How Google Reviews Help Your Business

Google Reviews Are Really, Really Important

What You Should Know About Google Reviews

A lot of the time, potential customers’ first impressions of your company come on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). A well-optimised, cleverly designed, engaging website means absolutely nothing if customers aren’t clicking through from the Google SERP. 

There are a few early stumbling blocks that businesses hit at this stage, but none are more important – and easy to fix – than improving your Google Reviews.

When customers search for a local service – often using a generic ‘[businesses] near me’ or ‘[businesses] in [your location]’ search – the first thing they’ll see will often be the Maps pack, a sort of one-stop hub of information about local businesses alongside a map of where they are. 

The top three businesses are listed within the main search page, with the option to click through to see more local listings. Importantly, each listing includes a summary of their reviews with an average rating out of five and how many reviews they’ve got. 

So, with Google Reviews front and centre in the customers’ eyes, it’s vital that you’re converting your great service into great reviews online.

Five Ways Online Reviews Can Help

Beyond the obvious ways that they can help, Google uses reviews in some ways that local businesses might not know about, and as a result, you might be ignoring how important they can be.

We understand that digital marketing can seem like a black box – and sometimes Google’s drip-feeding of information can accentuate that feeling! – so here at Known Locally, we want to help demystify some of the trade secrets to get your business thriving online.

To that end, we’ve written a handy guide to five of the ways that Google Reviews can help you grow your business and improve your online profile.

The Ways People Are Using Google Are Changing

As mentioned earlier, search strings like ‘[businesses] near me’ are fast becoming one of the most common types. The Google Maps pack (the box that comes up when you use a search term like that) is not only one of the most useful for customers but also one of the most crucial for businesses.

This has coincided with the biggest change in the whole search landscape over the last decade – the move to the majority of searches being carried out on mobile devices, particularly service-based search queries.

Everything a potential customer needs is right there in the Maps listings, from a business’ location to opening times to a phone number and a link to their website. 

This has led to a change in the way that customers interact with Google search results – instead of clicking through to a company’s website, more and more customers are calling directly from Google’s search page. Reviews are one of the most important pieces of information a customer might see that convinces them to call your business ahead of a competitor.

Reviews – both good and bad (we’ll talk about this later) – give you the chance to pip your competitors to the post before they have a chance, and it’s absolutely vital that your business has as many as possible to capitalise on the new ways that your customers are using Google.

They Give Great Opportunities for Customer Interaction and Feedback

One thing that some businesses get wrong when they think about Google Reviews is treating them as separate from any other type of feedback. An online review is simply a digital version of a customer offering face-to-face feedback – both negative and positive – and should be treated as such.

Remember, while the customer might not always be right technically, it’s important that they feel that their concerns are being listened to and you’re acting on their feedback. A customer that’s listened to is a happy customer, and a happy customer is a returning customer.

Google Reviews give you an opportunity to demonstrate to your customers’ peers that you offer a great product or service (more on that in the next section), but also allow your clients to feel heard when they have some concerns.

If changes you make on the back of reviews helps you to satisfy your clients more effectively, you’ll be better placed to move forward with both new and returning customers.

An important part of online reviews is the ‘reply’ function, which demonstrates immediately that you’ve heard the feedback and acknowledged it.

While it might not seem like a huge deal, this can be the difference between a one-star review putting others off your business and potential customers seeing that you’ve listened, grown, and then them choosing to engage with you.

Make sure that you’re replying to all online reviews – both the good and the bad – to engage with your clients’ feedback, and open a new channel of interaction with your base.

Reviews Increase Customer Trust

Google Reviews work in a similar way to in-person, word-of-mouth referrals, helping your potential customers decide between you and your competitors. In fact, statistics show us that 78% of all potential customers trust online reviews as much as a referral from a friend, and for the 18–34-year-old age bracket, that figure is 91%!

Online reviews are becoming increasingly important for local businesses when younger people are almost as likely to trust Google as their best mates for where to get a haircut, or cleaner, or plumber.

When the first thing that a customer sees about your business is your reviews online, making sure that you have a good average from lots of different sources is crucial to securing your next buyer.

Good reviews on your Google page help your customers gain trust that you do what you do really well – if you’ve managed to give other people a fantastic service or product (good enough to leave a glowing review) then they’re much more likely to believe they’ll have a good experience too.

This might seem obvious, but it’s something that too many businesses overlook. When you’re being compared with the competition in the Google Maps pack, a heap of good reviews up against one or two good reviews (or even bad reviews) makes the choice easy.

Good Reviews Can Boost Your Organic Ranking

The way that Google decides which search results should be higher and which should be lower can seem mysterious at points, with changes to its algorithm boosting results for weeks before dropping them later.

One thing that’s clear, however, is that reviews matter. Recent research suggests that up to 10% of the entire algorithm might be based upon review signals, showing that Google treats referrals the same way that customers do – with a lot of respect and trust.

Google uses the number of reviews, how quickly they come in, and how diverse they are as signals to check that your business is doing well in the real world and uses that information to enhance its search algorithm.

Remember, Google’s main aim is to match the best results to every query, and for businesses that operate in person, reviews are a great way for Google to see which companies to put in front of customers.

One of the most important changes to how Google organises its organic ranking system has been the drive to match online and in-person experiences.

We’ve seen changes to certain packs on the Google SERP, such as the ‘Usually Busy Now’ section which can help customers decide when to visit, or the more topical pack advising on health and safety measures required at certain businesses.

This change, to marry what happens in real life and what Google shows customers, is also making reviews more important than ever – if you want Google to think you’re the best choice to show customers, show Google that you’re popular through your reviews!

Great Reviews Drive Higher Conversions

Even if potential customers never read reviews of your business, if you’ve built a strong portfolio of good reviews from lots of different people, you’ll find yourself near the top of a Google Maps pack.

Combine this with the other factors mentioned in this article, specifically the increased trust that customers give review ratings and the growing tendency to call businesses directly from the SERP, and reviews suddenly become conversion machines.

By showing Google that you’re active and offer a great service that compels customers to leave a review, Google will reward you with a higher organic ranking which you can use to drive conversions.

A well-designed website with all the correct sales funnels and convincing copy might be able to draw the more cautious customer, but for the modern buyer, convenience is king.

A higher number of good reviews serves you two-fold here: by getting to the top of organic search results and Google Maps inserts, making your number the easiest to click on; and by showing customers that they can trust you in an instant without having to dig around to find reviews or ask their friends.

Great online reviews also give you the chance to grow your business exponentially by gaining more customers who will (hopefully) also leave great reviews, driving even more traffic to your website and Google My Business page and continuing the cycle.

As long as you keep delivering the excellent products and services that you always do, the growth possibilities are endless!

Don’t Be Shy to Ask Customers to Leave a Review!

The best way to get on the ladder is to take the first step. Start reminding your customers to leave a short review after they’ve had a great experience; it’s not as big of an imposition as it might seem!

Don’t be afraid of the negative reviews either (although often you won’t have to ask for those to go up) but remember to respond to them and keep your customers feeling listened to.

It’s also important to remember that often, customers don’t trust a company with only 5-star reviews, so a few negative ones littered throughout could even be helpful!

Most importantly, just get the ball rolling and reply to all of your reviews, as customers enjoy the interaction and will be more likely to leave their own review if they think they’ll be acknowledged, so once you start, the system should self-perpetuate.

Get in touch

For more information about local SEO, follow the Known Locally blog. We’re constantly updating our customers and helping to demystify local SEO. We also provide expert services for local businesses who want to get noticed on search engines and grow their businesses, just get in touch using our contact form below, to find out more.

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