July 13, 2022

Google Reviews: Here’s How to Respond to Them

By: Mary Hiers

Google business reviews are an important element of off-page SEO. For one thing, they influence where your business profile shows up on local search results. And they can even cause your profile to take precedence over a geographically closer business in search results.

If you don’t have a Google Business Profile, you can’t manage your reviews. Therefore, if you haven’t claimed, verified, and completed your Google Business Profile, you need to do so before you can use the techniques we’ll discuss here.

Assuming you have a complete, accurate, and up-to-date Google Business Profile, here is why you should respond to Google Reviews, and how to do it for the best outcomes.

Why You Need Plenty of Reviews

Put simply, people trust a business more when they see that it has a large number of reviews. You probably tend this way yourself.

Suppose you see two similar businesses reviewed side by side. One has a 5-star rating, but it is only based on two reviews. The other has a 4.5-star rating, but it’s based on 500 reviews.

It only makes sense to trust the business with the most reviews, even if the star rating is slightly lower. A larger number of reviews indicates a larger cross-section of consumers has used it. 

Online reputation experts tell clients to amass as many Google Reviews as possible. And the best way to get more reviews is to simply ask for them. Getting into the habit of asking for reviews can take time, but it is a wise move.

The Importance of Responding to Google Reviews

Suppose you have hundreds of reviews, and so does your chief competitor. How can you set yourself apart from them? 

One technique that too few businesses take advantage of is responding to reviews. Yes, it can be a lot of work to respond to reviews, but it can have a tremendously positive effect on your business reputation.

When you respond to Google Reviews promptly and with the appropriate tone, it shows you are engaged with your customers. Dozens of unanswered reviews on your competitor’s profile can’t compare.

How to Respond to Google Reviews: Desktop & Mobile

First of all, responding promptly to Google Reviews is better than waiting. Happy customers love hearing back from you, and unhappy ones generally want you to acknowledge them. 

From your desktop environment:

  • Go to google.com/business to find your business profile.
  • Click on “Reviews.” You’ll be presented with a list of them.
  • Sort reviews to show those you haven’t replied to.
  • To respond to a review, click “Reply” to open a text box for your response.

On mobile:

  • Open Google Maps to get to your business profile.
  • Tap on “Customers.”
  • Select a review from the list.
  • Tap on “Respond Now” and write your response in the box.

How to Respond to Positive Google Reviews

Responding to positive reviews isn’t hard, since there is already goodwill on both sides. But resist the temptation to use a “canned” response. 

You don’t have to say a lot, but thank the reviewer by name for their kind words. Try to call out a specific aspect of the transaction if you remember it. 

For example, you could say, “Heather, we hope your new stand mixer brings you plenty of tasty enjoyment in the future!” Finally, sign off with your name and role in the business.

How to Respond to a Negative Google Review

Although you can’t have negative reviews taken down, you can mitigate their effects. First, try to evaluate the review as objectively as you can. Here are your next steps:

  • Speak with team members and see if anyone remembers interacting with the customer. If so, ask for their recollection of what happened. 
  • When you are ready to reply to the review, keep your tone professional. Ask questions if necessary to clarify the situation. 
  • Your reply should be empathetic, and if you know someone on your team made a mistake, own it. Your reply should work toward communicating with the customer one-to-one, either by email or phone. 
  • If you engage the reviewer one-on-one, empathize with them and offer a solution. Depending on the situation, you may want to provide a small incentive.
  • You could, for example, say, “Rodney, I hate that your meal was cold when it arrived. Would you like to come back and have the same meal, on the house? I would also like to offer you a free dessert to make up for your last experience here.”
  • Suppose Rodney returns and loves his hot meal and dessert. Maybe he apologizes for being harsh in the review. Now is your chance. 
  • Ask if he would consider updating his review, or leaving a new one. If so, you have not only made a customer happy but mitigated the effects of his negative review.

What About Google Reviews You Suspect Are Fake?

Google will remove reviews that violate its terms. Here’s what to do if you believe that a Google Review is fake, or if it clearly violates Google’s policies.

  • Open Google Maps or your Google Business page and locate the review in question.
  • Click or tap on the three vertical dots to the right of the reviewer’s name.
  • Choose the option to report the review.
  • You’ll see several choices for what you believe is wrong with the review. Pick one.
  • Click or tap on “Report.”

Google will evaluate the review and your feedback. They will then determine whether the review violates their policy and should be removed. 

The process can be slow, and there’s no set time frame for the removal of the review if they conclude that it violates their terms. This is unfortunate, but your professionalism in handling your reviews overall can help offset damage from a fake or otherwise egregious review.

Review Management Is Easier with the Right Tools

You’re probably wondering how you can solicit reviews and manage them all when they start flowing in. Fortunately, there are tools that can help.

Reputation management tools are designed to help businesses by delivering notifications when new reviews arrive. Tools also exist to help you stream positive reviews right to your website homepage. 

Even with powerful automation tools, managing reviews requires dedication. However, it pays off by helping you build a stellar reputation. Your prominence in search results is another positive effect of sound review management.

Reputation: A Priceless Business Asset

It is hard to put a price on your reputation. Reputations are hard-won, and they can be damaged quickly.

Responding to negative Google reviews demonstrates that you care about your customers and your reputation. And responding to positive and neutral feedback shows you’re interested in more than just “damage control.”

Managing your reputation by responding to Google Reviews is one of the best ways to solidify your great reputation. It’s hard work, but as a business owner, you are used to hard work!

We offer tools that make review and reputation management far more efficient. And if you like to show off your reviews, we have tools that can stream them right to your website. 

If you’re ready to take charge of your online reputation and make the most of your Google Reviews, schedule a call with us. Our team can show you how we make the process easier and more efficient.

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