As a business owner, you know that Customer Reviews, especially those associated with off-site profiles like Google are important. They can help or hurt your business, depending on how you respond to them. In this blog post, we will discuss the best ways to reply to Google Reviews. We will cover what to do if you receive a positive review, the all dreaded negative review, and neutral reviews.
Why is responding to a customer review important?
Google Reviews are one of the first things potential customers will see when they Google your business. If you have all positive reviews, they will be more likely to use your business. On the other hand, if you have all negative reviews, they will be less likely to use your business. Responding to reviews shows that you care about what your customers think and that you’re paying attention to your business’s most important asset (the clients)!
Google Reviews and Reputation Management
Managing your reviews is a keystone in Reputation Management. Google Reviews help potential customers understand what they can expect from your business. If you have a lot of positive reviews, potential customers will know that you’re providing a good product or service. On the other hand, if you have a lot of negative reviews, potential customers will know to avoid your business.
Now a negative review is not the end-all/be-all of your business. The average web user seems capable of discerning a true issue from BS (ie: they dropped a tree on my house VS their crew didn’t have matching shirts).
That being said, the same rule applies to all reviews… you must respond! That’s how you manage your reputation.
Do Google Reviews help your SEO?
Google Reviews are a Google My Business ranking factor, which means they can help improve your SEO. The more reviews you have, and the higher the rating, the better! Google also takes into account the recency of your reviews, so it’s important to keep up with them. This ties into off-page Seo which is anything done outside of your website to improve its ranking. I’ve written more about the types of SEO including the differences between on-page and off-page SEO in this article, The 7 Most Important Parts of SEO You Need to Get Right
How often should you respond to Google Reviews?
You should try to reply to all of your Google reviews, both positive and negative. Responding shows that you’re paying attention and that you care about your customers. Google recommends responding to reviews as soon as possible and definitely within a few days.
Responding to a Positive Review
If you receive a positive review, you should thank the customer for their feedback. You can also mention something specific that you enjoyed about working with the client and emphasize what they mentioned loving about their experience with you.
Remember: your response is not meant for the ‘reviewer’ necessarily, it’s meant more for all the prospective clients who will read it in the future.
Here are some tips on how to respond to a Positive Review:
- Use the client’s ‘handle’ vs their name (unless they ‘signed’ the review with their name). EX: if the reviewer’s handle is something abstract like SpdRunner19, you would address the response to ‘SpdRunner19’ but if they signed the review ‘Samantha’, then you would address your reply to Samantha
- Mention some specifics about your core service offerings and/or reiterate a service the reviewer mentioned in their comments
- Your reply is a great place to add a teaser of upcoming offers/specials/events that might benefit the reviewer or future clients.
- Type out your response in a separate document first so you can add appropriate line breaks and double-check grammar.
- Include a URL in your signature. This could be your homepage, a service page, or maybe a page with a special offer or lead capturing mechanism.
Thank you SpdRunner19 for the lovely review!
It means the world to me when long-time clients see such amazing progress… that’s why I offer stuttering speech therapy in a variety of ways including virtually for individuals and groups as well as in-person group sessions!
In fact, I will be offering in-person intensives (focused on specific themes) in the upcoming months so stay tuned for those!
Your Name, SLP
Responding to Neutral Google Reviews
You would respond to a neutral review in much the same way as a positive review assuming the star rating is 5 stars but the comments are simply lackluster.
If the star rating is under 3- or4- stars, take a minute to really think about this client and why they may have opted not to leave a 5-star review. Was there something to their experience that was indeed lackluster (perhaps they even mentioned their ‘why’ in the review)?
If you can identify that issue, you don’t have to spell it out (even if they did) in your response but you can take the conversation offline.
Thank you SpdRunner19 for your review! Reviews are the lifeblood of every business and I appreciate your taking the time to share your review with us.
I would love to touch base with you to get a little more feedback about your experience and will be reaching out via email to touch base soon.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll take the time to check out this free resource I created to help clients with some at-home speech therapy exercises: www.mybusiness.com/freeresource
Talk to you soon,
Your Name, SLP
The important part here is to actually follow up with the client offline. See what the issue was, address it, and if all is amicable, ask them to update their review (which they can do by navigating to their Google Contributions here). If a resolution was not reached, then don’t poke the bear and let the original review stay as-is.
Responding to Negative Google Reviews
This is where Google’s response guidelines get a little more strict and they recommend you take the conversation offline as soon as possible.
You’ll want to begin your response by again, thanking the reviewer for their feedback. You can then segue into how you would like to touch base with them via phone or email to discuss their experience.
I’ve written at length about the best way to handle a Negative Google Review here but here are the basic steps:
- Get more reviews
- Report the negative review here (if it’s fraudulent)
- Reply and take the conversation offline.
Here’s the rub on #2… I’ve only heard of 2 reviews ever coming down from Google and neither instance was in the last 5 years. We just can’t rely on Google to take down a bad review. This is why ‘Get more reviews’ is #1.
The trick with asking for more reviews is that when Google sees a sudden spike in the number of reviews being left for a business, it’s going to start blocking them as a precaution to prevent fraudulent reviews. As with all things SEO and Google, the best strategy here is to be consistent and diligent.
A great time to ask a client for a review is when you’re offboarding their project or have had major success for/with them. If you’re just starting out with Reputation Management (part of off-page SEO), and have a backlog of clients you can ask for reviews, but don’t ask for more than 3-5 clients per week. Less if you think they’ll all actually leave a review. What we’re aiming for is 1-2 new reviews per week to push neutral and bad reviews.
Be sure to check out ‘How to respond to negative Google reviews: A Complete Guide‘ for a more in-depth look at how to specifically reply to bad google reviews.
The best way to respond to any online review, especially with Google is:
– Thank the reviewer for their feedback
– Take the conversation offline
– Get more reviews
By following these steps, you’ll be able to effectively manage your online reputation and ensure potential clients are seeing the best possible version of your business.
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