I am often asked about whether Google My Business reviews will help improve the ranking of a business in Google’s local results. By local results, I am referring to the businesses that appear in a special box at the top of Google when you search for a brand, service business or a phrase containing a location name. For example:
You might want to earn for Google Reviews to improve your Google Local ranking, push down a bad review or improve the clickability of your local result.
Google ranks the results based on relevance, distance, and prominence. Using these characteristics, Google attempts to list businesses that will have what you are looking for. Prominence refers to how well known a business is. Exactly how these work together to order the rankings is a closely kept secret by Google, however, by experimentation and experience, effective strategies have been found. A common strategy is increasing the number of NAP (name, address and phone number) citations there are on different websites. The first three months of link building in most SEO campaigns that SearchMasters do, mostly contain directory listings that show NAP, so by building links often, you are building citations at the same time. The local and organic algorithm appears to share many ranking factors.
Whilst it is speculated that citations have a strong influence on rank, Google states that Google Review count and score also have an influence.
Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.
It is interesting that they use the word probably. It is difficult to test their impact on rankings because usually more reviews correlate with other improvements such as the organic ranking of the website. Darren Shaw published a 2017 survey on local result ranking factors which shows that Google Reviews is still minor but is agreed by the participants that it has a positive impact.
A strategy to earn Google Reviews needs to be a part of a wider SEO campaign to have a meaningful impact on search results, that said, how can you earn Google Reviews?
If you never ask, the chances are that you will only get negative reviews. Disgruntled customers tend to be the most motivated to leave reviews unless you prompt those who have had a good customer experience. It is much easier to direct customers to reviews if you create a direct link for them to do so. An easy way to do this is:
- Open a private browser window such as Chrome’s incognito mode
- Google your brand name so that your Google My Business listing appears on the right-hand side
- Click Review
- Copy the URL in the top bar
- Use Google’s URL shortener service to create a more readable link such as https://goo.gl/H6vQM3
The link could be added to an image in an email footer, website or newsletter. Many CRMs have the functionality to send scheduled emails after a customer has interacted with your business. You could request a review one week after you have sold a product or service to that customers. If you do not have a CRM, Mailchimp’s automation feature is a good alternative. The automation feature is a paid feature, but you use pay-as-you-go credits which is ideal for the low volume of email this strategy would need.
In conclusion, putting a strategy in place to earn reviews is a small but necessary way to get ahead of local competitors in terms of ranking and clickability. Creating a direct link to your Google My Business review section and including that link in online marketing material makes it easy for customers to leave reviews.