Why Google Reviews Are Important

Reviews have the ability to transform a business into a lead magnet! Reviews provide social proof and can help establish trust with online visitors. From an SEO perspective, they can improve your rankings and search visibility. In today’s Whitespark Weekly, Darren discusses why it’s so important for your business to ask customers for reviews.

Video Transcript

Hey there, Darren here with another Whitespark Weekly video. Today I want to talk to you about why it’s so important to ask every customer for a review. In this video, I’m going to be showing you how reviews can have an incredible impact on both your rankings and conversions. I’ll be addressing some common concerns that I often hear business say about asking for reviews.

I wanted to give you some really good reasons why it’s valuable to ask every customer for review. The first thing to talk about is the Local Search Ranking Factors survey. Reviews were weighted very heavily in the results. After Google My Business, reviews are the second most important area of signals that Google looks at for its Local Pack and Local Finder results. You can see that in the list of the Top 15 Local Ranking Factors, local search experts agree that reviews definitely have a significant impact on ranking.

You can actually see the sentiment changing over time. If you look from 2015 to 2020, you can see that reviews have changed and have continued to grow over the past three editions of the Local Search Ranking Factors. They’re growing in importance; Google’s putting more emphasis on reviews, they’re becoming more and more important.

They’re also becoming more and more important from a conversion perspective. I asked the survey participants, “What factors do they see driving conversions at Google My Business?” and the top three conversion signals are review-based. 

  1. Having high ratings, 
  2. Having positive sentiment in reviews, and 
  3. Having a high quantity of quality reviews with text. 

Those three things top the list as the most important things for driving more conversions from your Google My Business listing. It makes all the sense when you look at a set of results. Look at these businesses, you’re going to be drawn automatically to the businesses that have a high star rating and lots of reviews. 

If this was the search results, you’re trying to drive more business for ‘Dallas personal injury lawyers’, and your business was the ‘Lenahan Law Firm’ with only 13 reviews, you’re very unlikely to get as many calls or clicks as some of these other businesses in the result. ‘Kraft & Associates’ has 353 reviews. ‘Thompson Law Injury Lawyers’ has 902 reviews. As consumers, people are automatically drawn to the businesses that have more reviews. Not having reviews can definitely negatively impact your rankings and having reviews can positively impact your rankings. 

Review Snippets 
Another significant reason why you really want to invest in reviews is that Google will often pull in little snippets from the reviews into the search results when they match the searcher’s query. So for example, in this query, I searched for ‘drain clearing Edmonton’ and this business –‘Clog ZAP Drain Cleaning Edmonton $155’ (I don’t know why they have that in their business name, but) – they’re getting the text “our drain now works perfectly,” pulled in from the reviews that someone had written. 

If I’m looking at these results, what do I want, I want my drain to work perfectly. So it’s kind of amazing that Google pulled that out, that business now stands out to me, I might be more likely to call that business because the review snippet is exactly what I’m looking for. The review snippets are great. The more reviews you have, the more of these review justifications you’ll be getting in the results for all kinds of different terms. That content in your reviews can drive this extra conversion benefit for you.

Places Topics
Another benefit you can get from your reviews are what are called Places Topics. This is when you have enough reviews, Google starts pulling out specific words and breaking them down for you like so. 

In this case, ‘Wezee’s Plumbing’ has 11 reviews that mentioned the word “experience”, they have nine reviews that mentioned “call”, six reviews that mentioned the word “responsive” – these are all pretty valuable words. If I’m looking for something specific, like let’s say I got a problem in my bathroom, I can click that. And it will filter by the specific reviews that mentioned that term, which is fantastic. So this is great. It also will pull out additional benefit from your reviews if you have enough of them. 

Another great reason for reviews is they will make your listing stand out from competition that doesn’t have this. And it can address the specific thing that the searcher is looking for, because you have reviews that are mentioning it. So Google is picking up on that and pulling them out and presenting them to the user. So that’s another good reason why you want to be asking for reviews. 

Unique Rich Content For Your Website
But wait, there’s more! 

Reviews can also provide some fantastic unique content on your website. If you look at some of these businesses, they draw from their reviews on Google, they draw from reviews on other sites, they use first-party testimonials provided by customers. And they use it to create all this rich content on their website.

So this is an example of a personal injury lawyer. They’ve got a testimonials page where they’ve pulled all of this fantastic content in, they’ve got like 34 pages of comments from customers, they’ve got their Google reviews getting pulled in. You can use this tactic on a dedicated testimonials page. You can use it on your services page. So if you have a page that is about a specific service, and you’ve got reviews that mentioned that specific service you can add that content to those pages. If you have specific location pages, it’s a great way to drive fresh, unique content to those pages. And it’s the kind of thing that keeps coming in as long as you continue to ask. You’re providing a fresh feed of keyword rich content on all these pages, it’s really valuable. 

Reviews Transformed This Business
I’ve seen cases where reviews can almost single handedly transform a business, I wanted to show you an example. This is a business that we started working with in 2015. Eager Beaver Moving. When they started working with us, they had 4 Google reviews and a 4.2 rating. At that time, they were getting maybe 20 leads per month from Google. 

These days – as of yesterday, when I took the screenshot – they have 528 reviews on Google, because they implemented a system to make sure that they ask every single customer for review. Now they have 528 reviews and a 4.9 rating. It’s been phenomenal. First of all, they were successful at getting lots of reviews, they get lots of high quality reviews, because they do a good job. But it’s had a revolutionary impact on their business. Their business has been transformed because of this review strategy. 

They used to get 20 leads per month from Google. Now they’re getting about 350 leads per month from Google. And that’s the combination of both rankings and conversions. That’s a 1,650% increase in business because of the review strategy. Of course they’ve been doing other things, they’ve done more SEO work on their website, they work on their Google listing, they do all of the other things. But review strategy has absolutely played a huge role in the success of this business. 

And the same thing can happen for your business if you invest in reviews. It’s undeniable how beneficial the reviews are. 

Looking for expert help to implement a winning review strategy for your local business? With our Google My Business Management Service you’ll have a dedicated GMB expert at your side who helps you manage your reputation and works with you to grow your reviews and connect with customers. 

Roadblocks to Reviews

What if I get negative reviews?
Many businesses are still hesitating, they still have concerns about asking for reviews. One of the concerns is that they’re worried they’re going to get negative reviews. Well, let me tell you that it’s more likely that you’ll have more negative reviews if you don’t ask. Well, you might have the same amount if you don’t ask.

If you never ask for reviews, what ends up happening is this: people that had an slightly or very negative experience are likely to leave you a review. You don’t need to ask that person to leave a review, they’re gonna go and do it because they had a bad experience and they want to share that with the world. They want to warn people, “hey, don’t use this business because [insert whatever the problem was].” They will publicly talk about it. 

A person that had a positive experience will go on with their day. They hired the moving company/the plumber/the lawyer, they had a good experience, great. You know they’re happy but they’re less inclined to just, out of the goodness of their heart, go and leave a review. 

That’s why it’s really important to ask. If you don’t ask for reviews, your reviews on Google will typically look like this: you have a 3.4 rating and only five reviews. Then you’ll see some negative ones. Every once in a while, some good-hearted customer will go and leave you a positive review without being asked. And that’s great. This doesn’t help you shine on Google. This will not help you drive more business from Google.

If you do ask for reviews, your reviews will typically look more like this: you’re going to have 100 to 200 reviews. So many positive reviews and all the positive reviews end up burying the negative reviews because you’re now encouraging all of those customers to leave you a positive review. So anyone that had a good experience is now being asked and, with the prompt, are much more likely to actually go and do it.

I don’t want to bother my customers
Another thing that you hear is people are concerned that they’re going to bother their customers, they don’t want to be a bother. And so they don’t want to ask.

To that I would say that leaving a review is really commonplace these days, most people are leaving reviews or have left a review. There’s surveys and studies out there that show that 70% of people have left reviews. And another really important thing to keep in mind with this is that your competition is likely asking for reviews. If you don’t ask for reviews, you can end up in this situation where you’re the business with the 5 reviews that’s not standing out in the search results and not ranking very well. Meanwhile, your competition is asking for reviews and they have 200, they’re standing out and they’re driving rankings and getting the call. 

So it’s worth it to get over that concern about bothering customers. Most people don’t actually feel it’s a bother if you do it in the right way. And getting those reviews is so valuable to your business. 

I operate in a sensitive industry 
Another concern you often hear is from businesses, like criminal defense attorneys, is they’re worried about the potential content of the review. If your lawyer got you off of a DUI charge, you might not want to be public about that in the reviews, like “Yeah, my lawyer got me off of my charges.” It’s reasonable for these kinds of industries to feel like their customers aren’t going to want to leave a review. 

But if you look at businesses in these industries, you’ll find lots of businesses with tons of reviews. We had a client with a similar concern so they never asked for reviews. They started asking and you’d be shocked how many people are perfectly happy to leave a review. And they can do so without revealing the details of their case. Just be like, “Working with my lawyer was awesome.” They could talk about their experience with the firm, with the lawyer. They don’t have to go into details. But some people are happy to go into details and you can just leave that to the reviewer to decide. The benefits of asking far outweigh anything uncomfortable there. 

My industry prevents me from asking
There’s another case where some industries actually have in their code of ethics that they’re not allowed to ask for reviews. Businesses like psychologists and social workers. So how can these businesses improve their reviews and reap the rewards of reviews? One suggestion here is that they can ask for reviews of the office. 

And so the front end staff could potentially ask for a review and say, “Would you mind reviewing your experience at the office?” They can even just preface that with like, “Not a review of your therapist, but a review of your experience of the office” and that kind of stuff. You can see examples of that in the search results for psychologists. So this one here, this person left a review, “I worked with Betsy in the office to get a counselo. Betsy worked really hard for me,” You’re reviewing the front end staff. 

You can ask for a review for your administrative staff, but not necessarily for the therapist because of the code of ethics. There’s also no ethical restriction to asking colleagues, other people that you’ve worked with, to review you online. You see this tactic being used by psychologists too. In this case, this business here has reviews from people that she knows in the industry, people that she went to university with – you can still solicit reviews from people that aren’t your direct clients. 

So that’s another way to build up your reviews. And one of the benefits of doing that is if you have reviews on your listing that might make your clients more likely to see “Oh, you have reviews? Yeah, I’m gonna leave a review too.” So there are some slight workarounds for these sensitive industries that have it in the code of ethics that you’re not allowed to ask for reviews. That’s something to keep in mind. 

Okay, that wraps up my reasons for why you absolutely must ask for reviews, why they’re so valuable, and addresses some of those common concerns. 

Simple Steps to Getting More Reviews

I want to leave you now with some quick tips for how you can get more reviews. 

Ask Every Customer
So the first absolute golden rule is make sure you ask every customer. Absolutely every customer that you work with should be asked for a review. And you should make it easy for them to review you. Make it really simple. You can either send them an email or an SMS and include a direct link to your Google listing for them to leave a review. 

So you shouldn’t just be like, “hey, look us up on Google.” Say, “here’s a direct link.” 

We have a great free tool on our website called the Google Review Link Generator. You just put in your business and it’s going to give you a link that goes straight to the review section. So as soon as a customer clicks it, it pops up the review thing as long as they’re logged into Google and it makes it really easy for them to leave your review. 

Another thing to consider is that if you have a high volume or you just want to put your review requests on autopilot, there are a lot of software systems. We have one called Reputation Builder. You can load up your customer list or we can integrate with your system. It’ll just put the whole thing on autopilot, you can customize the templates and your reviews will be coming in. Of course, the software monitors reviews and does lots of other things too. So that’s a way to make it easier and to make sure that you’re always asking for reviews. 

Don’t Offer Incentives
Another important tip is to make sure that you don’t include any kind of incentive, like a gift card or a discount, when you ask for reviews. If you do, you run the risk of getting all your reviews removed. We’ve seen that happen to businesses before where all their reviews have been taken down because they ran a contest or they were reported for offering Starbucks gift cards for reviews. So don’t do that. And you don’t really need to do that. Just a simple ask is enough. 

Diversify Your Reviews
And then my fifth and final tip is to make sure you actually diversify beyond Google. I would focus on Google for that conversion factor, making sure that you are one of the businesses in the results that has the most number of reviews. Then once you kind of achieve that, make sure you’re asking across a whole set of different sites. So you should ask for reviews on your industry’s prominent sites. If you’re a lawyer it’d be the legal-specific sites or dentist, the dental-specific sites… any sites that are prominent in your industry.

Well, hopefully, you are now convinced that reviews are certainly worth it and you’re going to invest in that strategy. It really is one of the most important things you can do to improve your local SEO, your rankings and your conversions. It’s just so critical. As always, please subscribe to our channel on YouTube and sign up for our newsletter. That way you’ll never miss any of these Whitespark Weekly videos. So that’s all I got for now. See you next time.

Do you ask every customer to leave a review? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for expert help to implement a winning review strategy for your local business? With our Google My Business Management Service you’ll have a dedicated GMB expert at your side who helps you manage your reputation and works with you to grow your reviews and connect with customers. 

AUTHOR

Darren Shaw

Darren Shaw founded Whitespark in 2005. The company specialized in web design and development, however, Darren's passion and curiosity for all things local search led Whitespark to focus primarily on local SEO in 2010 with the launch of the Local Citation Finder, followed by the Local Rank Tracker.

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