As an SEO Manager that specializes in all things local, one of the most common questions I get from clients both large and small is “How do I generate more Google reviews for my business?”
There is no debating that frequent, genuine online reviews from your customers new and old can contribute to increased visibility and even increased conversions from search traffic.
Here’s the reality: the majority of your potential customers look to family and friends for recommendations on new products or services they are considering.
Heck, they even trust the reviews and feedback of strangers to validate taking an action online — whether that be making a purchase or filling out a form. Online reviews build trust, so what your customers are saying in Google, Yelp, or Facebook does matter.
Last year our pals at Vendasta published an infographic titled 50 Stats You Need to Know About Online Reviews and it does a great job illustrating just how much impact customer reviews have to any business online. Here’s a few of my favorite stats from that infographic:
- 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews, vs. 29% in 2014
- 26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews
- 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
- 23% will visit the business premises directly after reading positive reviews
- 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores
Keeping these stats in mind, did you know that only 23 percent of consumers have actually written and submitted a review online?
Not only are online reviews an important part of the conversion process (turning web visitors into customers) but it’s apparent that once a visitor becomes a customer, they’ll need a gentle nudge or reminder to share their feedback in the form of a review.
This is why review generation (and response management) should be a part of every SMB’s marketing process. Yes, actively soliciting customer reviews may also increase the amount of negative reviews you get, but as per the last statistic point above, having a few negative reviews sprinkled throughout your profile may actually help make your business appear more “real.”
Which Review Websites Have The Most Impact in Search?
The answer to this question will vary depending on the region and location of the person searching, but for the sake of time here is a list of the more popular and first-page-visible review websites in Canada:
Though we’ll only be walking you through generating more reviews within Google My Business / Google Maps, the same techniques can be applied across any of the major third party networks.
Pro tip #1: It’s highly recommended that you set up profiles on the above networks as these pages will almost always show up on the first page search results, as well you’ll get a nice authoritative backlink to your website.
Generating Your Google Review Link
Creating a direct link to your Google My Business review window can be accomplished in a couple of ways. To keep things simple, here are the instructions to create a review link within Google itself:
- Go to the Google Places API.
- Enter your business name in the “Enter a location” field at the top of the map.
- Click your business name in the list that appears.
- Your Place ID will appear on the map, beneath your business name.
Add your Place ID to the following URL after the equals sign to create your link:
Using TechWyse as the example above, the URL with the Place ID added would be:
When you click the link above it will take you to a Google search result page for your business with the review window popped open.
Pro tip #2: Track the usage of your review link and make it more user friendly by utilizing Google’s URL shortening service. This will allow you to see how many people have clicked the link, as well as the countries, browsers, and platforms used.
Pro tip #3: This is a tad advanced, but there is a way you can “hack” the review URL Google gives you to pre-populate with a 5 star rating. Simply add a comma and the number 5 to the end of the full length URL. See example below:
Now that you have your review link generated, let’s break down my 10 favorite ways to solicit new reviews for your business.
The 10 Best Ways to Get Real Google Reviews Starting Today
1. Ask for a review
This is something that should be communicated to all departments within your business, especially client facing roles. You’d be surprised how many businesses don’t think to ask for a review. My dentist has printouts on the walls of his examination rooms, and at the front reception desk.
2. Educate your customers on how to leave a review
Either have a printout available at your front desk or even consider creating a page or blog post on your website with instructions on how to leave a Google review. For many people, the barrier between them leaving a review or not is simply they have no idea how to do it.
3. Personalize the review experience
Getting a personal email from the owner of a business to a recent or long time customer can make all the difference in the world. Though it may take some time to craft up unique emails, the conversion rate should be worth it.
4. Simplify the process
Connecting to point #2, keep the process of leaving a review as simple as possible. Bullet point instructions with hyperlinked text. Even copying and pasting instructions directly from Google My Business can be beneficial, as Google typically keeps their support content short and sweet.
5. Utilize third party tools
If you operate a franchise model business or have several locations across the country, soliciting and managing reviews can become very time consuming. This is where utilizing third party tools like Whitespark or partnering with an SEO agency like TechWyse can help expedite the process.
6. Multiple touch points
Post instructions for leaving a review on Facebook, ask your customers in-store, remind them when they call on the phone. Be sure that no matter what touchpoint they reach you at, they are being kindly asked to provide feedback in the form of a review.
7. Offer an incentive
While it is against review policy to solicit reviews or set up review stations, it can still be achieved. Just keep it tasteful and don’t over do it. Occasionally offering a coupon or discount for a review, good or bad, can help keep the fresh reviews coming in. Especially if you roll it into a contest.
8. Respond to reviews
This should be very self explanatory. When a customer sees that the business owner regularly responds to feedback left on Google, they will be more inclined to want to share their feedback as they know someone will actually be reading it.
9. Email signature
“Have feedback? Leave us a review on Google.” Adding a simple call to action like this in your default email signature can generate a decent amount of reviews on it’s own. Think about how many emails you send each month. Adding a link to your signature can be the easiest way to get a boost in your review count.
Generating new reviews for your business shouldn’t be a painful process. Keep it simple, reminder your customers, and show them how to do it. Incorporating this into your marketing campaigns and communicating the importance of this across your organization is often all that’s needed to go from zero to hero in a short period of time.
Have questions? Leave a comment below.