Congratulations, a customer left a review for you on Google! Let’s go see what they said.
What, two stars? No comments. Who is this person?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Businesses receive negative reviews all the time on Google, and not always from their customers.
In this article, we’ll explain why reviews are important and how you can protect your local business from being negatively impacted by a less than stellar review online.
Unfortunately, once you receive a negative review online, it’s almost impossible to get rid of. Google doesn’t get involved in deciding whether the person was actually a customer or even had any interaction with your business.
Have a look at this review a local cleaning company received.
They got a 3-star review for the quality of their food. The owner quickly responded appropriately saying “Sorry, we are a cleaning company”.
Google’s response to flagging this review as inappropriate and off-topic?
You guessed it, crickets…
If your business only has one or two reviews on Google, negative reviews can really hurt your profile.
Imagine you have two 5-star reviews on Google today. If you get a 1-star review on Google tomorrow, your rating will plummet from 5-stars to 3.7 overnight!
So, how can these negative reviews impact your business and customer behaviour?
Why are reviews important for local businesses?
Do negative reviews really matter that much?
Let’s look at some research.
According to MOZ, the foremost authority on Google outside Google itself, reviews are a major ranking factor for your local search rankings.
With 86 per cent of consumers reading reviews for local businesses, it’s important to have them, and Google tends to be the most popular place for people to read local business reviews.
The sweet spot for a star rating seems to be somewhere between 4 and 4.7, but the important thing is that you have enough reviews.
Customers like to see at least 5 reviews before believing a star rating. But more is better.
The good news is that once you have enough reviews, and assuming they’re good, customers are 68 per cent more likely to use your local business.
If you have less than 4 stars, 57 per cent of customers won’t consider using your business.
So, what should local businesses do to protect themselves from negative reviews and start capturing positive reviews? Let’s have a look at some strategies.
Protecting your local business from negative reviews
There are a number of strategies you can implement to build your online reputation and protect yourself from negative reviews. The key is asking.
If you don’t ask, most people simply won’t leave a review.
There are lots of ways to ask, it just depends on you and your business.
You can ask in person and hope the customer goes away and finds you online to leave a review. But most people let it slip their mind. That’s why most local businesses have less than 5 reviews.
If you have the time, try sending a text message or an email to your customers asking for their feedback. You can give them a link to your online profile to make it even easier.
Most local businesses we talk to simply don’t have time to manually email every customer, let alone follow up with them. And asking in person is a little awkward.
The easiest and most effective way to ask for reviews is to automate the review capture process. This means you’re not spending time and energy asking for reviews and you’re making it easy for people to leave feedback about their experience with your business.
When you’re consistently asking for and gathering positive reviews for your business, when that negative review comes in, you’re protected. Potential customers will see that negative review as an anomaly, and if you provide an appropriate response to that review, people will be quick to disregard it.
Matt Jackman is the director of Stay Digital Pty Ltd and specialises in delivering process improvement solutions and SEO services to local businesses.
Matt focuses on developing solutions for local businesses to improve their online reputation by creating custom automation processes to ensure the review capture process as seamless as possible.