Your Google Business Profile provides an opportunity for people searching for your products and services to find you. It’s not based on organic traffic or SEO but rather location, and it pops up on the search engine results page. SEO basics focus heavily on keywords, but other components help Google see value in your business, too.One core component of this profile is the list of reviews. Google encourages people to leave a review of the places they visit and the services they use, knowing that this is by far one of the most important factors consumers consider when choosing where to spend their money. In fact, 93% of people say that the online reviews they read have a big decision on their buying decision.
Reviews Seem Hard, Though
How do you get reviews? Should you just have your mom leave a few and perhaps your friends? The key here is to get authentic, accurate reviews. There are a few very valuable ways to get reviews – we’ve talked about lead generation tips related to them. However, whatever you do, do not encourage anyone to leave a review that’s fake.
Why Fake Reviews Hurt Your Listing
Google knows everything. Most people know that Google searches reveal lots of information about just about any topic. Yet, the search engine also has the ability to spot fake reviews.
It does this using a wide range of software, including machine learning technology, that allows the system to pick up on potential online review abuse. For example, a sudden increase in dozens of reviews for your business could be a clue that they’re not all real.
Once the software detects a suspicious increase in Google Business Profile reviews, a human can check it and see if it’s legitimate. If the reviews are not authentic, it adds no real value to a potential customer who is reading it.
Inauthentic reviews are a serious matter. In 2021, Google reported it removed more than 200 million photos and another 7 million videos, and either removed or blocked 115 reviews from its Google Maps (Google Business Profile) framework. Most of that was done by human review teams and automated systems. It also reported that this was a 20% increase from 2020.
Why Are Authentic Reviews Valuable to You as a Business?
Don’t cheat the system or even try to do so. It could lead to Google penalizing your profile and downgrading access to your website from searchers. But do work to get online reviews from customers and clients.
Businesses benefit tremendously from authentic online reviews in numerous ways:
- They Help New Customers Make Decisions. You have competition, and for the new customer, one of the only things encouraging them to reach out to you instead of a competitor could be the review they read about your business. Many consumers consider reviews more valuable than anything written on your business pages.
- Companies with Positive Reviews Get More Sales. Reviews impact sales. Good reviews lead to increased revenue. In nearly all situations, any effort you put towards increasing the number of reviews your customers leave is likely to come back to you many times over in the form of sales.
- It’s Social Proof Your New Brand Needs. If you’re just launching your brand, having authentic, clear reviews from your first customers helps you build social proof and ultimately encourages people to buy from you even if they haven’t heard of your company before.
- Reviews Increase Online Exposure and Local SEO. Google in particular uses reviews as a way to gain some insight into a company (the review quality, number of review, and diversity are all signals that show the search engine your reliability). This could give your business a bit of a boost.
- They Get People Talking. If someone leaves a bad review, you may think that it’s going to hurt your future. However, bad reviews often encourage others to share their opposing view, which can help you to expand the number of good reviews you have. More so, a few bad reviews (that you’ve handled professionally) help to make all of your reviews seem authentic. No business is perfect, and all people recognize that.
Another important reason to invest in reviews is to help your business change or even pivot. Reviews share small bits of information about the impression people have of your business. Use that information and make decisions about your company's offerings and transform the way the business operates.
For example, you may learn that customers who arrive to your retail location later in the day are often frustrated because there are fewer products for them to select. You may have thought sales were just slower during that time, but the reality is, there are limited items to buy. That could mean you adjust your production to ensure there’s more available for your late night customers. You could learn from reviews that your location is opening later than intended, a certain employee is far harder working and better with customers than another, or that your business is so well loved that a second location is a must.
What To Remember About Online Reviews
Your Google Business Profile is designed to provide clear information to help encourage people to visit your location. It needs to be accurate and reviews need to be authentic. Skip the fake or misleading reviews and embrace the process of encouraging more customers to leave reviews for your business. Doing so ultimately helps to build your brand and expand your reach.
Need help with your Google Business Profile and local SEO? Contact us today to start the conversation and get those clicks and leads you want!