Business owners like you know how effective word of mouth can be in attracting and retaining potential customers. In the online world, comments, appreciation or praises from your site visitors work the same way. But aside from revenue, Google reviews for businesses can significantly affect your SEO strategy as well. This domino effect further stresses the need to pay attention to what your customers have to say.
How Google Business Reviews Affect SEO
Google’s goal is to provide the best information, company, product, or service to its users. And so, it’s only natural for the search engine to consider customer reviews as trustworthy and valuable user-generated content. Businesses that gain considerable, consistent positive reviews then get higher search rankings and better visibility as a reward.
If people can easily find your site and see its high-star rating, they are likely to click on it, too. The generated traffic, of course, is a plus for your Local SEO efforts. But more importantly, glowing online reviews can make visitors trust your site more and make them stay longer. Positive comments also help reduce bounce rates and, eventually, encourage users to convert. All of which contribute to good SEO and business profit.
How to Optimise Google Reviews for SEO
Now that we know the role of Google reviews for businesses to your SEO status and overall operations, it’s time to apply effective tactics. Here’s what you can do to use customer feedback to your advantage.
1. Boost Your Review Quantity
If you’re ordering from a new restaurant, which one will you pick: the burger joint with 5 reviews or the pizza parlour with over 100 positive comments? I’d say pizza it is.
Users rely on high-quality and up-to-date content when making a purchasing decision. On the other hand, Google uses it as a local ranking factor. If your site has more customer reviews, Google can easily find and match you to a user’s search intent based on your relevance and popularity. And this is why increasing your review score is essential. But how will you do that?
- Make it effortless for customers to leave a review. The quicker it is to make a review, the more likely for them to do it. You can do this by adding a review request at the end of your thank you page. Sending recent customers an email or newsletter with a review link is a good idea as well.
- Consider asking customers to post positive reviews. Regular and happy customers are likely to have positive experiences with your business. They’ll be more than willing to help your operations and leave honest reviews. You can also do this by emailing or personally asking your frequent in-store customers or guests for comments.
- Provide new reasons for customers to leave a review. Introducing a new service or regularly creating promos will encourage customers to visit your site or make a purchase. When you do this, make sure to wow them with fantastic customer service to help build up your review profile.
2. Respond to All Reviews Received
There are two reasons why replies are crucial in managing Google reviews for businesses. One is your review reply works as a signal of business engagement and credibility for Google. It also shows Google how much you value your customers. Second, replying to reviews help build good customer relations. Keep these things in mind when responding to both positive and negative reviews:
- Apply a polite and professional tone. Also, keep the replies concise to encourage future clients to read them.
- Give personalised replies when possible. It’s also good to address the client by name to show your sincerity in every review reply.
- Investigate the cause of a negative review first. Apologise if needed and offer a way to remedy the issue, like offering a complimentary service, making a refund or speaking to the manager offline. Take bad reviews as your chance to correct mistakes and serve customers better. Check out how to deal with negative reviews on Google My Business here.
3. Insert Relevant Keywords When Possible
High-quality keywords are one of the keys to achieving SEO success. And they are equally essential in Google reviews for businesses. That’s because Google uses these words to determine your relevance to a specific user search. So, when given a chance, optimise your review content with relevant keywords by adding your business name, location or service to your reply.
Here’s an example. If your customer Sally gives you a great review after going to your physiotherapy clinic, you can respond by saying, “Hi Sally, we’re glad that we could help alleviate your back pain. Our SuperbPhysio Melbourne CBD team appreciates your feedback!” Inserting a specific service or a company name with a location will benefit your Local SEO ranking.
4. Consider Creating an Online Review Response Team
While replying to Google reviews is vital, creating personalised replies or addressing multiple comments can be time-consuming. One way to work around this is to have corporate-approved templates. When you do create these, make sure to follow consistent brand guidelines and voice.
Of course, you need to apply a different tactic when handling several reviews that call for in-depth replies. In that case, having a dedicated online review management team is more appropriate. This monitoring group can help your business and customers in many ways, such as:
- address customer messages and reviews promptly
- provide on-brand responses across the board, especially for businesses with multiple locations
- identify negative issues that need immediate action or replies from owners
- help owners focus on other pressing business matters
- highlight tangible ways for business owners to improve their workflow, product or service
5. Observe Google Review Best Practices
Like SEO, building an excellent review profile needs time, consistent efforts and hard work. So, whatever you do, do not resort to quick fixes or unethical shortcuts. After all, getting positive feedback from customers is more rewarding when honestly earned. Make sure to go by these rules when managing Google reviews for businesses:
- Avoid posting a fake review or encouraging staff to make them. It’s no good to outsmart search engines because they are more perceptive. Sooner or later, they’ll catch on to those who try to violate their terms. Going against Google’s guidelines and getting a penalty will only lead to drops in traffic or rankings, Google My Business listing suspension or absolute site removal.
- Do not create fake negative reviews about your competitors. Depending on your business location, posting defamatory reviews may be against the law and subject to sanctions. A legal tangle is the last thing any business owner would want as it will only lead to a waste of valuable resources.
- Try not to offer incentives or rewards in exchange for positive reviews. While this one is debatable, it’s better to gain reviews out of customers own volition. Also, you are likely to get forced reviews from customers who are only after those gift vouchers or freebies you’re offering. Check Google’s guidelines about text reviews and captions to learn more.
They say that the best things in life are free. And this belief applies 100% to your Google reviews. Your customers are undoubtedly your most effective influencers. But more importantly, they provide credible content to your site without costing you anything.
So, make sure to use your product or service reviews well. Let positive feedback keep you going, then use negative comments for growth and improvement. Clients will like you more for having such an ideal business attitude, even Google!
Also, don’t forget to check our previous article about 10 things you may not know about Google My Business to optimise your page beyond reviews.