1. Google is the front page of your website
I have good news and bad news. For many businesses, especially small businesses, Google is the front page of the internet. I have witnessed numerous individuals and even caught myself typing in only the business name into the address bar or the Google search bar, not the domain name. It is simply faster and easier.
2. Google My Business is the front door to your business
Therefore, if Google is the front page, your Google My Business (GMB) listing is the new front door. According to SMA Marketing, "49% of businesses receive more than 1,000 average Search views of their GMB listing per month, and 33% receive 1,000+ views on (Google) Maps." The Small Business Blog by Google says nearly 4 out of 5 people are turning to search engines to find local information.
Now think about the front door to a business. It will typically have:
- Logo or business name
- Phone number
- Address or at least the building number
Now think about what typically shows us on the Google My Business listing for a business:
- Logo or business name
- Phone number with a clickable link to call
- Website link
See the similarities? See why I say that your GMB listing is the new front door!
Making sure your Google My Business listing is as accurate, complete, and optimized as possible
When a user is searching for a service or product, Google does the best job to show the service or product nearest to them. This is referred to as searcher intent. Also, nearly 50% of all Google searches are looking for local information. And almost 9 times out of 10 searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
How to optimize your listing
- Enter complete data for your listing
- Include keywords in the description and the name if you can
- Keep your hours accurate
- Have photos and encourage users to post photos
- Upload a video
- Make sure your name, address, and phone numbers (NAP) consistent on your listing, your website, and across the web
Want to learn more about optimizing your GMB listing?
See our 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Post.
3. Social proof in the form of user reviews
One of the most significant benefits of the GMB other than it contains all the essential information is users' ability to see social proof (reviews) about your business. According to Bright Local, "90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business."
Reviews can say a lot about your business. They are genuine testimonies from other customers that humanize the company. Prospects feel that they can trust the reviews because they are coming from an unbiased source. New reviews boost your ranking on SERPs, and positive reviews give your company a leg up on the competition.
Respond to both positive and negative reviews
If you want to encourage people to visit your business or use your services, then the best thing you can do is respond to both positive and negative reviews.
Why should I respond? Many business owners simply do not respond to reviews. If you take a few moments to respond, then you are already doing more than most. This also becomes an excellent opportunity to engage with your clientele and provides you with another touchpoint.
According to a study by Harvard Business School, they found that responding to reviews correlated with a higher overall star rating. People appreciate engagement, and we all know a simple "thank you," "you’re welcome," or "my pleasure" can go a long way.
Google says to respond
When you try to keep the 800lb Gorrila happy, and it tells you directly what it wants, you tend to set up and listen. Google, the 800lb Gorrila, has gone so far as to say and even confirm that responding to reviews helps your business's search ranking. They also tell you on the support page for Google My Business to "interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business."
Responding to reviews shouldn't be a difficult task for most small businesses. However, you shouldn't think you can just block out a Friday to respond to all the reviews you got that week. Birdeye says, "most customers expect customers to respond to reviews within 24 hours." If that review happens to be negative, then you lost your window to turn the negative into a positive.
If you need some help with responding to reviews, Adam has a great post about it here. We also offer this as part of our services. Contact us to see if it's a good fit for your business.
4. Solicit for feedback and reviews
Make it easy for your customers to leave feedback for you.
- Create a handy guide to make it easy for your clients.
- Order a batch of business cards with a short link to your GMB review page or a QR code to encourage people to leave a review at their convenience.
- Use a review management platform. A good review management platform should allow your small business to send out SMS or email review requests.
- Incentivize employees to ask for reviews.
- DON’T INCENTIVIZE CLIENTS! This is against Google’s rules.
5. Review count
Users and searchers care more about the number of reviews than you might think. On average, a consumer will read ten online reviews before making a purchase decision.
In an old study, the magic number was at least 26 reviews. According to an old post by MarketWatch, 20-50 was enough.
The bottom line is that more is better. I would look at your closest competitor and see how many they have. Ideally, you want to have about 150% more reviews. So if your competitor has 10 reviews, you want to make a goal of getting at least 25 reviews.
6. Review quality
As I mentioned previously, you want to have a good number of reviews. However, if your star rating is low, you will need too many more to counteract the bad ones. Your star rating is an average of all your reviews.
With that out of the way, let’s look at what users think. Nearly 3 out of 5 consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating. Purchase likelihood peaks when the average star rating of a product is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars on a 5-star scale. From Reviews to Revenue: How Star Ratings and Review Content Influence Purchase.
7: Use Reviews to your Advantage
Once you have a good working batch of legitimate reviews, be sure to take advantage of them. Consider adding something in your marketing about how you are a 5-star rated business according to Google or use some of the review comments as testimonials.
If you need help, let us guide you through the wealth of online marketing tools you can use to increase your business reach and return! Feel free to contact us about how to help boost your business reviews on Google, or you can check out our system for managing your Online Reputation.