When consumers need to locate a new business, product, or service, they typically turn to Google. What they find there often determines how and where they spend their hard-earned money. The implication for businesses is that maintaining a robust search engine presence is critical—but it’s not just Google visibility that matters. It’s also important that your brand be portrayed as positively as possible to potential customers and clients. Specifically, it means maintaining a high Google star rating if at all possible.
Imagine a scenario: Adam is looking for a reputable plumber to assist him with a clogged up sink. He does a quick Google search for local plumbers, and two entries pop up—both located close to where he lives. Adam can instantly see from the Google search display that the first plumbing company has a perfect 5-star score; the second company, meanwhile, has just two stars. Which do you think Adam is most likely to pick—and which do you think will lose out on a new lead, due solely to its low consumer rating?
This isn’t just a flight of fancy; reviews matter, and they inform consumer decisions every day, impacting the bottom line of local businesses in the process. That’s what makes it so necessary for business owners to stay on top of their Google star rating to the best of their ability.
Changes to the Google Star Algorithm
Recently, Google has made some changes to its star rating system that are worth noting here.
The big change has to do with the review threshold. It used to be that a business had to have a total of five consumer-submitted reviews before Google would display a star rating. Thus, if a single customer becomes disgruntled and leaves you a one-star rating, it’s not the end of the world.
Only now, Google isn’t requiring all businesses to meet the same threshold—and in fact, some businesses are already receiving their star ratings based on a single review. This makes each review that much more powerful, and that much more influential to a company’s online reputation. More than ever, businesses need to concern themselves with every review they get, and to take proactive measures to maintain positive Google star ratings.
Google’s Ratings at a Glance
For anyone who might not know, Google allows consumers to rate local companies on a one-to-five-star scale—with one being poor performance and five being excellent. All the consumer reviews submitted are then averaged out, which produces the overall Google star rating.
The star rating shows up beside the business name on the Google search results page, alongside other important information—address, phone number, and hours of operation, for instance. It’s one of the first things a search engine user sees with regard to your business, and as such it sets the first impression.
Business owners cannot delete star ratings that they dislike, but there are steps they can take to improve their star ratings—and those steps have never been more critical than they are now.
Taking Charge of Your Google Star Rating
Here are some tips for businesses looking to be more proactive in safeguarding their Google scores.
Ask Your Customers for Reviews
Your customers probably know how important online reviews are; in fact, they may have consulted online reviews before choosing to do business with you! As such, you probably don’t have to explain to them how Google stars work or why they matter, but you can and should ask satisfied customers to provide you with feedback.
There are different ways to do this. If you have a close rapport with a happy customer, consider asking directly, and in-person if possible. In lieu of that, you might consider including an invitation to provide feedback on your email invoices and receipts.
Contact Your A-List Clients
We also recommend embarking on a campaign to touch base with your very best, most loyal customers—the ones who have been doing repeat business with you for a long time, and are most likely to be enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Send a personalized email to each of these people and explain how meaningful it would be to receive a quick word of feedback from them. Be sure to send them a link so they can access your Google profile quickly.
Make Your Google Review Link More Visible
Don’t make your customers work hard to leave you reviews; instead, make the link to your Google profile easily accessible. Include it on your website, on social media sites, even within your email signature!
What About Bad Reviews?
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to stop people from leaving you bad reviews. There are ways to minimize bad reviews, though, and the first and foremost one is emphasizing customer service. Deal with your customers kindly and fairly. Don’t give them any reason to leave bad reviews.
Should an unhappy customer leave you a poor rating, though, view it as an opportunity to really put your customer service skills on display. Don’t get defensive, and don’t argue. Rather, respond to the review by being truly apologetic, and ask if there is anything you can do to make things right.
Ultimately, you may very well run into the kind of customer who just likes to complain, and with whom it is hard to reason. If that happens, there’s really nothing that can be done, save to double down on getting those positive reviews, to balance out the negative one.
Mind Those Google Stars
Getting a lot of Google ratings is great for SEO—and making them positive ratings can only enhance your brand’s online reputation. Those are both worthy pursuits, then—and they fit well in any integrated marketing approach.
Learn more about putting your best foot forward on Google; contact the enCOMPASS team today.
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