The reviews that customers write on the internet can greatly affect a business, even if it does not base its activity on online sales. Physical businesses are not exempt from submitting to the public and digital judgment of customers, who increasingly turn to the internet to express their opinions and to check the reputation of a business before consuming. Thus, according to a ReviewTrackers study, 63.6% of buyers consult reviews on Google before visiting a business.
Although Google – specifically, the Google My Business tab of the business – is the favorite place for users to consult reviews, there are other websites and directories, such as TripAdvisor or Foursquare, that also play an important role in building a reputation online of a company.
Having reviews (and good reviews) is one of the main factors for consumers to trust and go to a business. According to a Trustpilot report, positive feedback outweighs the purchase decision than speed of technical service or product quality.
The value of reviews on Google
According to the ReviewTrackers study cited above, 80% of users do not trust businesses with ratings below 4 stars (out of 5), and up to 94% have avoided a business after reading a bad review. Negative reviews are a bad thing to avoid, but with certain considerations.
Google takes into account the reviews when it comes to positioning a business in the search engine, but not only takes into account the quality of these, but also the quantity.
The number of reviews that a business has is an indicator for Google that it is popular and crowded, so having a negative review, among many positive ones, will not undermine the positioning, since the search engine interprets it as something natural.
In other words, although it is clear that a business needs a very good score to attract customers – or not scare them away – a negative review is not the end of the world: popular businesses will have more reviews and therefore more negative reviews as well, something that will always be better than having very few reviews and all positive.
How to manage reviews on Google
To gain the trust of users online, it is not only the number and quality of reviews that are important, but also how to manage them. Next, you can read a series of good practices:
Always answer. According to Google’s own data, companies that respond to reviews are considered 1.7 times more trustworthy than those that don’t. Responding to positive reviews by showing appreciation helps build loyalty. Addressing negative reviews with education shows empathy and interest in improving, as well as giving a clue to the potential customer that, if they have a problem, they will be treated well.
Do not delete reviews. Most platforms, including Google, only allow you to delete a review if it is proven to be false or if it violates their policies, usually, when the user reviews the wrong business, it is SPAM, false information is given or an insult is uttered. If Google considers it, it will remove it once it is marked as inappropriate, but do not be tempted to ‘report’ any bad review, because the system may notice and end up harming you.
Do not falsify reviews. It is one thing for you to ask a friend to leave you a positive review, and another for you to create dozens of fake accounts to improve your evaluation. If Google detects unnatural growth in reviews, your business will also suffer.
Encourage customers to leave reviews. You can do it personally or with a call to action on your website or by signing your email.
Check the reviews frequently. If you have a bad review and don’t return it until many days later, the dissatisfied customer may have already spoken badly about your business to their family and friends, increasing their negative reputation.