Even if you’re a thriving business with heaps of happy and loyal customers, getting them to leave a review on Google is often challenging.
The thing is, reviews on Google are super important from both an SEO point of view but also from a general marketing stand-point. If you are looking for a service provider on Google and you see a business listing with tonnes of positive reviews, it makes sense to go with those guys, right (even if they’re not first on the list)?
Plus, those stars on the listing immediately pull attention towards your listing. You need at least 5 reviews to get stars on your Google My Business listing.
Antenna Direct Perth has a listing in the map pick which is only 3rd but will undoubtedly get more clicks because of those stars appearing next to it.
Now, there are services where you can pay to get reviews on your listing which I would highly recommend staying away from. Google is getting extremely clever at pinpointing attempts of manipulation so protect yourself in the long-term and keep clear, especially if these reviews end up coming from accounts from parts of the World that you don’t even operate in (India comes to mind).
Paid reviews may temporarily fool Google, but they often don’t fool human beings who are looking at your reviews with the intention of hiring you/buying off you.
If you don’t already have a Google My Business listing, it’s free and you can sign up for your page/listing by clicking here.
You’re probably wondering how to send people to review you on your Google My Business page.
Guiding people can often be confusing, but it can be done with a simple one-click link.
So, here’s how you generate a link that sends customers straight to your Google My Business page with the review box popped up and ready to go!
Let’s use Doyle Digital as an example and search Google for “doyle digital” – I end up with a URL like this:
See the area that I’ve underlined that starts with a &aqs=? Get rid of all of that stuff, it’s browser specific (my browser was Google Chrome in this scenario) and it will break the link for those who are using other browsers like Safari (which iPhones use by default).
Now that we’ve got a clean URL that will work on any browser like (mine now looks like google.com.au/search?q=doyle+digital&oq=doyle+digital), hit enter in your URL bar.
Now, click on “Write a Review” and look back at your URL bar. You’ll notice some an additional script has been added at the end, that is a command to make the review box pop up automatically so copy it.
Mine now looks like this: google.com.au/search?q=doyle+digital#lrd=0x2a32ab7faf3f80bb:0x1adc60ce24a20796,3,
Great! You’ve got a clean reviews URL!
So how do you get people to actually act and leave you a review on Google?
Well, here are 5 immediately actionable approaches to get things kick started.
Don’t be ashamed to ask your friends and family to show your business some love. This is often the quickest way to boost you up to that minimum 5 reviews to obtain stars on your Google My Business listing.
Having a basic level of reviews is great for our next stages of review hunting as people often feel more comfortable adding to your reviews rather than giving you your only one.
Every interaction with your customers is an opportunity.
A nice and subtle way to implement this is show here in Lousie’s e-mail signature from GoGo Media.
Having a link in your e-mail signature is a nice, continual and non-pushy way to remind people that their review will really help your business out.
I got this one from Hursh at Tradesign.
And it works stupidly well for trade services.
After every job, send a text message to the customer with a link to review you on Google (since they likely called you from their mobile, you should already have the number).
Make sure that you do this fairly quickly whilst the service is still fresh in the mind. The fact that you’ve texted so soon after is a nice touch and feels like a follow up.
Being in a text message rather than an e-mail feels more personal too and often gets a high response rate.
Problem: The URL we made before is ridiculously long to be putting into a text message.
Solution: Go over to the Google URL shorter and paste that clean reviews URL in there and hit enter to get a nice and compact URL that won’t look horrendous in a text message.
If you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in place, you can run who you’ve done business over the last 30 days at the end of each month.
Utilise an e-mail marketing tool like MailChimp to create a basic template.
A tool like MailChimp will allow you to import your e-mail contacts’ details and create custom name fields
Ensuring all of your contacts are addressed by name is great for personalisation and to avoid spam filters.
You get some cool reports too with information on how many people opened your e-mails, clicked through to a link inside the e-mail and who unsubscribed.
Whilst you will get some traction with these, the response rate is typically quite low. I’ve sent some monthly e-mails out for clients which resulted in no additional Google reviews at all.
That is, however, until I started to offer incentives…
Now, this method could be viewed as paying for reviews (which is a no-no), but hear me out.
Incentivising reviews is no different from a giveaway on Facebook by liking or sharing a post or a cafe giving you free WiFi after checking in. So long as your not instructing your customers to leave you 5-star reviews in order to receive the incentive and that they are actually genuine customers that you have provided a service for, this method is as white-hat as you can get.
An example of incentivising Google My Business reviews is offering something everybody can use, such as a Coles Myer voucher or a Dan Murphy’s voucher. You could even offer a discount on a next purchase if your services are regularly repurchased.
Either way, make sure it’s something that your customers will act on in order to obtain.
Here is a very basic e-mail that I sent out on behalf of Able Removals with a $15 Dan Murphy voucher on offer.
This was made by populating a basic MailChimp template, which you can use for free.
As you can see, it’s nothing flash – but it got the job done.
This was only sent out to 20 customers to start off with and we got a response rate of 5 people. That’s a 25% success rate!
(We may even get a couple more from that mailout by people who are taking their time, too!)
Looks good, right? 😀
And you can track everything in a spreadsheet to make sure you’re keeping track of who has reviewed and who you have sent vouchers out to.
If you have a large e-mail list (500+) that you want to send out a review request to, it may actually be cheaper overall to offer a big ticket item where people can enter the draw by leaving a review on Google.
Again, make the giveaway something that people will actually want. For example, giving away an Apple Watch is a great example.
I understand that sounds like an expensive way to get reviews but if you only have to pay $400 once and end up with 30 reviews, you’re $15 better off than if you used the previously mentioned $15 voucher incentive.
I must stress again that this is a tactic that would only be appropriate for a business with a large e-mail list and who would realistically achieve around 40 to 50 reviews from this exercise.
Even if you’re careful about who you send review requests to, it is inevitable that you’re going to get the odd ‘okay’ or ‘bad’ review on your profile.
And that makes you look all the more genuine.
Wouldn’t you have doubts about a business that has all 5-star reviews, not one somewhat satisfied or disgruntled customer?
Even the best service providers get a bad review from time to time. It’s unavoidable and consumers aren’t oblivious to that.
Besides, more often than not, people who leave bad reviews in unreasonable circumstances don’t leave the most compelling (or literate) arguments as to why they were dissatisfied.
When you do get negative reviews, it’s always a good idea to respond in a way that defends yourself without attacking the reviewer, like Lavish Limousines have done below.
Then, you have competitors trying to sabotage your reviews as well which is what likely happened below with WA Legal, who politely managed to discredit the review.
You have to remember, in these scenarios, whilst you know bad reviews are fake the general public do not.
So make sure that your response doesn’t make you look even worse by being overly defensive or accusing the reviewer.
Always remain calm, stick to the facts and maintain a professional image.
You also need to remember that some disgruntled customers will go out of their way to leave a bad review if they think they’ve had a bad experience with your company, whether it’s your fault or not.
Those people who are going out of their way to seek revenge aren’t waiting for your review link.
So arm yourself with as many positive reviews early on so that when you do get a 1-star review, it will appear inconsistent with the overwhelming of positive reviews.
Otherwise, you risk being that business on the map pack with just a couple of 1-star reviews and nothing positive to offset it.
Nice try, but no.
When you declare a business permanently closed or try to delete the listing, the data of that business is still stored by Google.
So, if you were to then re-open that business to start from scratch; you’ll be disappointed to see that those reviews you were trying to clear will either immediately or eventually return.
Again, the best way to combat bad reviews is to respond professionally to the dispute and to drown them out with positive reviews.
Ideally, you would have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool where all of your clients’ personal information is stored securely on.
If not, you can pull your address book from the e-mail account that you communicate with your customers on.
This list will likely contain personal contacts, suppliers and other non-customers’ e-mail so you will want to inspect your list and manually remove those who are not appropriate targets for this communication.
Below are some instructions on how to pull e-mail lists from various e-mail clients:
Any tactics which request, prompt or incentivise people to leave Google reviews are against Google’s guidelines.
However, most of what any SEO does is technically “against Google’s guidelines”.
In theory, we’re all just meant to create content on our websites, blog about our industry and then sit back, praying that the links will just occur naturally when we all know that isn’t the case.
In other words; don’t stress about it.
So long as these reviews are from genuine customers and that they haven’t been told what to write or how many stars to give, it’s as natural as you can be whilst ensuring that you’re making your business look appealing online and keeping up with the competition.
I hope that this guide has gotten you excited to go out there and get more reviews on your Google My Business listing.
Let me know in the comments section below if these methods have worked for you or if you have other tactics of your own that you’d like to contribute to this post (and even get yourself some credit for it with a link back to your website).