Is it time you ‘reviewed’ your Google Reviews strategy to improve sales?

(the answer is: probably, yes…)

(by Ian Hainey, CEO, iHC)

Opinions are powerful – we can see this clearly in the dramatic rise in popularity of influencer marketing, Facebook reviews, product comparison websites, TripAdvisor and, of course, Google reviews when it comes to making purchasing choices.

There are numerous ways for customers to share their opinions of your business, services and products, so it’s a crucial competitive element, which, if not approached effectively can either provide an edge or hinder potential.

Now forming one of the most important steps in the purchasing decision of so many, Google reviews majorly influence customers, impacting whether they walk through your door or visit your website. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure this crucial first impression is as enticing and polished as possible – it should act as a welcoming mat, rather than a warning sign when potential customers come knocking.

This can be easier said than done, as online reviews attract the emotional: either those who have had an incredibly positive experience, or, more often, those knee-jerking, fuming and driven by vengeance. Unless you can convince Google otherwise, a bad Google review can be stuck there forever. But bear in mind, the whole system would fail if there were only positive reviews.

Consider this: if you are searching for a service and Google returns five listings but one has double the reviews, with a higher rating than the others – which listing are you more likely to click on? Google also rewards businesses for having more reviews by ranking them higher against competitors in search results. This is a crucial area of modern search engine optimisation (neo-SEO) all too often ignored, where you can quickly optimise your search by following some simple steps.

It is important to respond to both negative and positive reviews and Google makes this easy by emailing a link every time we receive a review, allowing us to click and reply. Remember, potential customers will also read your feedback, so don’t be shy about adding more details regarding what was delivered and not-so-subtle reminders of your USPs.

As mentioned, you can also request that a review be removed if you feel it is unjust or fake, but you will have to furnish Google with proof and a compelling argument for taking this action. Don’t be alarmed when you get your first review below five stars, as it can look less than authentic when a company has only five-star reviews. The golden star beside your company’s link, showing you indeed have reviews, already propels you ahead of those with none.

Be proactive about getting reviews from happy customers. We regularly send a personalised message by email or WhatsApp, with a direct link to the review section, asking our customers to click and review. Always check the link in an incognito browser window or a colleague’s computer, to ensure it works as a direct link before sending to the customer, as from experience, people usually don’t like to perform more than one click to find the correct review page.

Here are some other actions your business can implement to receive more, better quality reviews, gaining additional control of the online opinions about your business:

Create a competition

Contests can help provide more incentive for people to write a Google review. For example, if you own an aesthetic clinic, consider posting a competition on social media and displaying it on an iPad in reception, where the winner gets 50 per cent discount or free treatment during their next visit. As part of the contest entry, a Google review must be posted and a screenshot of the review sent to a number via WhatsApp. This type of competition could be replicated on product packaging or within the box of a product.

Review requests on receipts

Particularly if you have a high-volume sales business, through numbers alone, requesting a Google review on your sales receipts should, over time, increase the number of Google reviews you receive. If you send electronic receipts, even better, as you can include a clickable link direct to the Google review page as part of the receipt email.

Retargeting for reviews

Companies with data collection facilities can go back to registered customers and provide them with an incentive to write a Google review. If the promotion is paired with a special offer, it might even provide a double-whammy as a review and new sale are achieved.

Well-documented greed in recent years through attempted capitalisation upon and advertising-revenue-based manipulation of the user-generated reviews systems by the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp, have further pushed the global emphasis on and trust towards Google reviews.

But let’s not be too harsh on the other review sites for not having the apparent scruples of Google. Most of them are competing for advertising revenue to fund their extensive Google Ads habit, as they pour vast quantities of cash into Google’s coffers to maintain their market share.

It’s no news that Google is the god of advertising revenue. However, let’s look more closely at how it is cornering the hotel market as an example. When you search for a hotel in Google , such as “Al Qasr hotel” in the UAE, you get the hotel’s location, hours, phone number, reviews, website, and rates in a neat search box. Whether on a laptop or on a mobile, it is in nearly all situations the best starting point for a hotel search. Look at the comprehensiveness of the search results, bringing up Google My Business (GMB) and then showing the prices of other review sites, disincentivising you to even bother checking them out:

There are over 4,000 reviews on GMB to browse, which is more reviews than TripAdvisor, every bit as useful and easy to navigate as TripAdvisor and infinitely more trustworthy a resource in terms of objectivity.

While many hotels have spent the best part of the twenty first century obsessing over TripAdvisor, the ones who maintained their efforts on Google reviews are benefiting more from its ever-increasing popularity thanks to ongoing upgrades, improving value for the end user. While TripAdvisor may still boast about being the ‘world’s biggest review website’, it is becoming increasingly secondary behind Google.

The go-to resource for any business interested in modern search optimisation (neo-SEO) techniques should be GMB, with the Google reviews section being of particular importance in driving sales. So, don’t set up your basic GMB profile and then leave it be. Spend time on it, get to know it well, populate it and return to it on a regular basis – more than once per week. Look out for more GMB tips in future….

Bonus tip: Are you using any of the free tools that can transform sales for your business? I’ll bet your competitors are. I’ve put together 10 top tools you should be considering for your business to make this year’s sales performance one to remember here.

iHC is the MEA 2018 B2B Agency of The Year and 2019 Best Agency for Integrated B2B Marketing Services.If you would like some help with sales/ lead generation and content marketing, then contact  +97145584785 or: click to send me a WhatsApp.

If looking for more information so you can try these tactics yourself, then you can order my book, Promoting Your Business 2019, in eBook or paperback by clicking here

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