Surprisingly, Google reviews remain an untapped resource for many SMEs.
Before we delve into why they should matter to your business, let’s consider the following:
- 92% of customers are more likely to make a purchase after reading a positive review online.
- 75% of customers never venture beyond the first page of results produced by a Google search.
- 77% of customers cite good reviews as one of the deciding factors in their purchasing decisions.
Intrigued? Then read on…
What exactly is a Google review?
Google reviews can feature on any Google My Business (GMB) account. They allow people to give your business a star rating and leave a written review.
Once you’ve claimed your GMB account, you can enable Google to search for and pull through “rich snippets” – ratings and reviews from Google and other localised review sites such as Yelp. You’ll then see an average rating score displayed alongside your business name on search results pages; searchers can click through to read reviews in full.
Here are the top 3 reasons Google reviews should matter to every SME:
1. They can work wonders for local SEO
Perhaps the most compelling reason to harness the power of Google reviews.
While Google is famously tight-lipped about its algorithmic secret sauce, clues can be found on its advisory page, ‘Improve your local ranking’:
High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.
Research has further underscored this, pointing to Google reviews featuring keywords as one of the most influential factors shaping the performance of businesses in Google’s local pack: the holy grail of marketing for SMEs.
Appearing in the local pack gives you a significant advantage over competitors, boosting your visibility with a rapidity traditional SEO is often unable to deliver, increasing clickthroughs and, providing your website looks great, converting leads into customers.
2. They generate social proof for your business
Aside from helping you stand out, Google reviews provide social proof that your business is worthy of customers’ trust, time, and money.
Social proof is the term given to the idea that our purchasing decisions can be swayed by positive (unpaid) feedback from others, verifying that a product or service is a good investment. This could take the form of a rave blog post, a customer review, an expert’s ‘Top Ten’ list… you get the idea.
Research suggests that 97% of customers take the time to browse online reviews before spending, while 88% place the same level of trust in said reviews as they would a recommendation from a personal acquaintance. Motivational figures indeed.
Don’t worry about the odd negative review either – they can actually help you to rank for relevant keywords. Additionally, a business with 100% positive reviews feels inauthentic to customers – too good to be true. Do take the time to reply to negative reviews – a timely, courteous response is always reassuring to readers.
3. They let you know what customers want
Online reviews serve up valuable customer intelligence – gold dust when shaping any marketing strategy. They give you access to feedback you might not otherwise receive.
When reading a customer’s Google review, you may find out:
- What service or product they purchased – along with their thoughts on its quality.
- Which aspects of your service stood out, for better or worse.
- Whether their overall experience was positive and, if not, why.
This is all vital first-party information you can leverage to deliver an even better customer experience (and product or service).
Some quick Google review tips…
Populate your GMB Q&A
Your GMB account has a Q&A feature that lists crowdsourced questions both you and members of the public can answer. As with Google reviews themselves, these questions will pop up in search results, should they include keywords.
Google also gives you the chance to pre-fill the Q&A with FAQs.
Consider taking advantage of this feature: it enables you to tactically list questions and answers that include keywords searchers will be using, potentially boosting your SEO rankings.
Direct customers to your GMB profile
Include a review link to your GMB profile in your email marketing, on your website, and anywhere else you deem appropriate. This can be used to drive customers to your GMB profile and encourage reviews – when it comes to SEO and brand trust, the more reviews you get, the better.
As an example, here is our Google review link: