Reviews for local businesses are like direct referrals that everyone searching for your services in Google will see. People look at online reviews and the social proof that goes along with them to make their buying decisions. The only real way to immediately build trust with people searching for you in google is have other people speak to your credit. This is exactly why I will now point to some survey research done by BrightLocal that showed that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends. Even if your business is showing up in Google, quality business will really come from the people that do their due diligence before contacting you and see the positive reviews written in the past.
As Google gets smarter and learns from peoples use of the platform, reviews will only become more and more powerful. As of late 2018 Google announced that reviews would actually now hold more weight in ranking your business in google maps as well. So not only will positive reviews compel Google searchers into contacting you, more positive reviews will actually help you rank higher for the keywords that bring you customers! This article will do a couple of things to help you understand and implement the best strategies for reviews in your local business. Let’s Dig in.
Google Reviews Break Down Trust Barriers
No matter the local business or the niche, trust is absolutely the most important baseline to establish during the sales process. It’s what turns cold leads into warm leads and it’s why many business owners are able to grow their businesses to millions of dollars of revenue a year on referrals alone. The trouble is, nowadays, rather than asking a friend who their favorite home service provider is, the majority of people would rather just search the service in Google and go with the most reputable, trusted company that first shows up to them. This is just the way the world is trending, even when a friend recommends a service provider, there is still an urge to google the company and see what kind of reputation they have from peers in the area.
Online Reviews Improve Local SEO
While trust is incredibly important, it means nothing when someone searches for your services and you don't even show up. In late 2018 with the recent Google algorithm updates and improvements in Google My Business, reviews on your google map listing just became one of the most important ranking factors in google maps. A steady stream of relevant reviews and overall volume of online reviews on Google and other trusted platforms now has a very significant impact on showing up higher when prospects search for your services.
While there are hundreds of factors that effect your online presence and overall SEO, reviews are a great way for you as the business owner to take action. If you are looking for something more in depth and want to learn more about how to have your business show up in Google Maps when people search your services, check out a course that we put together for local businesses to fully optimize their Google Map Listing and make sure it performs to it's fullest potential. The course is designed for contractors, and home service professionals who want to stop paying for pay per lead services like HomeAdvisor and Thumbtack and start generating their own leads exclusively to their business.
Google Reviews Provide a Layer of Protection
When anyone searches your business name in Google, the first thing that is going to show up is a knowledge panel with information from Google My Business. If you are in an industry where trust goes a long way then it is absolutely essential that when someone searches your business name, the resulting knowledge panel from google shows your business in a positive light. Using our own company as an example, here is what a sample knowledge panel might look like when someone searches your business name:
We work with a lot of contractors to market them effectively online and this is often a deal breaker. In the contractor industry in general, there are a lot of shady players. This means that the companies that we work with must have an excellent history of success with their customers and they MUST be able to generate some great online reviews from their existing customer base.
The first thing any business owner can do to improve their business is request these written reviews. Not only do they improve trust, but they also help provide a buffer from disgruntled competitors, one-off unhappy leads or random smear campaigns. While reviews can be removed, receiving any support from Google here is very difficult and I have yet to see many bad reviews taken down even if the person never opted into your business or it is a clear smear play from a competitor. For this reason, building more positive reviews from happy clients will provide an effective buffer just in case a bad review does come along.
Easy Ways To Get More Google Reviews
Now that I've shown several benefits to getting some online reviews for your business, the next best thing I can do is show you exactly how to allow customers to easily leave a review directly on your google maps profile
- Create a custom review link that takes customers directly to a review page for Google maps. Google put together a very easy to follow guide which can be found here.
- Create a /testimonials page on your website and embed your google reviews directly on the page. You can even create a button using the link from step one to add to the bottom of the page so that people can easily click and review your business.
- Create an email autoresponder that reaches out to clients after a service is completed. Not only does this create a great opportunity to learn feedback from clients, it also provide a completely streamlined way to keep generating online reviews for your business. With this method, however, you better be sure that every single customer is happy with your service!
Thanks for stopping in and learning more about what you can do to increase your visibility online and generate leads for your business for free through Google. For more useful content, please check out the rest of our blog. If you are interested in working with a local SEO agency who will have your back and best interest in mind, let us take a look at your business and see how we can work together.