(Guest writer: Lucinda Honeycutt)
These days, it can be hard to stand out from your competition online. Every day, thousands of new websites come online, all vying for attention and clicks. Google My Business reviews are a great way to strengthen your online presence and local SEO. When done right, those reviews can even make you money.
How? With an effective Google My Business profile, complete with reviews, your prospects are more likely to choose your company.
With more leads, you’ll convert more of those potential buyers into paying customers.
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Start with a solid Google My Business (GMB) Profile
That means taking the time to fill out everything that’s applicable to your business after you add or claim your profile. To maximize the benefit of participating in GMB, create a separate profile for each of your locations.
Make sure you do the following:
- Complete all relevant attributes for your business – including listing your business in up to 10 of the most relevant categories.
- Add your logo as your profile photo
- Add other quality photos and videos of your business – and continue to add them on a regular basis
- Add products or services
- Add your most commonly asked questions (and their answers) to the questions and answers section.
- Use the Posts feature (more on that below) to add new content to your profile regularly.
Reach out to current & past customers for a review
To increase the chance of your GMB profile showing up in relevant search results, you need a high review ranking. And you can’t get that unless you have customer reviews.
Send an email to all of your customers, politely asking them for a review of their experience with you. It’s okay to send out a reminder a week or two after the initial contact, to those you know did not leave a review.
Always take the time to respond to the reviews customers leave you, even if they don’t show your business in a positive light.
The idea is that prospective customers will see your responses and know that you’re an attentive business owner. People know that a business isn’t going to keep all of its customers happy all the time, and are more likely to look past negative reviews that they see the business doing something about.
Why are reviews so important? Not only can they help boost your credibility and trustworthiness as a company – but they can influence consumer choices. Research shows that 89% of consumers worldwide read reviews before making a purchase.
Think a 4-star review will hurt your business? Maybe not as much as you’d think. Nearly 60% of people say they continue to do research if they find a company that has all 5-star reviews. It makes them question the review’s authenticity.
That same research shows 62% of consumers won’t support brands they believe practice review censorship – manipulating reviews to make themselves look good. They feel the same way about fraudulent reviews, which are rampant across the internet today, especially on Amazon.
Use all the Google My Business features
GMB is more than a way to land your business in the local map pack. It also includes a variety of features that make it easy to educate potential customers about your business, such as:
- Questions and Answers
Attributes give you a quick and easy way to tell Google and searchers about your business – things like:
- Accepted payment types
These are things that people may be searching for and need a quick answer to. If they’re looking for a dog-friendly bar with outdoor seating – and you offer that but don’t have it included in your GMB profile, you could be missing out.
In 2020, Google added some additional attributes to help you educate your customers about how your business operates. These include:
Health and Safety Attributes
These attributes are designed to help people make decisions about the businesses they want to visit in person. These attributes include:
- Appointment required
- Staff get temperature checks
- Temperature check required
- Staff wear masks
- Mask required
New Attributes for Restaurants
- Curbside pickup
- No-contact delivery
Additional Attributes for Online Services
These are designed to make it easier for businesses to indicate the services they’ve opted to make virtual. Options include:
- Online appointments
- Online care
- Online classes
- Online estimates
Google created this attribute in response to increased searches for “black-owned” businesses as a result of heightened awareness of racial inequality. Launched in February 2021, it’s currently only available to U.S.-based merchants participating in the Google Merchant Center program.
Businesses that enable this attribute may notice that the change doesn’t go into effect immediately.
Posts are boxes with some text, an image, and a call to action. Use them to make announcements of new products or services, share a discount offer with your audience, or share an event.
The Q&A section lets people submit questions about your business. It’s intended for customers to be able to answer those questions, but, if left unmanaged could be harmful to your brand.
Instead of waiting for your customers to do the work for you, you can create your own FAQ, by asking and answering the most common questions you get. Just remember you’ll do this on the front end of your profile, rather than the backend.
Other new features for business owners:
- GMB Messaging: Users can send you a message to ask questions or get more information. Aim to respond to these messages within 24 hours to prevent Google from revoking your messaging privileges.
- Call Logging (Beta): Google is creating a feature that lets you see recent calls from customers who arrived via search.
- More GMB insights: New reports make it possible to see how many people have reached out after visiting your GMB page. Additional reports are in the works, making it possible to see how many times your GMB profile appeared in search results and data on Google Maps searches.
Customer engagement is a key metric for how well your business is doing. Leveraging GMB and all its features give you a direct connection to your customers through Google.
It helps you control the information Google provides to prospects about your business. Putting resources into it will provide a great return on your investment.
(This guest post is written by Lucinda Honeycutt for Hongkiat.com. Lucinda is the Head of Content for Orbit Local (orbitlocal.com). She has 13 years of experience in content creation, WordPress, and SEO. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge-watching true-crime TV or listening to an audiobook.)