Why You MUST have rating/review program(?)
Rating and Reviews Can Build Trust In Seconds
- Potential customers may never even visit your website if your Rating and Reviews are not in great shape in Google’s Search results
- Once on your website, your Rating and Reviews should be instantly evident to help build instant trust
- If you don’t build and maintain your Rating and Reviews the right way, your online presence could be penalized
Think of a recent time when you were shopping for something on Google. Chances are that you clicked or at least considered a company if you saw a good Rating (eg. 4 stars or higher) and enough reviews that the business seemed legit. And this was before you even visited their website !
Now think about the websites you visited as you were deciding who to consider. When you saw that a website features their good Rating and quality Reviews, it likely built some trust with you, far more convincingly than the business themselves saying how good they are.
So one of the most important priorities for your online presence is to get a rating and reviews that are at least competitive, and ideally better than your competition. And then feature these on your website.
Local Business? Show Your Rating and Reviews on Google Searches
When your potential customer is searching on Google, they will often be shown a map with 3 local businesses that match what they are searching for, along with a button to see more local businesses matching the search.
This is free exposure from Google in a prominent spot on the search results page .. below any ads at the top of the page, and above the organic results. And it shows the Rating and Reviews that the business has on Google..
You need to be shown here by Google if you are a local business ie. brick & mortar store/office that customers can visit, or a business that goes to their customers in a local area.
If you don’t already have a Google Business Profile (formerly referred to as Google My Business), it’s free, and easy to set up. Visit https://business.google.com to get started. If you want help setting yours up or optimizing it, the Results Pathfinder team can do it quickly and affordably.
Once your Google Business Profile is created and verified, it’s time to get reviews .. see the section later in this article for valuable tips.
All Businesses – More Options for Rating and Reviews
All businesses, not just local ones, have several opportunities for showing their Rating and Reviews.
Organic Listings – From Your Review Aggregator
If you use one of Google’s official partners (such as Shopper Approved and Trust Pilot), they will maintain a page on their site with all of the reviews collected for your business by them, and when Google includes this page in the organic listings, it will show the Rating and Reviews.
If you run Google Ads, then under certain conditions (especially 100+ positive reviews in the past 12 months), Google will show your Rating and Reviews collected by Google from multiple sources. In the example below, the second ad likely has a better chance of getting clicks than the first because Google is showing their 4.8 Rating and 526 reviews.
If you have a Facebook page for your business, you can collect reviews there. In addition to building trust when someone visits your Facebook page, Google may include this in search results, including the Rating and Reviews collected on Facebook.
Google Shopping Ads for eCommerce
If you sell products online, you can advertise in the Google Shopping section of the search results. Notice how little space there is in the ad, and how valuable it is if you can show your Rating and number of Reviews. Note, these are “Product Reviews” which are different than the “Seller Reviews” that we have been discussing elsewhere. Only a small number of review aggregators are approved by Google and provide Product Reviews, including Shopper Approved and Trust Pilot.
Build Trust Quickly by Featuring Your Rating & Reviews On Your Website
When someone visits a website, a first impression is made in just a second or two, so it is critical to make the most of the opportunity.
One of the key ways to build credibility quickly is to feature your Rating and Reviews on your website; prominently, with no or minimal scrolling. One way is to include a widget that displays from your Google or 3rd party review aggregator in a corner of the screen. Another is to incorporate it into the page design.
Building and Maintaining Your Rating and Reviews The Right Way
We have shown how important it is for any business to get a good Rating and quality reviews, and to show them everywhere possible so that your ideal customer will visit your website, and once they do, get an immediate sense that you are legitimate and worth considering doing business with.
There are 2 parts to this: asking your existing customers, and having a process or system in place to continue asking after each sale or service or consultation.
Before Asking for Reviews
There are some very important things to keep in mind when asking anyone to write a review for you. If you break any of the rules, your Google listing may be penalized !
- Do not offer an incentive in exchange for a positive review. This is against Google’s rules.
- Be cautious asking family and friends, especially if they live in the same location as you. Google can often make the association and may suspect that the review is not real. If your family member is a legitimate customer, consider asking them as a relatively small % of your other reviews.
- Never ever hire a freelancer or company to generate reviews for you. Google usually figures this out, and will penalize you.
- If you are starting from scratch, space out the requests so that Google doesn’t see a sudden spike in reviews and then very few; this will look suspicious to Google.
- Be aware that another rule from Google is to not “gate” the requests (ie. ask if the customer was happy, and only ask them to write a review if the answer is Yes.). This seems an unusual and unnatural requirement. I would first want to make sure my client was happy with our service, and if not I would want the opportunity to make things right. And I think an unhappy customer would find it odd to be asked to write a review when we know they were not happy. One of the automated services that we offer has a workaround that satisfies this requirement, where after answering “No”, the client is taken to a page on the page where they are asked about the situation, and it also includes a link for writing a review.
Ask Existing Customers
A great way to build up your Rating and Reviews is to contact your previous customers, whether by phone (ideal where that level of personal contact is possible) or email.
Start with the most recent customers, remind them about what you did for them, remind them about any highlights, and ask if they were and remain happy with the experience they had with your business.
If they are not happy, you have an opportunity to make it better (eg., you could offer a discount on their next visit/purchase or resolve their issue individually).
If they are happy, mention that reviews are the lifeblood of a business like yours, and ask if they would write a review for your business. If they say yes, then let them know you will email them right away with a link that will take them directly to where they can write the review, whether on Google (preferred for local businesses), a web link provided by the service you use for collecting reviews, or your Facebook page.
Here is an email example that encourages a quality review rather than just “great” (adapt it to your industry as needed; personalize if possible by using words from your previous conversation)
“Thanks SO much for agreeing to write a positive review for me! These reviews are invaluable for a small business like mine.
I encourage you to use your own words to describe [my work/product/project,etc.], what you got out of it, the way it impacted you, and your experience working with me.
Here is the link to where you can write the review: [insert link]
[if your review service supports customers adding photos, consider including something like this:] BTW, do you have any photos of [you using the product/service, or the end result, or you beside your business sign or logo], please include those as well.
Once again, thank you for your positive feedback and for being a valued customer.
If you are collecting reviews using Google, you can get the link for your customers by signing in to your Google Business Profile to use here:
Important tip: If you are starting from scratch, space out the requests so that Google doesn’t see a sudden spike in reviews and then very few; this will look suspicious to Google and they might suspect that you are not collecting legitimate reviews.
After Every Sale / Service
It is important for potential customers and for Google to see recent, ongoing reviews. And to show your customers that you care, you should be following up after every sale / service to see if their expectations were met.
You can do this manually if the number of transactions are manageable, and you or your team won’t drop the ball on this important activity. Of, you can use a review service which can automate the process.
As described in the section above, follow up (personally, or with a survey). If they are not satisfied, you have an opportunity to make the situation right (and avoid losing an ongoing customer, and having them badmouth you to others). If they are satisfied, then ask them to write a positive review for your business.
Tips about Reviews
- Whenever someone writes a review, respond very quickly, for both positive and negative reviews. Ideal is within an hour, no later than the same day. Others reading reviews will see that your business is responsive, and Google also factors in that you respond, and that you respond promptly.
- Never be defensive to negative reviews. Express your disappointment that their experience was not fantastic, and encourage them to reach out to you directly so that you can discuss and make it right.
- The more reviews you have, the better your rating is protected for the inevitable negative reviews.
Automating Review Requests
>> what if they don’t have a way to collect .
If product reviews
Link to official google partners/approved
No matter what, it is critical that on your GMB page you build up a rating that is as good or better than your competitors, and where possible, a lot of reviews. And publish these on your website, as well (see more about this later in this guide).
However, keep one thing in mind. Let’s say that Google one day decides to shut down this service, or bans your page. Now all of those valuable reviews are gone. At some point, plan on using an independent rating/review service in addition to GMB so that your valuable asset is protected and in your control. Look for more about this in the “What Should You Do Next” guide.