If you are selling to individuals or businesses in your area, then you’ve possibly heard about the benefits of creating a Google My Business (GMB) page. It’s a free service from Google that can get you on Google Maps, draw attention to business offers, and showcase customer reviews.
Many businesses have already claimed their GMB page, but haven’t used it to its full potential. That’s a mistake! GMB is a fantastic resource for generating relevant exposure for your business. And more importantly, making sure prospective buyers know about the quality of your work!
In this article, we’ll look at six ways that getting customer reviews on GMB will help you grow your business.
Google can send a LOT of local business your way. But for them to put you at the top of the search rankings, they need to feel comfortable with your business. They don’t want to be perceived as recommending a business that doesn’t deliver quality results. Even if the end solution really has nothing to do with Google. That makes sense, right!?
But when you think about it, there’s no way for Google’s algorithm to know who is talented at their job and who isn’t. For example, a good haircut is pretty subjective, and Google’s AI is a long way from omniscience.
But what Google CAN do is identify and synthesize trust signals created by regular people who are going about their lives. For local search results, Google relies on customer reviews. In other words, a positive review from a customer 👨🏿🦱 signals to Google that you are a trustworthy service provider. The more positive signals you accumulate, the more likely Google is to recommend your solutions.
Imagine Tom, Dick, and Harry (pun intended) all shared positive experiences about a barbershop. If Sam is looking for a barbershop, then Google’s algorithm might recommend the same location to him, too.
So teach Google. Help the algorithm understand that your work is exceptional and deserves to be recommended. And the easiest way to do that is to get some powerful reviews on your GMB page.
The Local 3 Pack
When you search within Google for a local service (lawyer, mechanic, doctor), you’ll usually be rewarded with a Local 3 Pack—this refers to the map that pops up and shows suitable search results that are in physical proximity to the searcher. And because searchers know you are local, they are more likely to click on your search result ✅
Getting into the Local 3 Pack is GREAT for your business. We know that people consistently click on the top results in Google. And the map and search results appear at the top of the page over 90% of the time. In other words, your best chance of getting an organic search click is to be in the Local 3 Pack.
It goes without saying that if Google lists you in the Local 3 Pack, then they probably trust you enough to include you in the main search results, too. In other words, you can lock up multiple spots in the same search results just by being in the Local 3 Pack.
Sounds great, right! But how do you get in the Local 3 Pack?
As you’ve probably already guessed, the most reliable way to be included in the Local 3 Pack is to get lots of positive reviews. The more ‘trust signals’ you generate in the form of reviews, the more likely Google is to include you in the Local 3 Pack.
As a real-life example, it’s probably not a coincidence that SociallyInfused has 82 stellar client reviews; and also shows up #1 in the Local 3 Pack when you search for “digital marketing agency Hamilton.” They also show up in the top search results for the same search phrase because Google knows they’ve generated lots of genuine trust signals and are reliable service providers.
We’ve looked at the importance of reviews to impact Google results. But at the end of the day, purchase decisions are made by humans, and positive reviews influence customers and establish competence and credibility.
It’s the same principle as people deciding whether to make an online purchase. The first thing they do is check out the reviews! And, as you might expect, Google reviews are equally powerful for local services.
89% of consumers evaluate how a company responds to online reviews before making a purchase decision.
Part of the reason reviews work so well is there’s only so much time available to decide on the right service provider. Also, many of us don’t have the requisite experience to evaluate a provider properly. For example, a new car owner may not have a clue what to look for when selecting a good mechanic 🚗
Instead, we rely on the reputation and the experiences of others. If other customers had a positive experience, then we probably will too. It’s a bit of a mental shortcut, but it works more often than not. And it saves a lot of time. In fact, Think With Google found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Along the same lines, reviews can act as a ‘tie-breaker’ where multiple firms look equally capable of doing the job. Imagine one company has 40 comprehensive reviews, and the other firms have no reviews. With no other areas of differentiation, you’ll probably choose the company with lots of strong reviews.
In Google search, the words you use to describe your services matter. For example, the search terms “lawn care services” and “landscaping services” are very similar. But they are different enough that Google will likely return different search results. To a large extent, this is because the companies themselves identify as lawn care or landscape solution providers. SociallyInfused learned this while managing one of their longstanding clients, Green Collar Landscaping 🌲
So why is this important for reviews?
Reviews are an incredible way to let Google know what words it should associate with your solutions.
For example, Sales Higher helps businesses with lead generation. So a strong review would include an identifying keyword like ‘b2b email list services’. When the reviewer includes that term in the review, Google associates that phrase with Sales Higher’s solutions.
You’ve probably already spotted the problem! How do you get someone to include your preferred keywords in their review?
The easiest way is to offer to save them some time by writing the review for them. Or, if they agree to provide a review, you can offer a few pointers about what words or phrases to include. Ideally, you want them to mention the specific service you provided so that Google can associate it with your company in a positive way.
Responses & Engagement
You’d think that reviews are a one-way street, but they’re not. If a customer makes an effort to share their thoughts about your product or service, then you should take a moment to reply.
If the review is positive and helpful to others, then a short thank you takes minimal effort.
Negative reviews are more challenging. But it’s worth addressing the criticism with a positive spin. DON’T get drawn into a public squabble (it’s classless and literally a PR nightmare), but do make an effort to address their concerns.
Before you solicit reviews, you should develop a ‘negative review strategy’ so you are prepared if it happens. When you address a negative review, the reviewer may feel as though their concerns have been addressed. When this happens, they can increase their review score, or remove the negative review altogether 🌈
Demonstrating that you are listening to your customers and open to feedback is really important to prospective clients. They want to see that you have positive interactions with the majority of your customers. And where the feedback isn’t flattering, you can use that information to improve in a mature way.
Similarly, Google has indicated that it gives preference to companies that respond to reviews. They love seeing engagement at a local level. And will reward companies that actively communicate with their customers.
Communication is a two-way street, and Google sees active responses as an indicator of your credibility.
Great At What You Do
The process of asking for reviews can help your business even beyond the impact on your search rankings. The best part about asking for reviews is that it makes you great at what you do. Which, in turn, creates a positive feedback loop with Google.
When you download an app on your phone, many of them will ask you to rate them on the app store. But some apps go about it a little differently. First, they ask for your rating. If they like your answer, THEN they ask you to rate them on the app store.
You can follow the same approach with your customers. Explain that delivering quality service is a chief priority for you. And ask whether they would give you five stars. Some will respond enthusiastically, so you can request they contribute a review.
Other customers might be less enthusiastic. That’s great because this is your opportunity to resolve any outstanding concerns about your offering or performance. Find out what they need from you to get to 5 stars.
And if it’s within your power to deliver, then do it.
The extra effort will go a long way, and when you’re done, you can ask again whether they’ve had a 5-star experience ⭐️
Along the way, you’ll discover precisely what it takes to deliver 5-star results for every client, no matter what. And consistent amazing experiences are what Google is looking to promote.
Worth The Effort
Asking clients to leave a review can be a bit scary. What if they don’t want to, or don’t know what to write. But despite the minor hassles, it’s more than worth the effort required to make reviews happen for your business.
Reviews will not only help you improve your services; they’ll help you get new clients, too. Below is a real-life example of an individual who reached out to SociallyInfused Media for SEO services. She found them via their GMB profile and was looking specifically for local SEO services in Hamilton.
By the way, she moved forward with them and has been a delighted client for almost two years now. And yes, she ended up leaving them a Google review 👌🏽
Google sees a positive review as a ‘vote’ in your favor. As you accumulate votes, you’ll start being added to the Local 3 Pack. And over time, Google will have a better understanding of what you do and ways you add value to your community.