of your business
Google has made it easy to make a link that will take your customers straight to reviewing your business with one click. This is especially helpful if you collect customer email addresses or maintain an active social media presence. That way your happy customers can review your business on Google with one simple click.
Learn how to create a link for customers to write Google reviews.
Reply to all your Google reviews to build trust
Responding to reviews is a great way to engage with your customers and show curious customers that you are a business who cares. In fact, studies have shown that businesses who responded to reviews saw an increase both in total number of reviews and average rating.
Read our guide on how to respond to reviews.
Can I buy Google reviews?
Absolutely not. There are companies who make promises and offers to sell positive reviews and quickly grow your rating, but you should avoid them like the plague. These practices aren’t only dangerous and unethical, but also violate Google’s review policies.
Other review solicitation practices you should avoid include:
- Offering discounts or gifts in exchange for positive reviews
- Asking customers to leave a 5-star review
- Threatening unhappy customers who might leave a bad review
Put simply, Google wants to make sure all your reviews are genuine, open, and honest. Asking happy customers to leave an honest review of their experience is not only an acceptable practice, but an encouraged one. Trying to coerce a customer to leaving a positive review is not.
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