Google Reviews

Introduced in 2010 the star rating system became an instant source of unwanted anxiety for many business owners. In a world of fake news and fake reviews “customers” could now air their feelings on a business. Whether they had actually visited, or not, was not always the point.

Fast-forward 10 years and things haven’t really changed. Fake reviews are more common than ever and frustratingly removing them can be quite challenging.

Moz (an excellent developer of SEO tools) have gone into detail on the challenges of removing reviews here. The short version – it’s not easy and often, not possible.

Get Control

First up, you need to ensure you have control of your “Google My Business” account. You can do that here at Google. 

Learn how it works

Google actually have a short online course here. It’s short and at the end of it you will  have a much better understanding of what it’s all about.

What is good? What is bad?

As a general rule you really want to have 20-30% more reviews than your local competitors. As a minimum I would say 20+ is a pretty good spot for an average medium-sized NZ business.

Star rating are tricky. As an average you should try to be better or at least close to your opposition.

Bad is anything below 4. If you have a 4 or less you should start to consider making an effort to turn the ship around.

What’s the best way to deal with negative or fake reviews?

The best way to deal with negative or fake reviews is to be honest. Answer the negative ones with clarity and without emotion. People understand that there is always two sides to any story. When you reply professionally and without emotion, other prospective customers will see it as a positive rather than a negative. That’s Google’s view on the topic and so it’s how it is. Take responsibility when you are in the wrong and provide clarity when you believe you are in the right. If a customer was rude, don’t be afraid to articulate that, no one has time for raging  Karen’s these days. As for the fake ones be very clear why you believe it to be fake. If your business has a CRM system you should state that there in no record of the visit or the client. If it’s real then they may provide additional information. Fake, and nothing more will be said.

Do Google reviews even matter?

Yes, more than ever. Especially if you use Google’s advertising platform. This month, Google have set about linking all Google Ad’s accounts to the respective Google My Business account via “location extensions”. What this means is Google now have the ability to do generate the star rating within the ad. This was possible previously but not enforced. Wonderful news if you have a great rating. Not so good if you don’t.

Is it ok to pay people to remove or change their bad reviews?

Generally no. Asking or bribing people to remove a bad review violates the guidelines set by Google That being said there are scenarios where this makes sense. One scenario would be where you are accepting some fault and you are providing a partial or full refund on the service. In that scenario, it’s entirely fair and reasonable to request an amendment to the review as part of things being set right. Often customers post the review when they are frustrated or angry so don’t be afraid to bring it up during the process. Another may be where you have rectified the issue or concern and as part of that requesting that they revise their negative review.

Do star ratings effect SEO?

They sure do. Have you ever wondered how Google decides what businesses show up in the map’s section? Well the star rating is a huge factor in this. And seeing as this is the second section on the search page to be generated (especially when it comes to services). It should be considered a vital part of your SEO or “getting found online” strategy. It’s not just maps though. Google are pushing more and more product or shopping ad’s to the top of the page. The stars generated on these products has a huge impact on a buyers’ decisions.

While we’re not given all the details on the search algorithm Google sees the star rating as a form of community policing. They talk about how it helps here. 

This doesn’t affect me – we’re the only show in town.

Yea that’s what the bloke from Kodak once told me over a pint in Tokyo. Remember Kodak? Nice, your kids probably won’t.

If you’re the only show in town that’s awesome. But maybe you should make some plays to keep it that way.

Why the big push from Google?

Great question. In my opinion this is to further cement Google as the first/only option to business’s and consumers alike. No doubt this was on the radar but with the talk of Apple entering the search market soon then for the first time in 25 years, Google have something to be worried about. In 2019, they wrote a $13 billion USD cheque to Apple to stay the default option on all IOS devices. But given their recent and ongoing spat around privacy it’s little or no surprise Apple are entertaining entering the search market themselves.

Andy, mine are pretty good.

Nice one. Keep it up!

Are there other rating systems?

Yep, sure are. Yelp and TripAdvisor are super relevant when it comes to Apple devices. More on them at a later date.

So what else can businesses do?

If that was all a bit overwhelming just ask don. Talk to us about our system that encourages your customers to provide positive reviews of your business. We provide incentive to post positive Google reviews and request feedback when it necessary. We use the “kill em with kindness” (or in this case kill em with positive 5 stars) approach.

With all the information above, if Google reviews are weighing on your mind, get in touch and we will discuss how we can help.

Prices start at $145 + gst per month.