How To Improve Google Reviews For Your Small Business – 5 Step Process

"91% of consumers will read a online review to determine whether a local business is good or bad ! Further more they found 84% of consumers would trust an online review as much as a personal reccomendation/referral."
how to improve google reviews

One of the most common asks or topics I have had from small business owners is how to improve Google Reviews. Reviews have become a very important step before customers choose to transact with your business, and for small local businesses there is no more important review than the ones located on your Google My Business Listing.

Table of Contents

Why Do Google Reviews Matter?

Firstly lets start with the why – why google reviews matter.

There was a great survey conducted by Brightlocal in 2018 which found that 91% of consumers will read a online review to determine whether a local business is good or bad !

Further more they found 84% of consumers would trust an online review as much as a personal reccomendation/referral. For those reasons alone it makes it very clear small businesses need a simple process to increase their reviews, so here is ours:

Step 1 – Update Your Google My Business Listing

This sounds simple, but before you focus on how to improve the volume of google reviews you have on your GMB Listing, its important that your listing is up-to-date with current information, address, opening hours etc. Your reviews are simply not going to have the impact if your other information looks out of date so an important first step so well worth investing a little time to get this all in order. I cover in great detail here a process to follow to make sure your Google My Business listing is as strong as possible – it’s well worth a read. 

Step 2 – Focus On Customer Experience & re-evaluate your customer interactions

TrustPilot produced a recent study around the importance of the customer experience on business success and they found a totally satisfied customer will contribute 2.6 times as much revenue as a somewhat satisfied customers and 14 times revenue as a dissatisfied customer! 

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Focussing on the customer experience is critical for all small businesses and to be customer centric you need to evaluate how you communicate with your customers from start to finish. For example if you are a small local plumbing business you might have a CRM linked to a SMS service (like WhatsApp for Business) that when customers book with you they are notified on the upcoming job. Then you might have invoicing software which automatically emails and sends followups on overdue invoices after job completion. 

Map your customer experience

You are going to want to map these all out so you can adjust your communications to be consistent and provide the best possible experience to your customers. The more they find the entire experience of communicating with your business to be outstanding, the greater chance of getting success with reviews.

Side Note – If you are looking for a solid resource on creating a customer experience journey for your small business then check out this post.

People buy from people not companies and its important you can build rapport throughout all customer touchpoints. The end result or product is of course important – but assuming your product is not that different to your competitors then the only way for you to differentiate is through the experience of dealing with the people in your business.

The other reason to go through all your customer interactions is because many businesses still ask for testimonials to put on their website. If you are asking for a testimonial however then this ask might conflict with the ask for Google Review. It might be a little controversial but these days I feel its a waste of effort to also ask for website testimonials.

The reason is Google Reviews have more authority as they have to be provided by someone with a Google Account so are verified. Its also very easy to have the Google Reviews pulled into your website so what you see on your Google My Business Page matches what is on your website. If you are not already doing this make sure to ask your agency or web developer.

Step 3 – Determine Best Timing To Ask For Google Reviews

Now that you have knowledge of all your customer interactions, you are going to want to consider timing. By that I mean you will want to understand generally when customers are most satisfied and likely to provide a review. Here is a general guide based on a few different small business types:

Local Services Businesses (plumbers, electricians etc):

Ask for the review when providing the invoice as the services will have been provided by then. Make sure this is included in the email you send from your invoice software like Xero.

Local Hospitality Businesses (Cafe/Restaurants/Bars):

Use a QR code to provide and have that printed out next to your cash til so customers can provide immediately after their meal/drinks. Offer an incentive like – go in draw for a free meal or drinks.

Small Professional Services: (Lawyers, Accountants etc):

Ask for the review at time of invoice also.

Small Online Retail Business:

If you are a small online retailer you are going to want to review standard delivery times of your products, and factor in changes due to COVID-19 with delivery time-frames. In general a window of 7-14 days after purchase is good. Leverage your Email Software to schedule this in

Determining timing of the Review

Further to above you are going to want to determine the best day of week and time of day to ask for the review. Personally I think a very safe time is early evening local time during the week – people are probably most relaxed and most available towards the evening during the week so more inclined to respond.

Step 4: How Do I Request A Review On Google 

Like timing, how you phrase your review request is absolutely critical to what success rate you will have. And if you are a business that has a high volume of transactions then this is going to make a big difference. For example if you are a plumber and have on average 10 jobs per week if you can increase your conversion rate of review requests from 10% to 20% – that could mean almost 50 more Google Reviews each year – pretty significant right !

How To Improve Google Reviews – Email Template

Here is a simple email template you can use and adjust for your small business:

Dear Customer,

Thanks we really appreciate your business and trust you were fully satisfied with the work we provided.

We would be very grateful if you could spare a few minutes and provide a 5 Star Review on our Google My Business Listing by clicking on this link here.

If for any reason you were not satisfied with the work provided please simply reply to this email so we can help further and make it right.

Kind Regards,

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Your Business

A few comments on above.

This works well because you provide the client a way out or option to not respond– you are not being too pushy, This is a simple way to filter out any possible negative reviews and have them email you rather than just post a bad review. You are also being clear on what you want satisifed customers to do – to create a 5 Star review. 

Where to find Request Google Review Link?

You also need to insert the link from your Google My Business Account review section in the above template where indicated to click here.

To do this follow this simple process.

– Enter your business name into Google while logged into your google account. If you are not sure if you are logged in, when on Google you will see your icon or initials in the top right.

log into google my business account

2 – After searching for your business name, You will see the below screen prompting you to edit your Google My Business Listing. Click on the “Share Review form” button in the bottom right.

how do i create a google review link

3 – After clicking that Share Review Form Buton its going to bring up a box, and you want to click on the link below “Click to copy link”. Use that link whenever you want to request a review. See below

click to copy google review link

Step 5: Follow Up With Review Request & Respond

We have all received review requests and ignored them or deleted them because you were too busy right? For that reason its so important that you followup a few times to ask for reviews. If you have someone taking care of admin or marketing in your small business you could have them manage a simple spreadsheet of all existing customers and whether they have posted a review.

I would advise they follow up minimum 2 but not more than 3 times for each customer and seperate the followups by 1 week for the first followup, then 2 weeks for the second followup. By doing this you will almost certain increase your likelihood of getting more reviews.

Do businesses get notified of Google Reviews?

The final part of this point is that in the event you do get a Google My Business Review, you or your admin/marketing person will be emailed from Google to notify you of the review and it will prompt you to followup and respond to the review. That email will come from the email address “[email protected]”. Simply search for that email address in your inbox to bring up these old emails. 

Below is what the email should look like:

do businesses get notified of google reviews

How can you reply to a Google Review?

In order to reply to the review what you need to do is click on the “Read Review” Button displayed in above.

This will then take you to the following screen allowing you to directly enter a reply to the review.

reply to google my business review

I think this is an important step to take also as it a) shows your personality, that you are customer centric (refer again to Step 2 above) and b) that you really genuine care about reviews. 

Remember that a future customer of yours who you might want to ask for a review, is also likely to have read your reviews first before choosing to buy from you. If they see you are genuine and really appreciate customer reviews they will be more likely to provide a review when you ask them down the line!

Reviews definitely breed more reviews as customers feel they are contributing to help others finding a trustworthy business that delivers on its promises. For that reason many business owners often find those first 5-10 reviews are the hardest to get, but many say it gets easier beyond that.

Final Words

I hope you found this article on how to improve Google reviews for your small business helpful. In this new world with COVID-19 we are living in where many small businesses are having to battle with different industry restrictions its even more important that they can attract as many customers as possible. I firmly believe Google Reviews is one of the best ways to achieve this outcome. With that – I hope you got some value from the above and ultimately can generate more reviews going forward!

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