At a recent meeting of 20 small business owners we broke into a spontaneous discussion about business reviews on Google. I realized that most small business owners do not know how to use free Google Business features and also many have misconceptions which work against their business.
Your Google Business listing is NOT the same thing as the website you pay for. SOme owners thik they have a listing because they have a website. So I used the search tool below and looked 30 businesses with both the business owner’s name of their business name. I even searched different ways (like with and without spaces etc.) They 1 in 3 had a paid website but not a free Google Business place. Of the 20 that had a Google Business listing half did not have any reviews. (hint: if you get 5 or more reviews the number of reviews helps your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
So, if this is you then create your free Google Business listing before somebody hijack’s their listing by creating a fake one or a SEO company does it for you and then holds your listing ransom for monthly payments.
To see the difference between a website and a Google Business listing search Google for: amc accounting solutions You will see their website on the left and their Google Business listing on the right. You can even have multiple Google Business listings if you have multiple locations. For example Google: UPS Store near me
Each location in Google Business can link to the same or different web page and you can login to update that at any time. So lets get started….
A. Grab your free Google Business listing from Google My Business
Google wants to be the preferred place for searchers to find the business services they need. So they give businesses a free way to register their business with google. For some businesses it may be more valuable to have a free Google Business listing than to create a website. A quick overview:
- Register your business with Google Business – Login with your existing google login (or create one if you don’t have one), share some basic info on your business for example: business categories, pictures and logos, hours, mailing address, website, phone number etc. Decide what to share or keep private. For example I submitted my mailing address but choose to keep it private, as I am not a customer drop-in location. You can also leave some of the fields blank and fill them in later… or never. Some fields ARE required, like mailing address.
- Verify your business – This is important but pretty easy. You tell Google Business your address. They mail you a post card with a code. You then login and type in the code. Google now believes that you are at lease real enough to receive mail. This is for your safety as you don’t want a SEO vendor or a competitor to hijack your business identity. So even if you are not looking to grow your business consider it insurance to register your business name with google business.
- Get some reviews- Even though your business is now registered with google it is very helpful to get some reviews. The best reviews are legitimate reviews from those who have used your business. Readers and Google will know if you fake yourself several reviews. So the best policy is to invite happy customers to review your business. Most of your customers will not take the time to review your business or any business but if you are a B2B business you may find that other B2B business owners will take the time to help out a trusted vendor. You just have to make it easy by emailing them the link to submit your review. Google advises against fake reviews and your competitors might report fake reviews to Google.
B. Create a direct link to your Google Business reviews and share it
next create direct link to your reviews. Your link will be http://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id> except you replace <place_id> with your actual place ID.
For example: for the place id of: ChIJyb00zuxaDogRxr8tREG8Jnc the direct review at: http://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJyb00zuxaDogRxr8tREG8Jnc
Consider linking your Google Business listing somewhere on your website where happy customers might find it.
If you register more than one location with Google Business then you can create a review link for each location. For example: Annie’ s handyman has places in: Wheaton, Carol Stream, Naperville, and Bolingbrook.
The links above are for users who have signed into google. Those are the best most valid reviews but unfortunately most customers will not take the time to login to google. Google seems to have a goal to insure that review are real and part of that is that currently only those who are logged in can create a google review. You migh share this infor with people wanting to create a google login.
Still confused? Well it is a confusing subject so here are 3 attempts by other sources all trying to clear up your questions.
3 other articles about getting reviews from your customers:
C. Prevent negative reviews
- Create your own google place listing. Because, if somebody else creates your Google Business listing then you are not in control of dealing with issues like fake negative reviews. Your business reputation could be at their mercy for some time.
- Have a satisfaction policy acceptable in your industry. Post your satisfaction policy on your website. Live with-in your policy. Follow-up with customers to monitor satisfaction.
- Make unhappy reviewers happy. Once they are very satisfied then encourage them to edit their review.
D. Deal with negative reviews
- Report fake reviews to Google you have a limited time to report them so make it a habit to check your recent reviews. ( if your notice fake positive reviews on your competitors website report them as well.
- Write review responses to negative reviews. Login to your Google business account reply to the review and mention attempts to reach them. Mention your satisfaction policy and what you did to try to make them happy.
- Bury negative reviews. Some people are simply not honest or are too stubborn to let your work it out. So it is time to move forward. Keep your other customers satisfied. Encourage satisfied customers to write reviews. Eventually your old reviews will scroll down the page into oblivion. It is tough to accept but people actually trust your positive reviews if there are a couple jerks who also posted in the distant past.