Any savvy business owner knows that reputation management is essential to growing. The role reviews play in reputation management is not one to overlook.
According to the Spiegel Research Center (SRC), 95% of shoppers read reviews online before making a purchase. What’s more, the SRC also found that by displaying reviews, businesses can increase their conversion rates by 270%.
When it comes down to online reputation management, Google is king. If Google determines your site to be high-quality, as per its criteria, your ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) will improve. However, if Google deems your website to be fraudulent or if it has lots of errors—like bad links—that can harm the ranking of your site. The more issues your site has from Google’s standards, the less discoverable you are online.
In other words, Google plays a significant role in strong reputation management. So how do businesses, especially those with multiple locations, leverage Google?
In this guide, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about Google My Business Reviews and how you can get the most from this tool.
Ready to dive in?
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is an essential part of any brick and mortar business’ marketing plan for many reasons. GMB helps customers find your business, learn about your company, and find information like your phone number, website, hours of operation.
Also, Google My Business ensures you show up on Google Maps and that you can engage with customers through Google Reviews.
However, Google My Business only pertains to brick and mortar companies. There are a series of guidelines that outline what types of businesses can use GMB.
Why Does Google My Business Matter?
According to a study from BrightLocal, 5% of Google My Business listing views lead to a website click, direction request, or call. In short, it only makes sense that Google plays a significant role in how people find your business each time they search since it’s the leading search engine.
Showing up in local search engine results means more foot traffic, and subsequently, more business. A study from HubSpot found that 72% of customers that searched for something local visited a store within five miles of them.
To put it simply, Google My Business matters to the growth of your business. If your business doesn’t show up on Google, it won’t get seen by potential customers.
A complete GMB page helps Google understand what your business is so that when it goes to crawl your site, it gets as much relevant information as possible. The more Google knows about you, the better your SERP ranking, which we’ll talk more about later on.
The Impact of Google My Business
Google Reviews is much more than a way for customers to voice their experiences and opinions about your business. It’s a tool for companies to set themselves apart from their competitors on an organic playing field while providing customers with the information they need.
But before we dive into how businesses can leverage Google My Business, there are a few essential things to cover first.
The Power of Google’s Local 3-Pack
Though it’s every marketer’s goal to rank on the front page of Google’s SERP, what sets brick and mortar businesses apart is if they are included in Google’s Local 3-Pack.
Google’s Local 3-Pack, or the top three results a user sees when they search for something on Google, is prime reputation real estate.
The top three results are the businesses Google determines to be the most relevant to the search query based on the user’s location and other factors.
The reason why being in Google’s Local 3-Pack is such a highly sought after accomplishment is simple: it’s helping customers find you, which can lead to more foot traffic, an increase in conversions, and more. If you’re lower on the search query list, you’re competing with other businesses for customers’ attention.
Does Zero-Click Searching Mean Zero Opportunity?
The zero-click searching phenomenon has many marketers worried that, despite their best efforts, potential customers won’t click to their site.
Zero-click searching is a response to the formatting of Google’s SERP, which shows snippets of information (most likely the answers to popular search queries), eliminating the need to click on the results. This type of searching has cropped up as a response to voice and mobile searches that are typically short and quick.
There are a few types of zero-click searches:
- Location-based searches: searches that involve directions and other local search queries.
- Database searches: searches around dates, times, conversions, etc.
- Dictionary-type searches: searches that typically start with “what is” or “what does.”
However, despite the threat of zero-click searches, if you optimize your site for featured snippets and continue to update your GMB profile when needed, you’ll provide potential customers with the information they need to act.
Adam Dorfman of Reputation.com had this to say about how customers use Google and zero-searching:
“Even if [customers] are looking for a specific business, they’re not going to your website first. They’re actually typing in your business name on Google. What that means […] is that your website is no longer your front door. Google has become so good at taking information from multiple places [and] creating what they call […] entities, which are clusters of information from different sources about a specific object—or in this case a business—and being able to deliver not just a series of links to find more information, but answers. [Google] is able to deliver [the] knowledge that people are needing right then and there right within [the] search results.”
So how can brands get the most from Google My Business Reviews? Let’s take a closer look.
How Can I Make the Most of Google Reviews?
There are several ways to leverage Google Reviews. No matter what tactics you use, it’s important to remember that being transparent with your customers and providing them with the information they need goes a long way.
Show Your Customers You Care About Their Experience
We know that people turn to Google more than any other search engine. Google Reviews for your business might be one of the first things potential customers see when they search. Therefore, excellent reputation management starts with responding to reviews.
No customer experience is going to be perfect, especially if you’re working with several locations. But if a customer does have a negative experience with your brand, there’s no better way to communicate that you care than by responding to their review and offering to make things right. This is also a great way to build trust among your customers and show them you have their back if something isn’t up to par.
The same can be said for positive reviews. Responding to reviews shows customers you see them, hear them, and care about them.
But it’s not enough to respond to reviews whenever you remember. You must do so promptly. Hiring a review management team to handle this not only means that nothing will fall through the cracks but that you’ll maintain a consistent online reputation.
Improve Your SEO Ranking
Aside from maintaining your reputation, managing your Google Reviews is an excellent way to boost your SEO.
How? If your profile is complete, meaning you’ve verified your location, update your hours of business when needed, add photos, etc., it will help Google determine what your business is as well as the associated search queries.
Local SEO rankings are important, especially for businesses with multiple locations. You must show up high on the SERP for customers to find your business, let alone consider it.
Also, it is not enough to have a stockpile of reviews. Brands must always be seeking new Google Reviews from customers. Consider relevancy in this case. Most customers deem reviews older than a month to be irrelevant. In fact, 84% of consumers agree that reviews older than three months are obsolete. As a result, it’s important to encourage new customers to leave a review.
Build Trust With Your Customers
Brands that are transparent and upfront with their customers are leading the charge when it comes to positive online reputation management. There is so much information at customers’ fingertips these days, so making honesty a priority for your business is a smart move.
You can display that transparency by engaging with your customers through Google Reviews. Plus, customers are more likely to trust the reviews of customers like them over a promise from a brand.
Gain Valuable Insight Into Your Customers’ Minds
There’s a lot of insight to be gained from your Google Reviews. Think of these reviews as short surveys, or a direct line to the mind of your customers.
Detailed reviews will often tell you a lot about what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. As we mentioned above, encouraging every new customer to leave a review helps you stay tuned on what your brand is excelling at, as well as what needs to be improved.
The insight you receive from customer reviews could be information you otherwise would not have access to (and information that can help grow your business), so it pays to pay attention to what your customers have to say.
Take this customer interaction with Domino’s, for example. A few customers expressed they had recently received cold, burnt pizza after placing an order. From this information alone, Domino’s team members can see that there’s an issue during the cooking and delivery phases in those customer areas.
Both customers were allowed to share their experiences in more detail with the Domino’s customer service team. Once the customer issue was resolved, Domino’s can use this information to contact those store locations and get to the bottom of the problem. Without that customer feedback, the Domino’s team might not have become aware of a potential problem.
Put in the Effort, Reap the Reward
Google Reviews are a crucial part of growing a brick and mortar business because they allow you to boost awareness, increase customer trust, and build a transparent brand.
Google is the most widely-used search engine, and there are countless opportunities for any brand to succeed.
Ready to take your reputation management to the next level? Our team can help. Contact us today to schedule a demo or to learn more about our services.