You’ll quickly and easily get more Google reviews (the most you can possibly get) when you follow all 10 of our review marketing “best practices.”
We’ve spent years helping countless businesses get more Google reviews.
In this article, we’ve compiled the 10 best practices that have an outsized impact on review marketing conversion rates. Think of this article as your personal blueprint for how to get the most Google reviews your business can get.
How to get more Google reviews:
- Focus exclusively on Google (at first)
- Lay groundwork on-site, then ask off-site
- Ask promptly
- Use personal messages (and avoid “pretty” messages)
- Ask every customer (Use a tool to make it fast and easy)
- Verify satisfaction before asking for a Google review (but comply with Google’s review gating policy)
- Send at least 2 follow-ups
- Use an optimized Google review link
- Get Google reviews from your website
- Promote reviews in email signatures
1) Focus exclusively on Google (at first)
Focus exclusively on getting more Google reviews before you focus on any other review site.
Google is by far the most important review site for most local businesses. It’s more important than Yelp, Facebook or any other general review site, because Google is where customers go most often to find businesses.
So focus exclusively on Google.
Don’t promote Yelp or Facebook or any other site.
When asking customers for a review, don’t give them a choice of several review sites. Instead, make it simple and easy for them by asking specifically for a Google review.
I know what you’re thinking: But won’t some customers not leave a review at all if they don’t have a Google account? Shouldn’t I give customers an option in case it’s easier for them to use Yelp than Google?
Yes, some small number of customers will not have a Google account but will have a Yelp account, and they may not leave you a review at all, even though they would have left you a Yelp review.
But this is an edge case that doesn’t happen very often.
And there’s a much more common case that happens when you give customers a choice: They would have left you a Google review, but instead they decide to give you a Yelp review.
Or worse still: They would have left you a Google review, but they just didn’t feel like making a decision about which review site to use, so they abandoned the process altogether and left you no reviews on any site.
Yes, this happens, and it happens a lot. The key to getting more Google reviews is to make it as easy as possible for customers, which means not asking unnecessary questions.
Instead, ask every customer for a review by giving them an easy-to-use link that goes directly to Google. Just take them directly to where they can write a review without being asked unnecessary questions about review sites first.
By focusing exclusively on Google and simplifying the process for your customers, you’ll boost your conversion rates and start getting you more Google reviews.
Once you have enough Google reviews and an excellent star rating on Google, then you should consider shifting your focus to Yelp or Facebook or another business review site.
How many Google reviews do you need? You need at least 40 reviews for most searchers to believe your star rating is accurate, and ideally more reviews than your competitors.
What Google review star rating do you need? You need 4.0 stars for searchers to trust your business at all, and 4.5 stars or more to give searchers confidence in buying from your business.
2) Lay groundwork on-site, then ask off-site
When you conclude business with a customer, don’t ask for a review yet!
Instead, while you’re still face to face with the customer on-site at your business location, express sincere appreciation for their business and let them know you’ll be sending them a link to write a review. Let them know that you’d very much appreciate their feedback.
Why should you not ask for a Google review at your business location? Google may delete your reviews as fake if you get a lot of them at your business location, especially if they were written on the same device.
When Google sees a lot of reviews for a business coming from the same device’s IP address at the business location, then Google suspects the business may be gaming the system. For all Google knows, your employees are pressuring customers to give a good review or even offering paid incentives. So Google errs on the side of caution and deletes the reviews as potentially fraudulent.
So don’t ask for reviews while the customer is still at your place of business.
Instead, ask for reviews by email or SMS text message after the customer leaves. That way, Google will see your customer reviews coming from customers’ own devices in various locations around the geographic area you serve.
Another important reason not to ask for a Google review on-site is that you should first try to get honest feedback from the customer before asking for a review (See #6 below) and customers will tend to sugar coat their feedback when you’re standing right in front of them.
You need to know if the customer isn’t entirely satisfied before asking for a review, so you can fix it before asking for the review. That way you’ll get the highest star rating possible.
But if you ask customers when they’re on-site and face to face with an employee, most customers will not want to offend the employee, so they won’t be entirely honest about their dissatisfaction.
When customers respond to an email or text message requesting a rating, they tend to be much more honest in their feedback than when they’re speaking to a live human being.
So show your appreciation when the customer is still on-site and face to face, but ask for feedback later, when the customer feels comfortable being completely honest.
There’s one important thing you should do while the customer is still talking with you or an employee at your place of business: Express your sincere appreciation and let them know that you’ll be sending them a review request.
Your sincere expression of appreciation will go much farther when an employee says it face to face. No email or SMS text message can match face-to-face interaction for sincerity and authenticity.
Just this one “best practice” will significantly increase your conversion rates, so you get more Google reviews.
That’s because, when the customer receives the email or text message asking for their feedback, they’ll remember the flesh and blood human being who said they’d send that message. And the customer will feel like real people will actually be paying attention to their feedback, so it’s worth taking the time to give it.
3) Ask promptly
Timing is vitally important to getting more Google reviews.
First, ask customers for private feedback as quickly as possible after you conclude business with that customer.
Once you’ve verified the customer is satisfied (see #6 below) then ask for a review as quickly as possible.
Customers will never have stronger emotions about their experience with your business than immediately after concluding business with you.
And strong emotions prompt action.
If you ask 100 customers who are ambivalent toward your business for a review, only 1% to 3% may actually bother to write a review. But if you ask 100 customers who feel very strongly about how much they love your business, you may get reviews from 40% or more.
So never wait any longer than you have to. Every day that goes by, your customers become less likely to write a review.
For more detailed advice, check out our article on when to ask for a Google review.
4) Use personal messages (and avoid “pretty” messages)
When you send an email or text message to ask a customer for a review, make the message as personal as possible.
Customers write far more Google reviews when you reach out as a single human being speaking directly to them personally and authentically. They write far fewer reviews when you reach out to them as an “official” (read: faceless) company sending a bulk communication.
So make sure your message sounds like it comes from a single person, such as the business owner or manager. Don’t let the message sound like it comes from the company or a group of people. Use “I” instead of “we.”
Express your heart-felt and sincere appreciation for their business. Make it personal, not “just business.”
Also express how important their feedback is to you, and that you read and appreciate every review and every bit of feedback you get, both positive and negative.
Keep your email as a simple, plain text. Don’t make it look “pretty.”
One of the most common mistakes we see companies make is using “pretty” email templates.
It’s understandable. You want to “put your best foot forward” and have a beautifully designed email that makes your business look fresh, modern, creative, and fun.
But when you do that, you reduce your chances of getting more Google reviews.
That’s because customers instantly see your email as a bulk email from a company, not as a personal email from one human being to another. So your conversion rates tend to plummet when you prioritize “pretty emails” over authenticity.
There’s also added risk that your pretty email will end up automatically filtered into a “promotions” tab or (worse still) the spam folder, since fancy HTML formatting is a great way for email clients to tell the difference between personal emails and promotional emails.
Of course, if branding is a higher marketing priority for you than getting more Google reviews, then by all means use beautifully designed email templates. But just be sure to make it a conscious choice to prioritize branding over getting more Google reviews.
5) Ask every customer (Use a tool to make it fast and easy)
Getting more Google reviews is a numbers game.
For every 100 customers you reach out to, 95 might ever open your email or text message, then 40 might give you a private rating, of which 20 might give a high enough rating that you want to ask them for a review, and 10 of those might actually write the Google review.
So one of the most important ways to get more Google reviews is simply to ask more customers.
Make it a policy to ask every customer for feedback and ultimately for a Google review. (See #6 below for why you should ask for feedback before asking for the review.)
Of course, if you have a lot of customers, asking every customer can become very time consuming.
So use a tool like the Rising Star Reviews web app (free trial here) to make it quick and easy to ask every customer, even if you have hundreds of customers every week.
With a tool like our web app, you just enter your most recent customers’ names and contact info, and the system does the rest.
You can even bulk upload hundreds of customer names and contact info all at once using the bulk review request feature. This feature lets you export your customer contact info from any system into CSV format for upload into Rising Star Reviews.
Once a customer’s contact info has been entered, the system sends your standard email and/or SMS text message to the customer, asking for a private rating.
If the customer gives a high enough private rating (like 4 or 5 stars) then the system immediately asks for a Google review and forward the customer directly to Google to write the review.
But if the customer gives a lower private rating, then the system asks the customer for feedback instead of asking for a Google review. This gives you a chance to reach out to the customer to fix any problems they may have had and increase their satisfaction before then asking for the Google review.
If the customer doesn’t respond at all, the system sends appropriate follow-up emails and/or text messages to check in with the customer and ask again.
Here’s a quick video of how the system works to make it fast and easy to reach out to every customer you have, no matter how many customers you get every week. Or for more detailed features, check out our product page.
6) Verify satisfaction before asking for a Google review (but comply with Google’s review gating policy)
When you ask every customer for a review, you run the risk of getting bad reviews from unhappy customers you didn’t even know were unhappy.
So, to avoid this risk, first verify if each customer is fully satisfied before asking for a Google review.
Specifically, ask each customer how they would rate your business on a 5-star scale.
If the customer would rate your business at or above your current average star rating on Google, then immediately ask the customer if they would be so kind as to share their experience in a Google review.
But if the customer privately rates your business below your current Google star rating, then don’t ask for the review (yet).
Instead, ask for honest feedback. Find out what you could have done better to have earned 5 stars.
Once you know why the customer gave you a sub-average rating, do everything you can to fix the customer’s problems and increase their satisfaction.
Once you know you’ve done everything you can, then ask for the Google review.
It’s important for you to ask for the Google review even if the customer is still dissatisfied after you’ve done everything you can to increase their satisfaction.
That’s because Google has a strict policy against “review gating”—the practice of only asking happy customers for review and not asking unhappy customers. (For a more in-depth analysis of their policy, and various options for complying, or not, see our article on Google’s review gating policy.)
To stay compliant with Google’s review gating policy, you must always ask every customer for a Google review, even if the customer is dissatisfied.
However, there’s nothing in Google’s policy that prevents you from trying to increase customer satisfaction before asking for the review.
So always pre-screen customers to verify their satisfaction before blindly asking for a Google review.
You can verify customer satisfaction manually or through a system like our web app.
If you verify satisfaction manually, you’ll have lower conversion rates and get fewer Google reviews.
That’s because our web app instantly asks happy customers for a review and forwards them to Google’s website to write the review.
But when you verify satisfaction manually, you would need to receive a reply from the customer by email or text message, then manually send the customer a new text message asking for the review some time later, and hope that the customer responds.
You’ll see a significantly higher conversion rate when the customer is asked for the review instantly rather than asked hours or days later in a separate message.
7) Send at least 2 follow-ups
We’ve seen many businesses double the number of Google reviews they get just by sending 2 to 5 follow-up messages after their initial message asking for a review.
There are many reasons why a customer might not respond to the first email or text message asking for feedback.
They might be busy when they see the message come in. They might not check their messages for a while, and it gets buried under lots of newer messages. Or they might just not be in the mood to respond.
When you send your first follow-up message, make it clear that you’re following up because you care about the customer’s feedback enough to want to follow up.
Every follow-up message should focus on the customer’s benefit, not yours.
Don’t ever put pressure on the customer to respond. Instead, focus on expressing your sincere appreciation for their business and your desire to make sure they’re satisfied.
It can get very time consuming to keep track of which customers have responded already and which haven’t.
So our google review management software handles all of that for you systematically.
After the initial email or text message gets sent, the system waits a few days for the customer to click the message to rate your business.
If the customer doesn’t rate your business after several days, the system sends the first follow-up. If the customer still doesn’t rate your business several days later, then another follow-up message is sent.
As soon as the customer rates your business, no more follow-up messages are sent.
You can design any sequence of follow-up messages you like to follow up as many times as you like, and in different ways.
8) Use an optimized Google review link
You’ll get far more Google reviews if you give your customers an optimized Google review link.
We see many businesses make the mistake of copying and pasting the link from their browsers in Google Maps or Google search results.
These copy/pasted links force customers to try to figure out how to give you a review, rather than making it completely obvious, simple, and easy.
The result is that most customers simply abandon the process and never write the review. (For more details, check out our article on how to get a Google review link the right way.)
Or just use our free Google review link generator to generate an optimized Google review link.
If you’re already a member, you can use our web app to create an optimized Google review link. Just go to Dashboard > Manage review pages > Add new review page > Google. Then search for your business by name and address and click the This is my business button.
If you’re unable to find your business in either our web app or our free Google review link generator, this means that there’s a problem with your Google My Business account. (Our system talks directly to Google, so if we can’t find your business, that’s because Google’s Place ID Finder can’t find it.) The most common causes of this problem are that your GMB account doesn’t have a complete set of identifying information (name, address, phone number) or that you haven’t yet completed Google’s verification process.
9) Get Google reviews from your website
We see most businesses get more Google reviews from customer outreach rather than their websites.
But if your website gets enough traffic from your existing customers—not just web searchers wondering who you are—then you may still be able to get more Google reviews by letting your website visitors leave a review.
But don’t just put a link to Google on your website. A direct link to your Google profile won’t allow you to verify customer satisfaction (see #6 above).
You can easily ask your website visitors for a private rating first, then ask for the review if you’ve verified satisfaction, and ask for feedback otherwise… just as described in #6 above.
To do this, just go to Dashboard > Get anonymous reviews. Scroll down to the section on “How to Get Anonymous Reviews” and follow the instructions for Method 2) Your Website. It’s as easy as copying and pasting a code snippet onto your website.
The code snippet will show star ratings on your website that a customer can click to privately rate your business.
When they click a high enough rating, they’ll get a “thank you” page that asks them to write a Google review, then get forwarded to your Google review page.
But when a customer clicks a low rating, they’ll instead get asked for feedback, so you can reach out to fix their problems and improve their satisfaction before then asking for a Google review.
If you’re using WordPress and your website has security features in place that don’t allow the code snippet to work, that’s because many WordPress sites prevent the use of iframe’s. You can easily fix this problem using the iframe WordPress plugin. This plugin will let you add the same information in the code snippet through a shortcode instead of HTML.
For example, a code snippet that looks like this…
<iframe width=”100%” height=”100%” frameborder=”0″ style=”left: 0; right: 0; bottom: 0; top: 0px;” src=”https://app.risingstarreviews.com/reviews/publicembed/123456″ allowtransparency=”true”></iframe>
… would use this shortcode after the plugin is installed…
[iframe width=”100%” height=”100%” frameborder=”0″ style=”left: 0; right: 0; bottom: 0; top: 0px;” src=”https://app.risingstarreviews.com/reviews/publicembed/123456″ allowtransparency=”true”]
Notice the very minor differences in bold.
10) Promote reviews in email signatures
Like website links, we don’t see many businesses get significantly more Google reviews from email signatures. But this can be another way of squeezing out just a few more Google reviews every now and then.
To get as many Google reviews as possible from your email signature, use a graphics link that attracts the reader’s eye.
Just like website links, a straight link to your Google review page may encourage unhappy customers to give you a bad review before you’ve had a chance to address their issues and increase their satisfaction.
So to solve this, you can embed our private rating system into your email signature instead of using a direct link.
To do this, just go to Dashboard > Get anonymous reviews. Scroll down to the section on “How to Get Anonymous Reviews” and follow the instructions for Method 1) Direct Link. It’s as simple as copying the link URL the system gives you, and pasting it into your email signature.
When people click the graphic in your email signature that encourages them to review you, they’ll go to a private landing page instead of your Google review page.
There, they can click a star to give you a private rating instead of a public review.
If the private rating is excellent, then the landing page will thank the customer, ask them to share their experience on Google, and refer them to your Google review page.
But if the private rating is poor, then the landing page will ask the customer for more feedback, so you can reach out, improve the customer’s satisfaction, and then ask for the Google review after you’ve done everything possible to improve the customer’s satisfaction.