Why do five-star reviews matter to Google rankings? And how can you increase your Google reviews?
One of the largest contributors to improved ranking for location-based search queries is a five-star review of your business within Google’s search results. Such a review is often the first impression a customer gets of your business, so this feature can make a huge difference to your overall reputation. It can also be the determining factor over whether a customer favours you or a competitor.
In this blog, we’ll cover what Google rankings are, how to manage them, how to increase the volume of Google reviews for your site and why Google reviews are a critical aspect of your Local SEO campaign.
What are Google reviews and why are they important?
Google reviews is a feature that allows customers to rate and comment on the service and product of a particular business. Stars are given out of five and these reviews are clearly visible when your business is researched, or when customers perform a general search for businesses such as yours in your local area.
You will likely have seen Google reviews many times before when searching for your own services, whether it be “emergency plumber” or “chartered accountancy firm”. When you do, they’ll look one of two ways:
Each version aims to encourage viewers to click on results based on the quality of reviews and the number of high ratings it has featured.
Google uses the average review rating, quality of reviews and the number of users clicking on one of the businesses listed to determine if it should rank the business higher in future.
By actively improving the quantity of reviews submitted to your business and the average star rating out of five, your business will ultimately benefit from a Google ranking boost that will result in more clicks, more leads and, eventually, more revenue. In fact, one study showed that 90% of its participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced their decision to buy from a particular business.
In addition to improved ranking and traffic, one of the greatest advantages of tailoring your SEO campaign to focus on improving Google reviews is that you’ll be one step ahead of your competition. In our experience as a digital marketing agency, most of our clients’ competitors are not utilising their reviews properly. This means they are missing out on ranking benefits.
Below, we’ll give you our SEO knowledge so you can begin to build up your rankings, using a simple and short process.
How to manage the reviews on Google
The tool for managing how your business appears in Google’s search results pages is called Google My Business. If you haven’t already claimed your business using the free service, we strongly advise you do so immediately.
Google My Business, or GMB, allows you to alter the details of the business listing (such as the address, website, opening hours, contact details, etc.). More importantly, though, GMB allows users to manage the reviews your business earns. It also enables you to reply to them.
By reviewing and replying to all submitted reviews, you’ll be able to create a strong, trustworthy customer service impression before the potential customer has even seen your website. Google My Business is free and incredibly intuitive, but if you require any further assistance, our dedicated SEO team are happy to help and advise.
Once you are able to manage how your business appears, the next step is to increase your total number of reviews.
How to increase your Google reviews
Most customers don’t leave reviews because they simply don’t know that they can. As a result, building up your Google reviews can be a long and frustrating process. However, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re all guilty of this behaviour. Consider for a second: do you remember the last time you left a review for a company?
It’s important for you to know that directly asking your customers to review your business after you’ve delivered the product or service they’ve paid for is perfectly acceptable. It doesn’t breach Google’s Terms of Service, therefore it’s not going against the system. It’s merely using the tools at hand to help make your business a success. If your service is fresh in someone’s mind just after they’ve become a customer, what better (or fairer) time is there to ask for a review?
The best way to increase your reviews is to ask for them. According to a Local Consumer Review Survey, 70% of customers will leave a review for a business when they are asked to do so.
In our experience, sending out a post-purchase delivery email is the best approach for increasing the review total for two reasons:
- Anyone reading their email is already online, meaning they’re only a click away from leaving a review.
- Customers asked in the happy honeymoon period directly after product/service delivery are more likely to leave a glowing review.
When asking for a review, remember that everyone’s time is precious. The email needs to be short and to-the-point so that the customer can action it and quickly get back to what they were doing.
Who should send the Google review request email?
If you’re already managing your own company’s email marketing, you’ll be required to bring this new email into your regular email process. Start by writing a template that you can copy and send to each new customer.
If you have someone else in your company, or contracted externally, to handle your email marketing, then pass this document through to them. Ensure the process is put into immediate action within 48 hours.
Not currently employing someone to handle your email marketing? Finding the increasing level of work for email marketing to be filling up your already packed agenda? You can hire experienced email marketing professionals to take charge of your email marketing with a strategy and process of your choosing.
In the next section, we’ll share what needs to be included in the email you send, plus a template email for you to use as inspiration for your own email.
What information needs to be included in the Google review request email?
Within the email, you’ll need to include the following:
- A link to the webpage where the Google review can be left
- Instructions on how to fill out a Google review
- A helpful screenshot showing how to leave the review
The link to the webpage
The regular URL that takes you to where your business is on Google is ugly, as you can see below:
We can shorten that and make it look tidier and much more clickable:
To get the short link, we have used the following free tool:
This link will then need to be included in the next section of the email.
Instructions on how to leave a Google review
As previously mentioned, the instructions for the customer to follow should be short, preferably written as a step-by-step, bullet point process.
The following is a template process you can copy and use directly in your own email template.
Please make sure to include your link where directed:
After writing the actionable list above, it is also worth leaving a note beneath it that offers to help in the event that the customer becomes confused or lost at any point, such as the following.
A screenshot indicating where to write the Google review
A small screenshot to indicate where the “Write a review” button is may help some users to find it. By placing a small, compressed screenshot into the space after the instructions, the customer should be able to make immediate use of the visual directions.
In our example screenshot, we have used text decoration to draw attention to the button:
An example email template to ask for a Google review
The final touches for the email will come down to how you want your company’s tone of voice to be used. The loose, friendly style for one company may not match the professional business language of another. Ensure your email includes:
- The right tone of voice
- A suitable introduction
- The review instructions
- A suitable closing message
Below, you’ll find our example template which you can follow for the creation of your own email:
The importance of replying to your Google reviews
Google My Business allows you to reply to reviews for your business. It’s important to reply to all reviews, both positive and negative. This aids the impression a potential customer may build about your business before reviewing your services.
Replying to both positive and negative reviews will help you to show how much you care about customer satisfaction, while also showing that you care about negative or bad experiences and are on hand to address them and put them right.
In addition to replying to reviews, you can make a note of the reviewer’s name and follow up with an email to thank them for taking the time to leave the review.
Get notified about each new Google review
The Google My Business platform has an in-built notification system that can email you each time a new review is posted by a customer. You can find all details on how to use that here.
Every Google review is priceless
Whilst the conversion rate of customers emailed to those who actually leave a review may not be 100%, every review is priceless and could make the difference between ranking 3rd or 1st.
The added trust value from a high-scoring review average will also lead more people to click on your website, meaning more Organic Traffic.
Adding this email to your email marketing campaign is something we recommend you complete this week. Don’t wait for your competitors to get the upper hand!