Yesterday we got our 10th 5-star Google business review. That was lovely to receive, as was each review before it. It probably wasn’t as pleasing as our fifth which saw us receive those magical golden stars next to our name of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). But it was the one that took us into double figures so it does feel special.
But let me rewind slightly. You might have spotted Google business reviews on the SERPS before. This post explains more about what they are, why your business should care about them, how you can maximise your chances of getting them and if you’ve got them how to show them off!
What are Google business reviews?
They are reviews written by customers about the products or services provided by a business they’ve interacted with. As mentioned in the intro you’ll see links to them all over the Google SERPs. More info here from Google themselves.
You’ll find them…
In the snack pack (top three results below the map) as below for a ‘soft play hire’ search (see the gold stars with 23 in brackets underneath KBS Inflatable Kingdom)
In three places with snippets on the full local pack below (the extended local results you’ll see if you decide to click on ‘More places’ on the SERP above)
In the Knowledge Graph below (the section on the right hand side of the SERP) for branded searches like ‘kbs inflatable kingdom’
Why your business should care about Google business reviews
Reviews are risk-reducers. If I’m looking to hire some soft play equipment, which is a distinct possibility sometime in the near future, it’s unlikely that I’ll know a company that provides this service. After I’ve asked my friends and family for recommendations, like anyone else I’ll jump onto Google and type in something like ‘soft play hire’ or variations on that theme.
I am most likely to contact a business within the snack pack – the top three results – because I’m too lazy to click on ‘More’ and if they’re in the top three they’ve got to be good right? Well possibly, they may well have earned their right to that strong position on the SERPs, but I’m still a little in the dark about which of the three to choose. My next step in the decision-making process would be to look at their websites – but – and this is the important bit – which one am I likely to click on first. It’s the one with the 23 reviews and the pretty little gold stars next to their name.
23 people have taken the trouble to provide a review on the service this company have provided. I’ll read a few, check out their website and likely get in touch with them. This is conversion rate optimisation in one of its purest and most attainable forms. By striving to receive Google reviews for your business you will be maximising the chances of getting people to click on your content when they see it on the SERPs.
How to receive Google business reviews
First, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to claim your Google My Business listing for your business – assuming your business is eligible. Please read our digest of Google’s guidelines to make sure. We wrote a post towards the end of last year, Want to get found on Google..?, which touches on why it’s so important to do this, so we won’t go into any more detail on that here. Suffice to say you can’t get Google business reviews without one so that should hopefully be enough of an incentive.
Once you’ve claimed and verified your listing you’ll create a Google+ page for your business. Google+ is Google’s own social network. You’ll need this to be able to embed your reviews into your website, more on what this means later.
How to maximise your chances of getting Google business reviews
You are allowed to ask your customers for reviews. Google suggest you remind your customers to leave feedback on Google.
Looking back to the three screenshots taken from the SERPs earlier. Two of the three included Write a review buttons. You could ask your customers to search for your business name and click on the button on the right hand side of the SERPs, but we think that’s a little unwieldy. Fortunately so did Grade.Us and they built a tool that allows you to create a link to your reviews page, which you can email to your customers and they can click on to leave a review. Fantastic! Well it is unless you’re listed as a service-area business, because it doesn’t work for them.
All you need do is enter your Business name and Postcode, choose or confirm the correct listing and copy one of the links. We think Open in Search Results is the neatest option (we’d then paste it into Bitly or another url shortening tool and send it out).
There are many schools of thought about when best to ask for reviews. We think asking soon after delivering the product or service is best. You are still firmly in your customers thoughts. Leave it too late and the moment may pass. And without looking too pushy we would suggest mentioning it towards the end of the business transaction with which they are engaged AND by email afterwards. There’s no harm in sending a reminder either if you don’t get a review straight away – we’re all busy right? If you follow up with something in the mail then we’d advise adding something about leaving a review to your flyer or calling card.
How to use the reviews for the good of your business
That the number of reviews your business have received and snippets from them appear on the SERPs is great, but we’d suggest you go further than that. We think embedding (developer-speak for copying) them into your website is a good idea too. We tend to highlight our reviews for each project at the top of our Portfolio posts, as you can see we did most recently with European Malt.
So how can you embed Google business reviews in your content? We stumbled upon this video tutorial that explains quite nicely how to do this, but if you’re looking for simple step-by-steps then please read on.
- Login to your Google+ page
- Switch to the old style (unbelievably this isn’t possible through the new style interface, we checked, so we’re keeping everything crossed that this link doesn’t disappear) – you’ll find a feint link Back to classic G+ in grey bottom left
- Click on About tab
- Scroll down, find the review you want to embed
- Share the review (click on the grey arrow, bottom right)
- Click on View (after Shared to stream in the popup)
- Then the Option menu on the post you just shared – it’ll appear top right when you hover
- Choose Embed post
- Copy this code and paste it into your website
And then you need to tell your community. You can do this via social media or an e-newsletter of course. You’ll probably want to do this in such a way that it doesn’t look like you’re ramming it down people’s throats! There’s no harm telling the clients you’ve added their review to your website, you never know, they may share.
A final thought. We’re still looking into how to earn snippets for our reviews in the Knowledge Graph – you’ll recall that’s the part on the right hand side of the SERPs. That would be pretty cool. If anyone knows what influences Google to include these, or has other thoughts on Google business reviews then we’d love to hear from you via the comments below.
Main image by StockSnap