Tips to get more reviews on Google My Business as a local business.

Some thoughts around the topic of generating more reviews on your Google My Business profile.
Leaving a review on google my business using a computer

I recently read this article on Search Engine Journal which offered a few tips on how to generate more reviews on Google My Business and other business listing platforms.

While all the tips in the article are genuine and are 100% applicable to any business, I wanted to share some additional thoughts on the topic  

Here are some of feelings I have about generating more reviews for a Google My Business profile.

The importance of Google My Business review

I don’t think I need to go into considerable amounts of detail as to the importance of generating more reviews for a Google My Business profile. The topic has been covered in-depth, but here are some important factors which are worth mentioning.

  1. They are one of the major ranking signals used by Google when determining where a Google My Business profile is listed in search/maps results.
  2. They allow potential customers to find out more about your business from people who have used your services before.
  3. Responding to reviews as a business helps the customers believe in the brand more and feel part of its community.

Plus, research from BrightLocal has shown to suggest that reviews increase customer click-through-rates on Google My Business profiles, and a profile with a healthy number of reviews with a high rating are considerably more likely to use that business over another.

My personal opinion on reviews (from someone who has worked in the industry for a while) is that a good review profile (by ‘review profile’, I mean the quality of the reviews on a GMB page) is critical in maximising Google My Business and making it generate a local business more revenue. 

However, while it seems easy on paper, in practice, it isn’t. Asking for reviews can be scary, and a lot of the concerns I hear from local business owners is that they are scared of hearing something which they don’t want to.

What we as local SEOs tend to forget that business owners aren’t robots who have 0 personal opinions. A review of their business could be heartbreaking and very emotional.

How to ease the emotional stress of asking for more reviews

In reality, to generate more reviews for a local business, you need to get the owner (and their staff) on board with a review building process. 

Automating a review process using software is fine if the business can afford it (I’m talking about emails, SMS and social media messaging bots), but it does take away the personal touch which helps build customer relationships and repeat custom.

In my experience, talking to the customers directly and from the heart gives much better results than letting a piece of software take over. The customer review rate is much higher, plus you get to ask customers genuinely what they think and how you can improve to make your service better.

With my local business clients, I come up with a process which will work for their business and their emotions. If they are apprehensive, I have been known to physically sit in their store a couple of times a month and talk with their customers after they’ve received service. This approach doesn’t work for all businesses, but it does work for most.

The more you show how comfortable for a business owner a process can be, the more likely they are to adopt it and make it part of their routine.

Tactics which I know work to generate more Google My Business reviews

Here are a few tips from my tactics treasure trove which I use with my clients.

The back of the business card email capture

If a customer is in a rush, ask them to leave their email address on the back of a business card (you can design a more bespoke capture card if you like), so you can get in touch with them because you value their feedback. This will not only build an email list (if you get the correct consent), but it also means that you can continue building a relationship with the customer long after they have left the store.

Does this sound like a lot of effort? Maybe. However, I consider it worth it because 1) builds your customer reviews (and we know that’s important) and 2) creates a fantastic relationship with the customers as you’re genuinely trying to find out their opinion of your business.

The leave a review instruction card

While a less personal approach than other tricks I mention, the instruction card (I think the size of a business card is big enough) is a straightforward implementation any business can do for a minimal cost.

An instruction card is literally what it sounds like. It is a small card which has a simple set of instructions which coaches a customer through how they can leave a review. The problem with an instruction card is that it’s rather impersonal, but you can improve this with the messaging you place on the card.

The instruction card doesn’t need to go into depth or be over-designed. It needs to be short and easy to follow. When I design these cards for clients, I simply place their logo in the centre of the back and a short amount of instructions on the front which details the EASIEST way for someone to leave a Google My Business review.

If you want, you can also leave an incentive on the card which says something along the lines of “show your review next time you visit, and we’ll give you 5/10/15% off your next visit”. (percentage off would be determined on a business’ margins)

The process which goes alongside the instruction card routine is to PHYSICALLY hand it to a customer at the point of sale. Don’t leave them in a little box at the front of the store (because no one will take them), PHYSICALLY take one and give it to the customer before they leave. Mention in a few words how much you value their opinion as a customer and that a review goes a long way to help your business.

The sympathetic ear approach

Some may call this cheeky, I call it telling the truth. If you run a small local business (or any business for that matter), then you know the struggles which face on the day-to-day. It is a LOT of work to get a business up and running, and most owners pour their heart and soul into making it work. I see no problem in trying to lean on the sympathy of your customers and be brutally honest with them.

You need a review because it will help the business stay open and not close down.

Being honest with a customer and spending less than 5 minutes educating them on why a review is important to your business should not be considered begging; it’s being open and honest with them. If they believe in your business and want you to stay open, then whipping out their phone and writing a quick review isn’t much to ask in the grand scheme of things.

The ‘follow-up’ message/email

As I’ve mentioned previously, I believe (in my experience) sending a message which isn’t automated is the best way of securing more reviews. If you’re new to building reviews, I would actively discourage you from going down the automated route before you’ve got a good review strategy in place.

If you’ve captured a customers email address, or you’ve been talking to them via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or SMS, you’re in the prime position to write a short (but heartfelt) message asking the customer for their opinion of your service and whether they would take the time to leave a review.

I have a set of templates which I use for my clients, but these are heavily edited before they are sent out to a customer. A template should stay as a template, and by this, I mean that it should be used as the foundation for the message you send, not the message itself; otherwise, you may as well automate the whole process with software and bots.

When writing a message to a customer, pay attention to the way you’ve already been talking to them (if you have). There is nothing more jarring for a customer one way and then pivoting to ‘big corporate speech’ when you start asking for feedback. Keep the messaging as casual (or as formal) as you’ve done so originally.

Consistency in messaging is crucial as it reduces the confusion of what your business is and trying to achieve. 

Wrapping it up

It goes without saying that reviews on Google My Business (and other business listing platforms) are essential, and there are many tips and tricks out there to help generate more of them.

When gathering reviews, I prefer to spend the extra effort and take a personal approach. However, there are plenty of other methods which also work.

What I believe all us local SEOs can agree on is the following steps should be taken to achieve a good review profile.

  1. Create a process.
  2. Make the process part of the routine and the culture of the business.
  3. Train your staff to follow the process.
  4. Answer every single review – good or bad.

If you need help with your Google My Business optimisation or Local SEO strategies, please take a look at my services and get in touch. I would love to hear about you and your business and how we can work together.

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