How to Respond to Google Reviews and Conquer SEO

Business owners have access to many digital tools to engage and interact with their customers. They have websites that are easy for customers to navigate, social media platforms to share company news or new articles, Google My Business accounts with updated business information and much more! With so many digital platforms out there, one commonly overlooked component that holds incredible SEO value is online reviews.

Why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Is Important

Before we dive into online reviews and how they can boost your SEO value, let’s talk about the benefits of SEO. Optimizing your website for search is not a quick and easy process, but with ongoing efforts, it can have a significant impact on the value of your website and the amount of purchases and leads you earn.

By including keywords and common search terms within your content and following other SEO best practices, you can rank higher on search engine result pages, leading to more website visitors. However, keywords aren’t the only Google ranking factor; Google also analyzes your business as a whole, including your website health, Google My Business page, online reviews left by customers and any other way people interact with your business online.

Online Reviews Matter For Your Business

When you’re searching for a product or service online, you probably read through a few reviews before making a purchase. If that's the case, you're not alone. Podium conducted a survey that revealed 93% of customers use reviews to influence their purchasing decisions. Google business ratings and reviews hold so much value to potential customers because these are the honest opinions from real people like them. If someone took the time to share their experience with a business, consumers trust what they have to say, almost like a recommendation from a friend.

Reviews significantly impact your Google business rating, and the more positive reviews you receive, the higher your overall rating will be. If businesses have too few reviews or a low Google business rating, some customers will automatically overlook them and choose to take their business elsewhere.

To build up your business’s reviews, just ask your customers to leave one! According to Podium’s study, 77% of consumers are willing to respond to a company they’ve interacted with when asked to leave a review. The key to this process is timing. If you’ve performed a service for a customer, you can ask them to leave a review the same day. When selling products, it’s best to wait about a week or more so your customer has a chance to use the product. Businesses can make asking for reviews a part of their texting or email marketing process. When checking in with their customers after they’ve made a purchase, ask them to leave a review about their experience.

Do Google reviews help SEO?

Absolutely! Positive customer reviews signal to search engines that your business is trustworthy and gives you more authority. This is especially important for local SEO because it could help your website appear in the local pack on the search results page. The local pack is the list of businesses underneath the map, and these results appear above the organic listings. If your site is in the local pack, that means you're ranking in one of the top three spots on Google, and you’ll likely generate additional traffic and more leads. In fact, 50% of users that perform a local search on their smartphones will visit the business within 24 hours.

Google considers many factors when ranking sites in the local pack, including:

  • Location and proximity to the search. Google knows not all customers are willing to go across town to visit a location and will show more options that are close to the searcher. However, if your business stands out as being the best even if it's a little further away, you could still make the list.
  • Number of reviews. The more reviews and interactions your business has, the more Google can understand you are a legitimate business.
  • Google My Business profile. Building an online profile that’s designed to give Google all the essential information about your business can boost local rankings. For the best results, check out some of our Google My Business optimization tips!
  • Keywords in the review. Google often displays some of the top reviews people leave businesses. The keywords people use in their search are in bold, making reviews stand out more. Additionally, the more strategic keywords you can associate with your brand in reviews, the more SEO value the reviews will have.
  • SEO-friendly website. Google will consider the number of pages that rank for your business, how often users are clicking on your content, how much time they spend on your website and more.

Where Should Customers Leave Reviews for My Business?

So far we’ve talked a lot about Google because this is where a majority of users will try to perform a local search. However, it’s not a bad idea for your business to create accounts on other local rating sites, too. This will give potential customers a better chance to find you, especially if there’s a site commonly used in your industry. There are many local rating websites, but some of the most common are:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Angie’s List
  • OpenTable
  • Home Advisor
  • Glassdoor

How to Respond to Google Reviews

Coaxing your customers to leave a review is only part of the reviews and SEO process. Responding to reviews is just as important for your business, and as a matter of fact, Google highly encourages it. Simply thanking your customers for taking the time to give their feedback signals to Google that you’re doing everything you can to provide a great customer experience. Additionally, this gives your business a chance to use some of your keywords for SEO benefits.

While it’s okay to have a few standard responses to Google reviews, you don’t want the customer to feel like you sent them a cookie-cutter reply. Try to customize what you say whenever possible. Start with thanking the customer for leaving a positive review or sharing their experience, reassure them that your staff is dedicated to executing great customer service and end with showing appreciation for choosing to do business with your company.

Responding to a Negative Review

No matter how well you run your business, you will likely receive a bad review eventually. It’s important not to overreact in your response. This reflects poorly on your company and could unsettle the customer even more. Take your time to reply with a comment that highlights the bright side of the situation, shows you are apologetic and offers a solution. When you make the situation right with a customer, they will have a better impression of your business. We’ve actually seen some unhappy customers go back and leave a higher rating when the company offered a discount or resolved the issue.

Grow Your Google Reviews With Blue Compass

Let us do what we do best while you focus on managing your business and keeping customers happy. If you’re not sure how to get started with Google My Business or need help managing and replying to reviews, the Blue Compass team can help. We help businesses respond to Google reviews to boost their SEO value, which earns our clients more business. Reach out to learn more about our digital marketing services.