For businesses competing in local markets, having a quality and high ranking Google Places page is vital.
One of the major ranking signals that Google uses for local related searches is the quality and number of reviews on your business’ Google Places page and other complementary review websites.
It is not always easy to get customers to leave reviews for your company, so you need to get a little creative to get these reviews!
What to do First
If you haven’t done it already, make sure you claim your company’s map listing at Google.com/places and fill it out 100%.
Google Places reviews show up as stars in the actual Places page, and in the search results page. In order to have the stars displayed in the Google search results, you must have at least 5 reviews on your Google Places page.
Keep in mind, if you don’t have a product or service worthy of a 4 or 5 star review – this may attract negative ratings and comments about your business.
If you’re not making your customers happy, then the reviews you are going to attract are going to be mostly negative!
How to get reviews on Google Places
Send a personal email to customers/clients that you have done business with in the past (preferably users with gmail accounts) and ask them to leave a review on your Google Places page or other local review website such as True Local, Hotfrog, Word of Mouth Online or Urban Spoon profile page.
This email should be personalised, and can be done as a follow up to an appointment or interaction you have had with a customer. Make sure they had a favourable experience as I have seen one business bulk email all of their patients after their appointments, and they ended up getting negative reviews from unhappy patients!
2. Links or clickable images on your site
This allows your customers who return to your site after dealing with your company the ability to write a review.
3. QR barcodes
Using barcodes to make the most of smart phone technology to drive visitors back to your review area. Here’s a free QR barcode generator you can use.
You can create these are cards, stickers, window decals, and even posters.
4. Review us section on your website
Creating a section on your website that links out to all of your directory listings and Google places page can be an effective way to encourage customers to leave reviews.
5. Call them
A simple personal phone call to a customer can be a very effective way to get a review. Nothing beats a personal touch.
6. Printed instructions
Works well if you interact with your customers in person or have a physical product that you ship. The challenging part is creating clear instructions for your customers to follow on how to leave a review on certain sites.
Remember, you are asking your customers to sign up to a Google account if they don’t already have one so that will need to be included in the instructions.
Google Places isn’t the only place to get reviews for your business. Make the most of your other review pages such as Truelocal, Word of Mouth Online, Urban Spoon and Yelp. These can help boost your local SEO rankings.
Things to remember
1. Visitors can tell if your reviews are from family or friends by the language that is used. People aren’t stupid!
2. Don’t pay customers to leave a review – if you get caught, your listing will be suspended
3. Negative reviews should be responded to in a helpful and polite manner. Do your best to try and address the issue and diffuse the situation – everyone can see how you handle the response. As long as you’re getting lots of positive ones (4-5 stars) then the occasional negative one isn’t a huge problem.