How Small Businesses Get Noticed With Google Reviews

Posted on September 13, 2023 | Updated on September 13, 2023

Suppose someone needs new brakes on their car. Naturally, they’ll want to locate a nearby auto repair shop renowned for its superior customer service, fair pricing and quality work. What do they do? They conduct an online search and read Google reviews.

Consumers and companies rely on Google reviews for different reasons. Customers want insight into a product or service, while companies seek ways to enhance their offerings and operations.

Essentially, all feedback is critical to a brand’s success. A positive review holds weight in buyer decision-making, allowing companies to garner attention for the right reasons. Here’s everything small businesses should know about Google reviews and their importance to business growth.

What Is a Google Review?

Google Reviews is a unique feature allowing customers to post personal accounts of products and services. The post is public, making it searchable by others when they look for businesses in Google Maps. 

Companies must have a Google My Business account to appear on Google Maps. Meanwhile, consumers simply need a Google account to submit a review for free.

Feedback can be daunting to some. However, brands will improve their reputations and drive more website traffic by garnering positive attention. In turn, they can boost their revenue. 

Google Reviews and Their Impact on Businesses

Small businesses and large corporations are greatly affected by reviews and ratings on Google for the following reasons:

  • Reviews improve your SEO, boosting your brand’s ranking in Google search results.
  • A higher rating — between 4–5 stars — will garner more foot traffic to your website.
  • They improve consumer trust and build your brand’s credibility.
  • Reviews provide essential feedback to improve your brand’s services and products.

According to one study, 98% of people read reviews before purchasing goods and services. In fact, online reviews impacted an estimated $3.8 trillion in global revenue in 2021.

In the United States, consumers rely on their own research for decision-making, whether turning to digital and print sources or reaching out to people they know and trust. A Pew Research Center survey found 88% of Americans have tremendous confidence in online reviews, while 80% say they ensure product safety.

Reviews grew even more popular during the pandemic amid the surge in e-commerce and the consistent flow of information. There was a whopping 76% increase in online reviews in May 2020 — far more than the previous year.

What Makes a Well-Written Google Review?

A quality review is well-written, informative and relevant. Ultimately, you want customers to share something unique about their experience with your brand, highlighting what makes you stand out.

A solid Google review also delivers insight to the company about areas of improvement. Brands should read this information carefully and consider customers’ thoughts and opinions. These tidbits are invaluable and allow you to perfect your business strategy and offerings. For instance, you might create user-generated content for social media with positive reviews.

Your response to positive and negative feedback is just as crucial to a quality critique. Always thank customers for taking the time to write a review. Likewise, apologizing for negative experiences goes a long way for users and customers reading reviews. Kindly ask them to elaborate privately and provide an email address where they can reach you.

What About Fake Google Reviews?

Fake Google reviews are as powerful as legitimate ones, but not for acceptable reasons. About 10.7% of Google reviews are fake. Yet, once detected, these deceptive practices often drive consumers away.

What causes small businesses to resort to fake reviews in the first place? Somebody could have slammed them with negative ratings at some point — or they’re new, trying to boost their credibility themselves instead of earning it. Likewise, competitors may create negative reviews under aliases to give themselves a leg up. 

Trading fake reviews online costs between 25 cents and $100 each, as some private marketplaces seek people to buy their product, leave a review and then issue a full refund plus commission.

Fortunately, it’s about to get harder to fly under the radar. In June 2023, the Federal Trade Commission proposed new guidelines to crack down on fake online reviews. If approved, businesses could get fined $50,000 for each fake review they buy, sell or modify — every time a customer reads it.

How to Spot Fake Google Reviews

Not all brands are behind their fake reviews — some are victims. Regardless, you’ll want to nip it in the bud as soon as they appear. Identify bad actors in the following ways:

  • Look at whether the review consists of specific details explaining their negative experience.
  • Search for complex words — generalities indicate the user hasn’t thought much about their story.
  • Are there several exclamation points? Phantom reviewers use multiple exclamation points and shorter words in their reviews.
  • Check whether the user has reviewed other small businesses and how frequently.

The best way to combat fake Google reviews is to flag them as inappropriate. In your business’s Google account, report a review you suspect is fake. Google will look into your claim and remove it for you. 

How Can Brands Gain More Google Reviews?

Consumer reviews are critical for business success. Therefore, companies want to receive as much feedback as possible. Here are several ways companies can garner more Google reviews. 

Ask Customers Outright

One of the easiest ways to get more Google reviews is to ask them. If you’re a shop owner, post a sign near the cashier to encourage customers to leave feedback online. 

Those offering services — whether plumbing work or consulting — can also ask their customers directly. If you’ve provided exemplary customer service and have met their expectations, they should be more than happy to do it for you. In fact, 50% of those asked to leave a review for a business usually do.

Send Review Requests

Sometimes customers need to be prompted to leave a review. Various review generation tools automate the review process for you. 

Generation programs allow you to fill out a request form in your brand’s aesthetics, including the font, colors and tone. It then emails customers a review request. Just be sure to send only one or two review requests, as inundating customers could have a negative impact and drive them away.

Provide a Link to Google Reviews

Add a link to Google Reviews directly on your brand’s website. Placing it in the middle of the homepage is a great way to draw visitors’ attention.

You can log into your business’s Google account to access an official link to embed on your website or email communications. Be sure to thank the customers immediately wherever you post the link.

Update Your Business Profile

Ensure customers know where to find your business online and leave a Google review. Regularly update your Google Business Profile with the most recent company listing. 

Add professional photos, a distinct description and current business hours so customers stay up-to-date on what’s happening with your company. 

Google Reviews Will Help Your Small Business Thrive

Even the worst reviews present opportunities for your small business to shine — if you respond correctly. Google reviews are essential for companies to succeed. Embrace customer feedback and use it to your advantage. Your brand’s success is a team effort between you and your customers.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.

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