How to Get Google Reviews: The Ultimate Guide (2018 Edition)

This guide has everything you need on how to get Google reviews for your local business, how to handle negative reviews, and how to raise your star rating on Google.

If you’re new to Google reviews, you’ll learn the basics quickly and simply. You’ll also learn where you should focus your efforts, so you don’t spend a lot of time trying tactics that don’t work.

If you’re a digital marketing pro with lots of experience in how to get Google reviews for local businesses, you’ll get some advanced pro tips as well as a more strategic framework for prioritizing your efforts for maximum impact.

Bottom line: This guide is your primary resource for how to get Google reviews. This is the one “ultimate” guide you need to bookmark and refer back to whenever you need a refresher.

Contents

Chapter 1

Are Google Reviews Important for Your Business?

Chapter 2

How to Boost Local SEO with Google Reviews

Chapter 3

How Google Reviews Reduce SEM/PPC Costs

Chapter 4

The Surprisingly Simple Key to Success with Google Reviews

Chapter 5

Getting Started with Google Reviews

Chapter 6

How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews

Chapter 1

Are Google Reviews Important for Your Business?

In this chapter, you’ll learn how customer reviews drive sales. After reading this chapter, you’ll know how to focus your efforts on the most important review sites—Google or otherwise.

Customer Reviews:

Google vs Yelp vs Facebook vs ….?

F irst things first: Which review site is most important? Should you focus on how to get Google reviews…or reviews from some other review site? More people now use Google for reviews than Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor or any other review site. 

But Google reviews are seen by the general consumer market, not your specific niche market. So industry-specific review sites may generate better qualified leads for you than Google reviews.

So if you have a local business and you’re wondering which review sites are most important, do this:

First focus on 2 review sites: Google and the leading review site for your industry (if one exists). If there are no big review sites for your industry, just focus on how to get Google reviews.

For example, if you’re in real estate, focus on getting Google reviews and Zillow reviews. If you’re in the hospitality industry, focus on Google reviews and TripAdvisor reviews. If you’re a doctor, focus on getting Google reviews and Healthgrades reviews. You get the idea.

This approach will give you broad coverage with a larger, more general market (via Google reviews) and also give you focused coverage with a smaller but much more qualified market (via reviews from your leading industry-specific site).

Do customer reviews really increase sales?

Absolutely! Positive reviews increase sales. Having no reviews hurts sales. Negative reviews hurt sales even more than having no reviews at all.

The 3 main ways reviews help (or hurt) sales:

Perceived Value

Customers perceive greater value in businesses with better reviews, which causes them to visit those businesses more often and accept higher prices when buying from those businesses.

SEO

Google and other search engines use reviews to decide which local businesses to include in local search results when customers search for a business.

Conversion Rates

If your business has great reviews and a high star rating, customers will flock to you. If your business has few reviews, a lower star rating, or no recent reviews, then customers will flock to your competitor who has great reviews and a high star rating. In the age of digital marketing, the local business with the best customer reviews gets great conversion rates on everything from SEO to SEM/PPC, while everyone else suffers lower conversion rates and high customer acquisition costs.

How do we know for sure that reviews increase sales?

Controlled studies have confirmed it.

A study by Cornell showed that hotels that increased their review scores by just 1 point (from 3.3 stars to 4.3 stars) were able to increase their prices by 11.2% and still maintain the same occupancy and market share.

Another study by UC Berkeley economists showed that restaurants that just barely get a 4 star rating on Yelp sell out 19% more often than restaurants that almost get a 4 star rating, but instead get a rounded-down rating of 3.5 stars. The restaurants they compared had nearly identical average star ratings. The only difference was whether Yelp rounded their ratings up to 4 stars or down to 3.5 stars. Great proof that customers’ perceived value of 4 stars vs 3.5 stars actually drives differences in sales.

A study by BrightLocal found that review star ratings directly impact click-through rates from Google search results. Specifically, local businesses with a 5-star rating got 28% more clicks from the Google Local Pack results than businesses without ratings, and 39% more clicks than businesses with a 1-star rating. The study also found that businesses with 1 to 3 stars earned fewer clicks than businesses with no star ratings at all…showing that low star ratings actively hurt CTRs (and any resulting sales) while high star ratings actively increase CTRs (and resulting sales).

Chapter 2

How to Boost Local SEO with Google Reviews

In this chapter, you’ll learn specific actions you can take to use customer reviews in a way that will help your business show up at the top of Google’s search results whenever customers search for your type of business in your local area. After reading this chapter, you’ll know what local SEO is, why you should care about local SEO, and how to boost your local SEO rankings using your customer reviews.

What Is Local SEO & Why Care?

When your local customers search for a local business like yours on Google, do you show up in their search results? If not, you may be losing a lot of business to your local competitors who do show up.
But Google only shows a few links to local businesses on the first page of search results. So you have to compete fiercely with other local businesses for just one of those prized links from Google.

With all the competition, how can you be one of the few to rank your local business on the first page of Google’s search results?

The answer is “Search Engine Optimization” or “SEO.” Or more specifically, “local SEO” which is SEO for local businesses that local customers want to visit in their own local area.

Local SEO is a very deep topic that deserves its own “ultimate guide” and it’s not the scope of this guide. But it’s so important for local businesses to understand that you’ll find a list of links at the end of this chapter to help you embark on your journey to learn more about the extensive topic of local SEO if you want to.

What we will cover here is the important role that customer reviews play in local SEO.

The Link between Customer Reviews and Local SEO

As it turns out, customer reviews are the #5 most important factor in local SEO rankings for the Google Local Pack links, which are the most prized links that drive the most traffic to local businesses. In fact, reviews are even more important than behavioral signals from customers themselves and social signals from social media sites.

In case you’re curious about the other ranking factors, here they are from most important to least:

  1. My Business Signals (Proximity, categories, keyword in business title, etc.) account for 19% of all factors resulting in local SEO rankings
  2. Link Signals (Inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, linking domain quantity, etc.) account for 17% of all factors resulting in local SEO rankings
  3. On-Page Signals (Presence of name/address/phone, keywords in titles, domain authority, etc.) account for 14% of all factors resulting in local SEO rankings
  4. Citation Signals (aggregator name/address/phone consistency, citation volume, etc.) account for 13% of all factors resulting in local SEO rankings
  5. Review Signals (Review quantity, velocity, and diversity, etc.) account for 13% of all factors resulting in local SEO rankings
  6. Behavioral Signals (Click-through rate, mobile clicks to call, check-ins, etc.) account for 10% of all factors resulting in local SEO rankings
  7. Personalization Signals account for 10% of all factors resulting in local SEO rankings
  8. Social Signals (Engagement on Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) account for 4% of all factors resulting in local SEO rankings

How to Boost Your Local SEO with Good Customer Reviews

Take these actions to “move the needle” on the metrics that most SEO experts agree have an impact on local search rankings:

Increase Google Review Quantity

Maximize the quantity of native Google reviews…specifically those with text, not just the ones where people just click a star rating without writing a review. (More on this in Chapter 4.)

Encourage the Right Keywords

Encourage customers to use terminology in their reviews that searchers also use when searching for your type of business, such as the name of your type of company or products.

Encourage the Use of Positive Words

Encourage customers to use words with a positive connotation in their reviews rather than words with a negative connotation, since Google uses “sentiment analysis” algorithms to try to determine if a review is positive or negative.

Improve Review Frequency/Velocity

Regularly get new reviews on a steady, ongoing basis, rather than just occasionally getting bursts of reviews followed by long periods of very few reviews. (More on this in Chapter 4.)

Use High-Authority Review Sites

Get reviews on the major review sites, since they have strong SEO domain authority.

Use a Variety of Review Sites

Get reviews on a wide variety of different review sites, and get enough reviews on each site that they converge on having the same star rating and other consistent signals that Google’s algorithms can pick up on.

Get High Ratings

Get high star ratings on all review sites, especially from high-authority reviewers such as the Yelp Elite and Google Local Guides. (More on this in Chapter 4.)

Get Review Snippets

Use schema markup on your website to show review snippets in search results, which takes over more page real estate and typically increases click-through rates.

Learn More about Local SEO

Still want to learn more about local SEO in general? Check out these resources as a good “jumping off” point to begin your journey into the expansive subject of local SEO:

Moz

Explore the Learning Center’s Local SEO resources and the Local SEO blog category from Moz, the company that makes industry-leading software for SEO professionals.

Neil Patel

Check out The Definitive Guide to Local SEO by Neil Patel, notable digital marketing expert on how to drive website traffic that converts to sales.

HubSpot

Read A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO by HubSpot, makers of the Marketing Hub Content Management System which includes many SEO features baked in.

Yoast

Subscribe to the Yoast SEO Blog or take online SEO training courses by Yoast, the makers of the SEO plugin that has become ubiquitous throughout the WordPress community.

Chapter 3

How Google Reviews Reduce SEM/PPC Costs

In this chapter, you’ll learn how customer reviews can either save you a lot of money or cost you a lot of money in both SEM/PPC advertising costs and overall customer acquisition costs. After reading this chapter, you’ll know how to take specific steps to use your customer reviews to drive down ad costs and bring in lots of new customers.

The Link between Customer Reviews and SEM/PPC

Think customer reviews have little to do with generating leads from paid advertising? Think again. Positive customer reviews drive down the advertising cost of acquiring customers. Negative customer reviews drive those costs up. You can only maximize your advertising return on investment by having a concerted effort to get lots of positive customer reviews.

What happens after someone sees your ad? There’s a very good chance they compare you to your competitors on a review site before making a buying decision. A whopping 93% of consumers read local reviews to decide if a business is good or not, with 35% always reading reviews first, and an additional 31% regularly reading reviews first.

In fact, Google now often includes review information right on the search results page, so your prospective customers don’t even have to leave the search page to compare your reviews to your competitors’ reviews. 

The net result is that you’ll pay a lot more for every lead you get through pay-per-click (PPC) or any other SEM advertising unless you learn how to get Google reviews that work for you and not against you.

Here’s the play-by-play of how ad costs go up when you don’t have excellent customer reviews….

  1. First, customers click your competitor’s ads more often than yours, since your competitor has excellent reviews.
  2. This means your ads get a lower click-through rate (CTR) than your competitor.
  3. Then your AdWords Quality Score goes down, since your CTR has a big impact on Quality Score.
  4. A low Quality Score means Google requires you bid more than your competitor to get the same ad placement your competitor gets, since your competitor has a better Quality Score due to higher CTR.
  5. You pay more. Your competitor pays less. And your competitor gets most of the clicks.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. While your ad costs are going up, your total customer acquisition cost goes up even more.

After the ad click, your sell-through conversion rates are also lower than your competitor’s sell-through rates, since consumers buy more often from businesses with better reviews.

Ultimately, a weak review profile causes low conversion rates at every step in the customer’s journey, causing your cost per sale to rise considerably…which then causes your margins and profitability to fall.

But wait! There’s still hope.

A strong review profile causes higher conversion rates and lower ad costs, causing your cost per sale to drop considerably…which then causes margins to rise. Yay, profitability!

Here’s how….

How to Boost SEM/PPC Performance and Drive Down Costs with Google Reviews

Take these actions to put your customer reviews to work for you, bringing you lots of high-quality leads while driving down ad costs and overall customer acquisition costs:

Complete Your Google My Business (GMB) Profile

Create a Google My Business profile and fill in as much information as possible, including photos, location, contact information, hours of operation and website. BONUS: Actively optimize your Google My Business profile for best results in local search results.

Make All Review Profiles Consistent

Make sure the name, address, phone number, and other identifying information is perfectly identical for every review profile across all review sites. “Identical” as in “every…single…character…is the same.” Don’t list your phone number on one review site as 1-555-123-4567 and then list it on another site as (555) 123-4567. Make every single character identical across all review sites. Why? So that Google’s algorithm has the highest possible degree of confidence that these different review profiles are all referring to the same business as your Google My Business profile.

Get Lots of Reviews to Get Google’s AdWords Seller Ratings

Get 150 or more unique reviews across a variety of major online review sites, and make sure you get an average rating of 3.5 stars or better. (We’ll cover how to get Google reviews with a high star rating in Chapter 4.)

Once you get enough unique reviews and have at least a 3.5 star rating, Google’s AdWords Seller Ratings extension automatically kicks in and starts showing your star rating in your ads.

When your star rating is displayed, your ad gets more vertical space, increasing click-through rates. And your click-through rate increases even more if you have a star rating that’s as strong as any other competitors’ ads.

A high star rating also boosts how credible and trustworthy you seem to your prospective customers, increasing sell-through rates even after the click-through.

WARNING: Some major review sites don’t count toward the 150+ reviews you need to qualify for AdWords Seller Ratings. Think Yelp will help you with Seller Ratings? Nope! Click the link above to get a complete list of the review sites Google supports.

Learn More about SEM/PPC

Still want to learn more about local SEM or PPC in general? Check out these resources as a good “jumping off” point to begin your journey into the expansive subject of SEM and PPC:

PPC Hero 

Dive into an ocean of information on SEM and PPC on PPC Hero by the digital marketing agency Hanapin Marketing.

Search Engine Watch

Check out the wealth of articles in Search Engine Watch’s PPC category.

Search Engine Land

Tune into Search Engine Land’s SEM channel for a steady flow of SEM/PPC articles.

Search Engine Journal

Read a wide range of SEM/PPC articles in Search Engine Journal’s Paid Search category.

Chapter 4

The Surprisingly Simple Key to Success with Google Reviews

In this chapter, you’ll learn exactly how to get Google reviews that successfully drive real results. After reading this chapter, you’ll know to focus your efforts on the only 3 metrics that matter, and you’ll know specific actions to take to get lots of positive reviews on a regular, ongoing basis.

The 3 Key Metrics that Matter

So you get it now. You understand that your customer reviews drive the success (or failure) of ALL your other marketing efforts. Customer reviews determine how much you pay for advertising and how much you pay to acquire a new customer. Customer reviews determine whether or not you even show up in search results when your prospective customers search for your type of business.

So how can you learn how to get Google reviews that help you succeed in all your other marketing efforts, too?

The answer is pretty simple. Focus on the only 3 key metrics that matter:

Quality

The key metric to measure the “quality” of your customer reviews is the average star rating your business gets on any given review site.

Quantity

The key metric to measure your “quantity” of reviews is simply the number of reviews that make up your average star rating. Notice that any reviews that are filtered out (such as those that Yelp labels as “not recommended”) do not count toward your quantity of reviews since they do not affect your average star rating.

Recency

The key metric to measure the “recency” of reviews is the number of days/weeks/months since a customer left the most recent review your business has received.

Bottom Line: Simply put, to succeed with customer reviews, you need a high overall star rating (quality) from a high number of people (quantity) with several reviews that are relatively new (recency).

How many stars should a business have on Google?

Simple answer: At least 4 and ideally either 4.5 stars or 5 stars.

Better answer: More than your local competitors.

Detailed answer:

Almost half (49%) of consumers report needing at least a 4-star review before they choose a business. They see businesses with fewer than 4 stars as low-quality businesses, and those businesses suffer the consequences in the form of lower sales and higher customer acquisition costs.

Interestingly, a 5-star average rating may not be better than a 4.5-star rating. Some people suspect reviews are fake when they see too many 5-star reviews.

The best you can do is get an average rating that rounds up to 5 stars, but have a profile that shows some noticeable 4-star (and maybe even 3-star) reviews so that your prospective customers see that your reviews are legitimate and they can trust the authenticity of the 5-star rating.

How many reviews should a business have on Google?

Simple answer: As many as possible.

Better answer: More than your local competitors, but at least 20 even if your competitors have fewer.

Detailed answer:

Keep working aggressively on getting more reviews until you have at least 20 customer reviews on Google.

But don’t sacrifice quality! If you have 20 reviews and a 3-star rating, that’s worse than having 0 reviews.

As you get more and more reviews, people take your average star rating more seriously.

At 0 reviews, you have no average star rating.

At 1 review, you have a star rating, but it’s worthless because no one takes that 1 review from your mom seriously.

At 6 reviews, you’ve just met the bare minimum requirement for only 66% of consumers who search review sites…and even they know that your mom just got her bingo night buddies to write a review for you.

At 10 reviews, you’ve met the bare minimum requirement for 86% of people to take you seriously.

At 20 reviews, 93% of consumers searching review sites will take your average star rating seriously.

And as you keep adding more reviews beyond the first 20, your average star rating continues to look more and more legitimate to everyone who sees it.

Also be sure to take a look at your competitors.

If your competitors have fewer than 20 reviews, that doesn’t mean you can relax. That just means prospective customers don’t believe the star ratings for any of you.

If you have a competitor with an impressively high number of reviews, prospective customers will flock to that competitor over you even if the average star ratings are the same for both you and your competitor.

The number of reviews doesn’t just affect customers’ perceptions. It also affects the search results on many major review sites.

A business with a high number of reviews is far more likely to show up at the top of the first page of search results when a prospective customer searches for a business to buy from.

A business with a low number of reviews is likely not to be buried on the 10th page of search results (where no customers ever go) even if the business has a 5-star rating.

How frequently should a business get customer reviews on Google?

Simple answer: Every 3 to 7 days

Detailed answer:

Think every 3-7 days is too often? Think again.

Nearly 1 in 5 consumers (18%) don’t consider a review relevant unless it was written in the last 2 weeks! And 77% of consumers say that a review won’t influence their buying decision if it wasn’t written within the last 3 months.

So the ultimate goal is to have several reviews that are no more than 2 weeks old at any given time.

If you get an average of 1 review every 7 days, you should almost always have at least 1 review within the last 2 weeks, even accounting for peaks and valleys of activity and inactivity.

If you get an average of 1 review every 3 days, you should typically have multiple reviews within the last 2 weeks, giving your prospective customers more than just 1 recent review to boost your credibility.

If you get reviews more often than every 3 days on average, you may trigger Google’s fraud detection algorithms to start suspecting the reviews are fake. So pace yourself if you find you’re in the unusually fortunate position of getting more 5-star reviews than you can handle.

How to Get a High Quantity of Google Reviews

They key technique for how to get Google reviews in quantity is simple: Ask EVERY customer.

Of course, one big problem with asking every customer for a review is the amount of time and effort required. If your business gets more than just a few customers per day, you and your employees may quickly find yourselves overwhelmed by the task of simply asking for reviews.

Fortunately we happen live in an age of easy, affordable marketing automation tools. Whether you ask in person, by phone, by email, by text message, or through a tin can tied to a string, there is probably a tool out there somewhere that can help you automate the process and make it quick and easy for all involved.

If you plan to ask customers for reviews by email or SMS text message, Rising Star Reviews offers a web-based tool that automates the entire process. The business owner or employee just enters the name and contact info for the customer and clicks the “Send” button. The rest is managed by the system, including sending follow-up messages to customers who don’t respond, sending thank you messages to those who do respond, collecting customer feedback, and generating reports so you know how each customer responded.

WARNING: Never buy fake reviews from shady characters in trench coats, and never offer your customers compensation for reviews. If you use either of these tactics, not only will you be violating Google’s policies, but you’ll even open yourself up to lawsuit risks. The FTC prohibits “undisclosed paid endorsements,” which is just a confusing way of saying that you are legally required to inform consumers whenever you show a review that has been paid for. So you can either open yourself up to lawsuits or you can add a comment to each review you get that says something like, “By the way, we paid them to say those nice things about us.” One exception: You can give customers compensation after they have written a review, as a “thank you.” You just can’t promise or give customers compensation before they write the review.

How to Keep Google Reviews Fresh and Recent

The key technique for how to get Google reviews frequently so you always have fresh, recent reviews is simple: Ask for reviews EVERY day.

Avoid asking for reviews as a “marketing campaign” or “batch process.”

Don’t wait until the end of the month–or even later–to ask for a review.

When you request reviews in bulk, you get no reviews for a long period of time before the bulk request, then suddenly a lot of reviews, then no reviews for a long time again. In other words, you only have “recent” reviews for a couple weeks every now and then. The rest of the time, your most recent reviews grow stale.

Bulk review requests also trigger Google’s fraud detection algorithms. You may find that Google has deleted many of your reviews, since the sudden appearance of a bunch of reviews looks very suspicious to both Google and ordinary humans alike.

Pro Tip: Strike while the iron is hot…within 24 hours after concluded business with a customer. Your customers are far more likely to give you a review immediately after concluding business with you, when their memory is still fresh and their positive feelings about you are still strong. That’s when happy customers are typically at their emotional peak and most likely to give a truly stellar review. That’s also when customers are most likely to take action and write any sort of review at all.

Create a daily routine of asking for reviews from customers you’ve just satisfied that day. The result will be higher conversion rates to your request to write a review and higher star ratings from happy customers. And…of course…your Google My Business page will also get a steady flow of fresh reviews every week, rather than a sudden surge of reviews.

How to Get Google Reviews with High Star Ratings

The key technique for hot to get Google reviews with high-quality star ratings is simple: Pre-screen customers.

Would you ask a severely dissatisfied, irate customer for a review after he yelled at you at the top of his lungs about how terrible his experience was with your business?

Of course not. That would be crazy.

Yet, we just got through explaining why you should ask every customer for a review.

What gives?

Well…you should still ask every customer…just not for a public review on a major review site like Google.

Instead, you should ask every customer to rate your business in a private, one-on-one communication, so that you know if you’ve satisfied the customer sufficiently enough to have earned a good review.

If the customer says you did a great job, then congratulations! You have a happy customer. Ask for a public review on Google.

If the customer says you didn’t do a great job, then you still have work to do before you have earned that great review on Google. Maybe you need to turn the customer from dissatisfied to happy. Or maybe you can’t, but you still just need to know about the customer’s problems so you can make sure similar customers in the future are not dissatisfied for similar reasons.

Pre-screen every customer with a private communication to find out how you did before you assume each customer is happy, declare victory, and ask each customer for a review. Then, only after pre-screening, ask happy customers for Google reviews and unhappy customers for feedback so you can improve in the future.

The Rising Star Reviews tool makes it easy to pre-screen customers by sending them an email or SMS text message that asks them to rate the business on a 5-star rating scale.

When the customer clicks a high number of stars, the tool asks for a review on a major site like Google.
But when a customer clicks on a lower number of stars, the tool instead asks the customer for private feedback (not a public review) so you can learn how to earn a higher rating in the future.
This way, you get “credit” on Google from the customers you make happy, and you get private improvement feedback from all other customers until such time as you can earn their top-rated review, too.

Chapter 5

Getting Started with Google Reviews

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to create a Google My Business account and how to create a direct link you can share with your customers that takes them directly to the page where they can enter a review for your business. After reading this chapter, you’ll know how to get started collecting Google reviews the right way…the way that gets more customers to leave a review and the way that helps your local SEO efforts.

Create Your Account

Now that you’re an expert on how to succeed with Google customer reviews, let’s get down to the nitty gritty details of how to get started.

First, you need to create your Google My Business (GMB) account. Do this by following Google’s instructions.

As you go through Google’s instructions, make sure every review site profile you have uses the exact same information you use in your GMB account to identify your business, such as business name, address, phone number, email, and website URL. And take “exact same information” ultra-literally. Every…single…character. Don’t list your phone number on Yelp as (123) 456-7890 and then list it on Google as 123-456-7890 and then list it on Facebook as 123.456.7890. Make sure every single character is identical across all review sites. This will help Google’s algorithms detect that these separate web pages on separate review sites all belong to the same business.

Do you care about your local SEO? If so, be sure to check out Sherry Bonelli’s informative article on how to make sure your GMB account is optimized properly for Google search.

Once you’ve created your GMB account, made sure all identifying information is identical between your GMB account and all other review profiles, and optimized your account for local SEO, you’re ready to start asking customers to review your business.

How to Create a Direct Link to Write a Google Review

Once your GMB profile is looking awesome, it’s time to start sending customers to it so they can write reviews. Just one problem: Google doesn’t make this easy for either you or your customers.

The Easy (But Wrong) Way to Link to Google Reviews

You could just search Google for your business, click on “reviews,” then copy and paste the URL. But this gives you a ridiculously long link URL like this:

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1ASUT_enUS516US516&q=real+estate+agents+in+atlanta,+ga&npsic=0&rflfq=1&rlha=0&rllag=33769205,-84366734,3741&tbm=lcl&ved=0ahUKEwiinbXbiPrbAhXig1QKHUpDBR8QjGoIYw&tbs=lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:2&rldoc=1#rldoc=1&rlfi=hd:;si:;mv:!1m3!1d77640.225082064!2d-84.4176027!3d33.796906299999996!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i307!2i281!4f13.1;start:140;tbs:lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:2.

A URL like that doesn’t exactly look inviting enough to make customers want to click.

But the bigger problem with that URL is that it won’t work the same way for everyone…even if it appears to work for you for a while. Different people using different browsers on different devices will experience different results when loading the page at that URL.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and your customers who click on the URL will see your review page. But this forces customers to click again on the “Write a review” button before continuing. As every good digital marketer knows, every click you add to the process causes some percentage of people to fall out of the process, reducing conversion rates.

And sometimes your customers won’t see your review page at all, since the URL is not fully supported by Google. Instead, some customers will just see the search results page where they’re still left wondering how to leave you a review.
When customers encounter a long URL or a confusing experience after clicking a link, they often just abandon the process and decide it’s just not worth the time and effort to leave a review.

The Right Way to Link to Google Reviews

Instead, you’ll get far more customers to leave you a review if you can give them an easy, convenient link that takes them directly to the “Write a Review” page for your business.

A link like this one:

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJjwT9lmkG9YgR5eiDfsslHPY

…which takes them directly to a convenient page where they can immediately write a review, like this one…

If you’re a Rising Star Reviews customer, just log into the Rising Star Reviews app, go to the Dashboard, click “Manage review pages,” then “Add new review page,” then “Google.” Search for your business, and when you find it, click “This is my business.”

Done!

Whenever you use the app to send a review request to your customers, they’ll be forwarded directly to where they can immediately enter a review.

If you’re not a Rising Star Reviews customer, we’ve still got you covered!

Just use our free Google Review Link Generator.

If you prefer the old fashioned manual approach to generating your Google review link, just be aware that there is only one supported URL format for Google reviews that won’t cause some of your customers “technical difficulties” when trying to leave you a review. That URL format is this: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=YOUR-PLACE-ID

Notice that you need to replace YOUR-PLACE-ID with your actual Google PlaceID.

You can find your PlaceID by going to Google’s PlaceID Finder and searching for your business. If your GMB account is set up properly, your business should show up.

For more details about Google review links, including instructions on finding your PlaceID and manually creating the review link, check out our guide on how to get a Google review link the right way.

Chapter 6

How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to handle negative Google reviews like a seasoned Public Relations professional. After reading this chapter, you’ll know how to turn lemons into lemonade. You can’t always prevent negative reviews from happening, but you can often turn them from a PR loss into a PR win.

Your 3 Options for Responding to Negative Google Reviews

You’re rocking and rolling. First you created your GMB profile, optimized the stuffing out of it, filled it with beautiful pictures of your business and your happy customers. Then you automated how you ask for reviews so you pre-screen every customer every day! The 5-star reviews started rolling in. You have good quantity… …good quality… …and good recency. You’re unstoppable! Then wham! You get hit with a scathing 1-star review.
Nooooooooooo! For every 1-star review you get, you have to get 8 more 5-star reviews just to average that 1-star review out to a number that rounds your overall average star rating back up to 5 stars. What ever shall you do now? How can you “fix” that bad 1-star review? Well…you have 3 options:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Get the review removed
  3. Respond to the reviewer

Option #1 is almost never the right answer. When you do nothing, you send a message to everyone who sees the negative review that you just don’t care enough about your customers to respond. Which leads us to option #2…

How to Remove Negative Reviews

Sometimes you can get a negative review completely removed from Google…but only if the review violates Google’s policies. For example, Google does not allow any of the following kinds of reviews:

  • Fake reviews
  • Off-topic social commentary or personal rants
  • Rants with sexually explicit expletives or other offensive language
  • Harassment or bullying of specific people, like employees
  • Reviews from people with a conflict of interest, such as competitors

Check out Google’s content policies for a complete list of the kinds of reviews that google doesn’t much appreciate. To get a Google review removed, simply flag the review as inappropriate.

If the review doesn’t get removed after a week or two, contact Google Support to find out the status of the flagged review. (Just click the “Support” link from your GMB account.)

But in most cases, negative reviews do not violate any of Google’s policies. So in most cases, you should go with option #3 and responding to the reviewer…

How to Respond Directly to a Negative Review

When responding to a customer about a negative review, the last thing you want to do is make the situation worse like these comically cringe-worthy examples of bad customer service.

The most important thing to understand about responding successfully to negative reviews is this: You’re writing a response for future customers, not just for the customer who left the negative review.

Your primary concern is not just the customer you’re responding to, but every customer and potential customer who reads your response for years to come.

This is your chance to show countless people just how customer-focused you really are. Even if the customer who wrote the negative review remains unhappy after your response, you’ll get lots of new customers if your response shows that you clearly went the extra mile to do everything possible to help that unhappy customer.

3 Key Success Factors to Responding to a Negative Review

The 3 key factors to successfully responding to a negative review are…

Timeliness

Respond within 24 hours. The faster you respond, the more likely you are to turn a negative review into a positive one…or at least a better one.

Positivity

Keep a positive, customer-friendly attitude and sincerely attempt to either fix the problem or provide helpful information. Show all future readers of your response that you’re trustworthy and truly dedicated to customer satisfaction.

Brevity

Keep your response to no more than 5 sentences, ideally just 2.

This makes sure people are likely to read your response. People skim review responses first, then decide if they should read the full response. If you keep your response brief and easy to skim, more people will read it.

Bottom Line: Respond quickly (timeliness), keep a positive customer-friendly attitude (positivity), and minimize how many words your response has (brevity).

4 Guidelines for Responding to a Negative Review To craft a truly positive response, follow all 4 of these guidelines:

Express sincere sympathy

Let the customer know that you care about the customer’s experience and truly want the customer to be happy. Acknowledge the customer’s problems or feelings so they know you believe them and care. Examples of language you could use:

  • “I’m sorry to hear that. I can definitely see that’s a problem.”
  • “Ouch! I’m so sorry you had that experience.”
  • “So sorry. Thanks for letting us know, so we can try to make things better.”

Take responsibility

Take responsibility for any part your business may have played in the customer’s dissatisfaction…but not so much that you become a doormat for the customer to walk all over. Examples of language you could use:

  • “We should have done things differently.”
  • “We try hard to give our customers the best possible experience, but we obviously failed to do that for you, and we’re sorry.”
  • “Even though our company didn’t cause your house to catch fire, we’d like to make sure this doesn’t happen again to any of our future customers, so we’re going to stop referring our customers to former arsonists.”

Fix problems

If possible, express your desire to fix the problem and offer contact information so the customer can contact you offline to follow up. Examples of language you could use:

  • “We’d like to ship you a replacement for the defective product. We’ll reach out by email today.”
  • “We’d like to give you a refund. Please just contact customer support and reference support ticket #123 and I’ll personally make sure your refund goes through quickly.”
  • “We wish we could bring your dead cat back to life, but obviously that’s not an option. But if you decide you’d like to adopt a cat, please let us know. We’ll cover all costs for adopting a new cat. Again, you have our sincerest apologies and condolences.”

Inform

If it’s not possible to fix the problem, offer helpful information that might at least let the customer get some relief from the problem, even if it means sending your customer to some other business. Examples of language you could use:

  • “Since our traps are only meant for big game, we’d recommend you try our competitor, ACME Corp. Their Roadrunner 2000 trap is probably a better fit for your unique needs.”
  • “To avoid more explosions, we’d recommend storing the two chemical containers in separate rooms.”
  • “Sorry we can’t help you grow your hair back after the accident with our product, but we can highly recommend you use Quick Grow Hair Replacement Spray-On. We understand they’re the best in the market.”

How to Avoid Common Pitfalls

Even when you craft the perfect response to a negative review, people may not read your response the way you intend. People who read your response don’t know what your tone of voice is, or that you’re a good, honest person. So they may read your words with a completely different tone of voice, and assume you’re a greedy business person just out to make a quick buck.

Try to avoid these 3 common pitfalls that can lead people to misinterpret your response:

Blame

Never blame the customer…even if the customer is entirely to blame. Never even sound like you might be blaming the customer.

For example, some people could read this response and think you sound like you’re blaming the customer…

“We’re sorry you set your hair on fire with our product, and we really want to help.”

…but this response does a better job of avoiding the blame game…

“We’re sorry for your hair catching fire, and we really want to help.”

Negative Words

Never use words that might be interpreted to have negative connotations, even if the point you’re making is positive. Good marketers understand that, to drive customer behavior, the emotional content and associations of words often matter just as much (if not more) than the actual meaning of those words.

For example, some people could have a negative emotional reaction to this response…

“I wouldn’t want to upset you, so I won’t over-promise what I can’t deliver.”

…but a positive emotional reaction to this response…

“I want to make you happy, so I will help in any way I can.”

Excuses

Never say anything that just might be interpreted as an excuse, even when you’re really just trying to inform the customer.

For example, some people might think this response is making excuses…

“I’m so sorry you broke out in a rash. We had no idea you were allergic to soap.”

…but this response does a better job of avoiding people thinking you’re making excuses…

“I’m so sorry you broke out in a rash. I wish we had asked if you were allergic to soap first.”

Should You Also Respond to Positive Reviews?

Yes! Respond to positive reviews with sincere “thank you” responses.

This is a great way to deepen your relationship with each customer who leaves a positive review.

When a customer leaves a positive review, they may feel like they’re risking their own reputation to endorse your business. If a friend of theirs sees their review, uses your business, but then has a bad experience…they may lose credibility with their friend.

Reward them for believing in you enough to take that risk. Acknowledge their review with a warm, sincere “thank you” response. The customer will feel even more committed to continuing to do business with you.

And when other people search for your type of business and they see that you respond to many of your reviews—both positive and negative—they’ll see that you’re truly committed to making your customers happy…making them more likely to become your next customer.

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