get google reviews

Optimize Your Google My Business Listing and Get Google Reviews

Learn how you can optimize your Google My Business listing, take advantage of all the great local business features, and get google reviews in this ultimate guide.
Reading Time: 25 minutes

When it comes to local, Google My Business needs no introduction. Google My Business is the primary digital marketing channel for local businesses (and trust us, Google reviews matter to local businesses).

There’s no dispute.

In fact, Mike Blumenthal of GatherUp was prescient when he said that

“Google is the new homepage.”

Local searches on Google have skyrocketed.

Research from Think with Google, shows a 900+ percent increase in mobile searches for  “___ near me today/tonight” (e.g., “five-star hotels near me tonight,” “open houses near me today”).

This trend continues to climb.

What does this mean for your business? It means Google My Business is an indispensable search, review and marketing tool your local business needs to grow.

Here’s what we’ll cover today:

Let’s get started.

What makes Google so important to your business?

This sounds like an obvious or silly question. It’s Google come on; almost every business depends on them in some way.

There’s more to it than that.

Research from Think with Google shows there’s more nuance to this question than many people believe. Here’s why Google My Business is so important to your local business.

  • A 500% increase in "near me" mobile searches that also have "can I buy" or "to buy" variants.
  • 150+% growth in mobile searches for "___ near me now" (e.g., "food near me now," "gas station near me now," and "delivery near me open now".)
  • 900+% growth in mobile searches for "___ near me today/tonight" (e.g., "five-star hotels near me tonight," "open houses near me today.")
  • 200+% growth in mobile searches for “Open” + “now” + “near me” (i.e., "restaurants near me open now,")
  • Search interest in "open now" has tripled in the past two years.
  • Search volume for local places, without the qualifier "near me," has grown by 150%.
  • 8.6% of searcher clicks go to featured snippets. Another 19.6% goes to the first organic search results.
  • Google My Business signals (proximity, categories, keyword in business title, etc.) are the most important ranking factor for local pack rankings (25.12 percent of the total).
  • 35% of product searches begin on Google.
  • 3 in 4 smartphone owners turn to search first to address their immediate needs.
  • 150% growth on mobile, travel-related searches for "tonight" and "today."
  • Mobile search queries related to "same-day shipping" have grown over 120% since 2015.

Here’s a chart to put things in perspective.

Statistic: Distribution of total and mobile organic search visits in the United States as of 3rd quarter 2019, by engine | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Okay, that’s search data, what about online reviews?

Most of the people on the planet rely on Google to find the information they’re looking for. As a result, Google’s user demographics and psychographics are incredibly broad. There’s a huge degree of variation across the board. 

Is there a comparison?

How other review platforms compare to Google My Business

According to Alexa, Google is the internet’s number one website. 

They’re king of the hill. 

Let’s see how SimilarWeb ranks their competitors (e.g., Yelp, Facebook and TripAdvisor) in the online review space.

GoogleYelpFacebookTripAdvisor
# of Reviews57.5% of all reviews177M795.3M795M
Global rank11613144
Total visits77.05B137.63M23.83B168.98M
Pages per visit8.457.5210.556.28
Bounce rate29.83%52.57%31.44%59.60%
Traffic sourceDirect (94.98%)Search (75.81%)Direct (80.17%)Search (78.32%)

Google is an embedded part of our daily life.

User adoption rates transcend country, culture, social and economic class lines. They have broad, mainstream appeal, which is exactly why your business should be on Google My Business.

Here’s the surprising part about this.

According to a BrandMuscle’s The State of Local Marketing Report 2019, 59% to 66% of brands have claimed their Google My Business listing. More brands are claiming their listings over time.

gmb listings claimed

But it’s happening slowly.

And even though it’s happening, most businesses aren’t taking the time to optimize their listings. Sure, they’re pursuing reviews, but that doesn’t mean they’re achieving the results they need. 

Where do you start?

How do you achieve real business growth – revenue, growth, conversions – from your Google My Business profile? Easily, but it all begins with goal setting.

Business goals for brands on Google My Business

As far as platforms go, Google My Business is pretty versatile. There are a significant amount of features. That isn’t the problem here though. The issue here is the fact that many small business owners aren’t sure how to use these features to grow their business.

Why does that happen?

These brands aren’t taught to look forward and reason backward. Doing this effectively begins with goal planning. Here are some goals your business can achieve using Google My Business.

  • Branding: This sounds like a waste of money. So, is it? Not at all. A strong brand means you're able to attract more leads, close more customers and make more money with little to no investment. Branding in this sense is akin to reputation, the acknowledgment that you stand for something good.
  • Online visits: Visits from your Google My Business profile to your website, landing page or social media profile. If you're looking to drive online conversions with these online visits, you'll need to ensure there's a significant amount of relevance from your offer to your destination.
  • Offline visits: Customer foot traffic direct from your Google My Business profile to your physical location. This could be customers stopping in for an impromptu lunch at your restaurant, or showing up at your hotel for their vacation stay.
  • Calls: With call tracking software, you can attribute calls generated by your Google My Business listing. Since a significant number of people actually place a call from their mobile phone directly from your GMB lists, calls are a key metric you will want to keep tabs on.
  • Bookings: It's customers reserving their seat(s) at your business. It's the promise of future business, and it's driven by a specific set of customers who are willing and able to buy. Successful bookings depend on three variables. (1.) Your ability to generate traffic to your site. (2.) A compelling or irresistible offer, product or service backed by social proof (i.e., strong reviews). (3.) Disqualifying customers who aren't a good fit for your business.
  • Leads: This isn't just customers' contact info. It's contact information from motivated prospects, people who are both willing and able to buy. Again, a common mistake brands make is assuming that contact information = leads. Experienced sellers realize the best offers disqualify garbage leads with no effort on their part.
  • Sales: Customer derived cash flow. You provide customers with the outcomes (results, experience, solution, delight, etc.) they're looking for in exchange for money. A strong review portfolio directly correlates to increased sales and revenue.

Which goal best fits your business?

For most brands, the answer is obvious. If you’re running a service business – traffic, bookings and leads are crucial. For local product businesses – branding, calls, online and offline foot traffic. The majority of businesses depend on sales of some kind.

A Google My Business account makes it easier to achieve these goals. Here’s how you claim/create, optimize and improve your Google My Business account.

Creating/claiming your Google My Business listing

Here’s a video from Google that will guide you through the process of creating or claiming your Google My Business listing.

As the video suggests, there are two ways to get started with Google My Business. 

1. Claim ownership of your business listing

2. Add your business listing 

Here’s how you add or claim your listing.

1. Search for your business in Google.

2. Look for the “are you the business owner link.” If you see this link, your listing is unclaimed.

3. If you don’t see this link, visit Google.com/Business and click the “Manage Now” button.

gmb manage now

4. Enter your business name in the search box. Click the “Add your business” link at the bottom of the page.

5. Next, enter the name of your business.

gmb name

6. Specific whether you’d like to add a location customers can visit.

gmb location

7. Enter your address.

gmb address

8. Enter any additional locations or addresses.

gmb outside location

9. Choose the category that best fits your business.

gmb category

10. Specify the contact details you’d like to show to your customers.

gmb show

11. Confirm and finish setting up your listing.

gmb finish

Here’s how you verify your business on Google.

You can verify your business listing via:

  • Postcard. Google will mail a postcard to the address listed in your Google My Business account. Your postcard will have a unique identifier code you enter, when prompted, to verify your listing. This method takes the longest amount of time.
  • Phone. This option isn't available for all businesses. However, if it's available, it's the fastest method you can use to verify your account.
  • Your Google search console account. Your Google search console account can be used to instantly verify your Google my business account. Just be sure to use the same credentials.
  • Bulk verification methods. This verification method is ideal for brands with multiple locations. Bulk verification takes place at the account level. Two types of Google My Business accounts can be bulk verified - (1.) individual user accounts, and (2.) Location groups.

(Here’s how you request bulk verification for 10+ locations.) 

Once you’re verified, you’ll have access to all of the features in your Google My Business account. Here’s a list of the features available to you.

Attributes

Attributes are descriptors or details that allow business owners to list the services, features or qualities of their business they’d like to see in relevant, location-specific queries. These attributes are visible on your business listing in Google’s search results and via Google Maps. 

There are two types of attributes:

1. Obvious attributes    

2. Hidden attributes

Here’s a list of obvious attributes.

Accessibility
Beach WheelchairsMobility Scooter RentalPassenger Loading Area
Wheelchair AccessibleWheelchair Accessible ElevatorWheelchair Accessible Entrance
Wheelchair Accessible ParkingWheelchair Accessible RestroomWheelchair Accessible Seating
Wheelchair Rental Offerings ( Motorized / Non-Motorized)
Activities
Bicycles for RentBoats for RentGame Room
Horseback RidingJogging Track IndoorsScuba Diving
SnorkelingWater Skiing
Amenities
Air ConditioningAirport ShuttleAll-InclusiveBaggage StorageBar Onsite
Beach AccessBicycle RackBooster Seats for ChildrenBusiness CenterCellular Service
Child CareConciergeConvenience Store OnsiteCurrency ExchangeDogs Allowed/Welcomes Dogs
Drive-ThroughFitness CenterFitting RoomFree BreakfastGift Wrapping
Golf CourseGood for Kids/Welcomes ChildrenHigh ChairsHot TubIn-Room Massages
In-Room SafeIroning ServiceLaundry ServiceLive TVMassage Services
MechanicMeeting RoomsNewspaper DeliveryParking Offerings (Free / Paid)Pets Welcome
Photocopying/Fax ServicePublic RestroomRestaurant OnsiteRestroomRoom Service
RV HookupSmoke-free PropertySolarium OnsiteSpa OnsiteSteam Bath
Stroller RentalSwimming Pool Offerings (Indoor / Outdoor)Tennis Court (Indoor / Outdoor)Unisex RestroomWake-Up Service
Wi-Fi (Free / Paid)
Crowd
AdultsOnly Adults
Lodging
Extended StayFamily Rooms
Dining options
BreakfastBrunchCateringCounter ServiceDelivery
DessertDinnerLunchOrder AheadOutside Food Allowed
Pay AheadSeatingTable ServiceTakeout
Highlights
3D MoviesActive Military DiscountsAll You Can DrinkBar GamesCabaret Onsite
Casino OnsiteDoctor OnsiteFamily-Led/Owned by FamilyFireplaceGreat Live Music/Notable Music Acts
Karaoke/Karaoke NightsLive MusicLive PerformancesNightclub OnsiteOutdoor Seating
Outdoor Standing Area to DrinkPersonal ShoppersPlay Area for KidsPool TablePrivate Beach
Private Dining RoomPrivate EventsRooftop SeatingServes Local SpecialtySports/Suitable for Watching Sports
Trivia NightVeteran-Led/Owned by VeteransWomen-Led/Owned by Women
Offerings
Activewear/Sells ActivewearAdult ClassesAfternoon TeaAlcohol/Serves AlcoholAll You Can Eat
Appraisals for ItemsAssembly ServiceAssisted Listening DevicesBaby ClothingBaby Furniture
Baby ShoesBatik ClothingBeer/Serves BeerBeginner ClassesBike Storage
BlowoutsBooksBraille MenuBrand-name GoodsBulk Food
Bulk GoodsBuys Used GoodsCar RentalCar WashCash Advance
Certified Kosher Food (Dairy / Meat / Pareve)Certified Pre-Owned VehiclesCheck CashingCoat CheckCocktails
CoffeeComfort FoodCraft BeerDancingDiesel Gas
Electronics RecyclingEthanol-Free GasExperience with Thick Curly HairExperience with Thick Straight HairExperience with Thin Curly Hair
Experience with Thin Straight HairFabric DyeingFood/Serves FoodFood at the BarFormal Wear
Free AirFree Water RefillsFull-Service GasFurniture/Sells FurnitureGait Analysis/Offers Gait Analysis Testing
Gift Shop OnsiteGluten-Free OptionsGo for Just Dessert/Acceptable to Just Order DessertGrilling/Allows GrillingGrilling Area Onsite
Hair ColoringHair PermsHalal FoodHappy HourHappy Hour Drinks
Happy Hour FoodHard CiderHard LiquorHelp DeskHot Tea
In-store PickupInstallation ServiceJain Vegetarian FoodJewelryKids Classes
Kids ClothingKids ConsignmentKids FurnitureKids HaircutsKids Menu
Kids ShoesKids ToursKids ToysKosher Food (Some Meals / Strictly Kosher)Late-night Food
LingerieLocal Ingredients/Serves Locally Sourced IngredientsMaternity ClothingMatineesMedical Imaging Services
Men's ClothingMen's ShoesNew GoodsNew VehiclesOil Change
OK to Just Order CoffeeOK to Just Order AlcoholOrganic DishesOrganic ProductsPaleo Food
Passport Photos OnsitePetite ClothingPlus-size ClothingPrepared FoodsReal Ale/Serves Real Ale
Recreational ClassesRepair ServicesSake/Serves SakeSalad BarSame-Day Delivery
Sarees/Sells SareesSauna OnsiteService GuaranteeShaveSing-Along Screenings
Sleepwear/Sells SleepwearSmall PlatesSpicy FoodSuits/Sells SuitsSunday Roast
Swimwear/Sells SwimwearTasting MenuTeen ClassesTeeth WhiteningTent Camping
Title LoansTours for Visually ImpairedTranscripts for Hearing ImpairedUsed GoodsVegetarian Options
Vegetarian Options Only/Only Serves VegetarianWedding ClothingWineWomen's ClothingWomen's Shoes
Offerings: language spoken
ArabicCantoneseDutchEnglishFilipino
FrenchGermanHindiIndonesianKorean
MandarinPortugueseSpanishVietnamese
Payments
Cash-OnlyChecks AcceptedCredit Cards Accepted (American Express / China Union Pay / Diners Club / Discover / JCB / MasterCard / Visa)Debit Cards Accepted
Meal CouponsNFC Mobile PaymentsTez Mobile Payments
Planning
Accepting New PatientsAccepts ReservationsLGBT FriendlyMembership RequiredOnline Events Calendar
Open Weather PermittingReservations RecommendedReservations RequiredTransgender Safespace
Treats AdultsTreats Children
Popular for
Good for Working on LaptopSuitable for Wedding
About this person (medical professionals)
Gender: Male / Female / Non-Binary

Here’s a list of hidden attributes.

Hidden attributes are the descriptors Google feels best applies to your business. Here’s a short compilation of the hidden attributes referenced by Google.

For Restaurants
Would you recommend this place for a vegan meal?Is this place historic?Is this place good for a quick bite?Does this place have fast service?Does this place serve ice cream?
Would you call this a romantic place?Is this a casual place?Is this a good place to bring young kids?Is this place popular with university students?Is this place popular with travelers?
Is this an upscale place?Would you call this a cozy place?Is this place good for dining alone?Does this place have good views?If you were looking for a vegetarian meal, would you choose this place?
Is there usually a wait here?Does this place have good dessert options?Would you consider this place inexpensive?Would you recommend this place for a gluten-free meal?Does this place attract a trendy crowd?
If you were looking for a healthy meal, would you choose this place?Is this one of the top places in the metro area for cocktails?
For Bars
Is there a dress code here?Does this place attract a trendy crowd?Did you visit this place for less than $10?
Does this place serve artisanal cocktails?Is this place good for dancing?
For hotels and lodging
Is this a lively place?Is this place historic?Is this place good for a weekend getaway?Is this a casual place?Is this an upscale place?
Is this place elegant?Does this place offer budget accommodations?Would you call this a romantic place?Would you call this a cozy place?Would you call this place quaint?
Is this place contemporary?Is this place chic?Is this a good place to bring young kids?

See the difference?

You’ll want to ensure that you choose each of the right attributes needed for your business. When you use the right attributes, you increase the likelihood that your business will appear in relevant local searches. Yet another helpful tool you can use to boost the traffic, leads, and sales your business receives.

Appointment bookings

If you’re a service business and you’re looking for appointments, appointment bookings are for you.

The booking feature of Google my business is something your customers can use to book appointments with you directly. What if you don’t have a website or booking app on your website? 

No worries!

Google has an extensive list of providers you can use to schedule appointments for your business. Here are the steps Google says you’ll need to take to choose a provider.

“To choose a Google My Business provider, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to Google My Business. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  2. From the menu, click Bookings.

Note: If you don’t see this tab, then bookings isn’t available for your business category or region.

  1. Choose and sign up with the provider of your choice.
  2. Within one week, your scheduling account is automatically linked to your Google My Business account. After you link your accounts, you can receive bookings through Google.

If you already use a scheduling provider, you’re automatically eligible to receive bookings. You’ll see your booking history with that provider for bookings made in Reserve with Google in your Google My Business account on the bookings tab.”

It’s that easy.

Messaging

Messaging is a feature you can use to chat with customers directly from your business listing. This gives you the chance to answer questions, defuse objections, share your story, request feedback and more. If you’d like to take advantage of this powerful tool, you’ll need to turn messaging on in your account.

What do you need to run it?

use google my business messaging

As of today, users are prompted to download the Google My Business apps to run the messaging feature. That’s ideal if you’re running a small business with a single location. 

What about agencies?

 According to Search Engine Land, agencies using the Google My Business agency dashboard won’t be able to access messaging via the Google My Business app. Any attempts to do so will produce an error.

It’s a powerful tool in the right hands.

Posts

Posts are similar to the status updates you see on Facebook or LinkedIn. They’re short, concise messages you can use to grab searcher attention. They’re like mini ads for your company, products or services. These posts come in four varieties. 

1. What’s new: These posts have a 1,500 character limit, which is pretty generous for an update. These posts are perfect for storytelling, testimonials, or long-form content.

2. Event: These posts are straightforward. They’re designed to promote events, whether you’re attending, hosting, a part of or supporting. They’re singularly focused and intended to be business-related.  

3. Offer: These posts are designed to create action. Use these posts to promote coupons, discounts, giveaways, sales or specials. These posts are delineated by a bright yellow tag on the right side of the post.

4. Product: This is actually a new feature as of December 2019. You can highlight your product with a picture, the price (fixed or a range), the category, and a description.

Grade.us Google My Business Post

Here’s the thing about posts.

They’re truncated on the first 100 characters or so visible on screen. The rest of the post is visible once users or followers decide to click on your post to read more. Your important words are the ones at the beginning of each post. Hashtags have zero value here.

In terms of delivering on your business goals, with Google My Business posts, you’re able to include a call-to-action (CTA), so you can better direct what your users do after they view your post. Current CTAs are as follows:

  • Book
  • Order online
  • Buy
  • Learn more
  • Sign up
  • Get offer
  • Call now
Google My Business Post CTAs

The long and short of it is this: Most of your competitors, most small businesses aren’t using posts consistently.

 In the right hands, this is an incredible advantage.

Products

Google recently added the product tab (which is in beta). Product tab enables you to show bestsellers, product collections (i.e., Ford trucks) and other product categories (i.e., trucks). It’s accessible via:

“The products (Beta) tab in your Google My Business dashboard. The Product Catalog isn’t currently displayed on Google Maps.” 

Google recommends that brands create three collections with five products each. As of today, products and product collections are visible on desktop and mobile. These product pages are great ways to drive customers to product and category pages on your website. 

Using products brands can: 

Google My Business Product Screen
  • Give customers a guided tour of the products and offers you have available
  • Upload product photos, name, price and description via the product editor
  • Manage products and product categories
  • Add featured products
  • Drive response with an appropriate call-to-action (e.g., order online, buy, learn more and get offer)
  • Keep product collections current (since they don't expire)

Both products and product collections have 58 character limit for the name and 1000 characters for the description.

Followers

This is exactly what it sounds like. Providing customers with the opportunity to stay in touch on a regular basis. Here’s how Google describes it.

“Customers can follow your business on Google Maps to stay updated on your offerings. This feature is available in most countries to anyone using the Google Maps app. Businesses can see their followers in the Google My Business app.

How it works

When customers find your business on Google Maps, they can choose to follow it. Once someone follows your business, they’ll get updates about your business in the “For you” tab in Maps.

To see your followers:

On your phone or tablet, open the My Business app.

At the bottom, tap Customers > Followers.”

follow google my business
why-follow on google my business
following google my business

Here’s why this is so amazing.

The followers feature amplifies the effectiveness of your Google my business account. One particular strategy brands can use is sharing welcome offers and discounts with new followers. Here’s how Google describes it:

“Starting today, businesses can reward customers who follow their business on Google with welcome offers, turning happy first-time customers into loyal, repeat ones.”

Source of gif: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-my-business-listings-can-offer-discounts-to-new-followers/313313/

This means users won’t see your welcome offer until they’ve decided to follow your business.

FAQs

According to Sherry Bonelli, Google My Business Questions & Answers are crowdsourced questions and answers for a local business that appear in the knowledge panel for a specific business. This feature is an often overlooked part of the GMB platform.

“One GMB feature often overlooked is the questions and answers (Q&A) feature. Just like Google My Business reviews, Q&As are essentially crowdsourced by people — real people (potential customers) who ask questions with the expectation the business will answer their questions.

However, many businesses are not aware this review feature even exists! So the questions often go unanswered by the business, or the questions are answered by everyday people who often give incorrect answers or less-than-helpful ones.”

Research shows, 25% of Google My Business listings and 90 percent of big box stores have questions. Several industries have a larger than average number of questions asked. Industries such as:

  • Casual restaurants
  • Car dealers
  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists
  • Employment agencies
  • Insurance agents
  • Self-storage companies

Even though Google has recently begun sending out notifications to listing owners, it’s still a good idea to check your listing manually from time to time. 

Here’s a detailed breakdown of Q&A for your business.

Here’s the wonderful thing about this feature. You’re able to create your own FAQ! You can ask and answer your own set of frequently asked questions. 

This is a fantastic way to:

It’s something most businesses aren’t using, and it’s definitely something you can use to amplify the power and effectiveness of both your Q&A and your review portfolio.

Cover photos and logos

You can set your preferred profile cover photo. The possibilities with this are endless. You can use your cover photos and logos as a powerful branding tool, use it as a promotion tool, gamify your audience and more.

High-quality photography creates a great first impression of your business. These photos expose bias, tell a story, answer objections, paint a picture (e.g., happy or disgruntled customers) or counteract negative reviews (e.g., stunning restaurant food photos, compelling before and after pictures).

Responding to reviews

Review signals have a significant impact on local search rankings. According to Moz, review signals make up another 6.47 to 15.44% of online reviews. Customer reviews provide your business (and Google) with the valuable feedback needed to make systematic improvements.

That’s not what your customers want, though.

What they really want from you is a response. Whether they post a positive or negative review they’re looking for acknowledgment. Is it really all that important for you to respond to your reviewers? 

Here’s what the data on review response expectations says.

  • 42% of customers expect a response to their review in 60 min or less
  • 57% of the customers above expect the same response times on nights and weekends!
  • 30% of local customers feel reading your response to reviews is key to judging your business

Desktop

Reply to reviews from Google My Business

1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.

2. Choose the listing to view:

For multiple listings: In the menu on the left, click Manage reviews. Then, use the drop-down menu to choose a location group. (This feature is not available for organization accounts.)

For a single listing: Open the one you’d like to manage. In the menu on the left, click Reviews.

3. Click Reply.

4. Write a response and click Post reply.

Reply to reviews from Google Maps

Access your business profile on Google Maps from your computer, and you’ll see the option to reply to reviews next to each individual review.

1. On your computer, go to Google Maps.

2. Enter your business name. Press Enter.

3. Next to the review you’d like to reply to, click Reply.

Reply to reviews from Google Search

1. On your computer, go to Google.

2. Search for your business name. Press Enter.

3. Click Reviews.

4. For the review you’d like to reply to, click Reply.

5. Write your response and click Submit.

You’ll be posting publicly as your business when you reply to reviews. Replies to reviews may not appear across Google immediately. Reviewers get a notification when you reply to their review. Then, they’ll have a chance to read your reply and edit their review.

Android

Reply to reviews from Google My Business

1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google My Business app.

2. Tap Customers  Reviews.

3. Tap the review to respond to.

4. Write a response and tap Send .

Reply to reviews from Google Maps

1. On your Android phone or tablet, open Google Maps or Google Search.

2. You can open your business profile two ways:

  • Enter your business name in the search bar.
  • In Google Maps: In the top left, tap Menu ‘Your Business Profile’.

3. Tap Reviews.

4. For the review you’d like to reply to, tap Reply.

  • Edit your reply: Tap More > Edit.
  • Delete your reply: Tap More > Delete.
  • Report an inappropriate review: Tap More > Report.

iPhone/iPad

Reply to reviews from Google My Business

1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Google My Business app.

2. In the “Reviews” section, tap Manage reviews.

3. Tap the review you want to reply to.

4. Write a response and tap Send .

You’ll be posting publicly as your business when you reply to reviews. Replies to reviews may not appear across Google immediately. Reviewers get a notification when you reply to their review. Then, they’ll have a chance to read your reply and edit their review. 

Not sure what to say?

Here are eight review response templates you can customize.

It’s a wise idea to rally other customers to your cause.

Optimizing your Google My Business listing

It’s important to optimize your Google My Business listing. It isn’t rocket science; it’s simply following best practices.

1. Give Google the information they want.

2. Seed your listing with the right information consistently

3. Perpetual review management and marketing

What are the fundamentals you need to optimize to boost your listing’s performance?

1. Give Google the information they want

Google wants you to provide them with as much information as possible. I realize this isn’t a pressing concern for many small, medium and local businesses, but it should be.

Why?

Because anyone can suggest a change or edit to your business listing – anyone includes your competitors.

gmb suggest

It’s a wise idea to provide your customers, and Google, with a consistent stream of data they can use. It’s a straightforward way to direct the narrative about your business.

 What does this mean?

  • You've provided complete NAP (name, address, phone) and citation data
  • Latitude and longitude coordinates so your pin data is accurate
  • Your customers have hours of operation
  • The data you've provided is always up-to-date
  • Your business uses high-quality images and content
  • You answer customer questions and objections clearly and completely
  • You request online reviews consistently
  • Present customers with compelling products, offers and events

2. Seed your listing with the right information consistently

This is easier than it sounds. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to build a powerful brand.

  • Value proposition. Your value proposition gives customers the answer to three questions: where am I, what can I do here and why should I do it?
  • Irresistible offer. Creating an irresistible offer is simple. Give customers what they want consistently. Do what your competitors can't or won't do for them. Simple isn't easy, but it's definitely worthwhile.
  • Authority signals. Why should customers listen to you? Have you been seen on TV? Featured in noteworthy publications? Received awards or accolades? Show customers why you're credible.
  • Social proof helps to reverse risk. It defuses objections and relieves the fear customers feel. It also eliminates buyer's remorse.
  • Search optimization. Build your profile around your conversion keywords. Not the keywords you think you should target. The keywords that drive traffic, build your email list and create revenue. How do you get those keywords? An easy way to do this is with paid search ads. Twenty to one hundred dollars of Google Ads will provide you with the conversion data you need to target the right keywords.
  • Remarketing. It brings warm and hot traffic back to your site. It segments your list, identifying the prospects who are interested, able and willing to buy. Remarketing is a helpful tool that allows you to push prospects off the fence.

These ingredients turn a mediocre Google My Business listing into a powerful and compelling one.

How to get Google reviews

As we’ve seen, your review portfolio (along with your GMB profile and citations) has a significant impact on your local search performance.

What does this mean then?

It means you need a consistent trickle of reviews, and you’ll need to request reviews from your customers regularly.  Not sure how to request reviews from your customers? Here’s a list of templates you can customize for your own needs.

A strong review portfolio and a consistent presence on Google My Business means you have an unfair advantage because most businesses aren’t doing it right.

With Grade.us, you can easily get Google reviews!

Simply send out email and SMS review requests to your customers leading them straight to your Google My Business listing so they can easily leave a review for you or your clients. Get started today with the Grade.us 14-day free trial today!

What about the rules and regulations regarding reviews?

Google’s rules are reasonable.

Here’s what they had to say regarding online reviews. First the list of Dos:

  • You can request reviews from customers through a short URL that’s specific to your business. To get reviews on Google, encourage your customers to spread the word about your business by following these best practices:
  • Remind your customers to leave reviews. Let them know that it’s quick and easy to leave business reviews on mobile devices or desktop computers. Learn how to leave Google reviews 
  • Reply to reviews to build your customers’ trust. Your customers will notice that your business values their input, and possibly leave more reviews in the future. You can also create and share a link that customers can click to leave a review. Learn how to read and reply to reviews
  • Verify your business, so your information is eligible to appear on Maps, Search, and other Google services. Only verified businesses can respond to reviews. Learn how to verify your business

Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. (For example, business owners shouldn’t offer incentives to customers in exchange for reviews.).

Next, the list of Don’ts:

Maps user-contributed content is most valuable when it is honest and unbiased. Examples of disallowed practices include, but are not limited to:

Impersonation

We don’t allow individuals to use Google Maps to mislead others. This applies to deceptive content as well as false representations.

Do not attribute your content to another individual, company or organization if you are not authorized to represent them.

Google reserves the right to remove content, suspend accounts, or pursue other legal action against contributors who falsely claim that they represent or are employed by Google.

 Conflicts of Interest

  • Reviewing your own business
  • Posting content about a current or former employment experience
  • Posting content about a competitor to manipulate their ratings

Spam and fake content

Your content should reflect your genuine experience at the location and should not be posted just to manipulate a place’s ratings. Don’t post fake content, don’t post the same content multiple times, and don’t post content for the same place from multiple accounts.

Review-Gating

Review-Gating is the process of using software to filter candidates before asking them to write a review. You ask customers if they had a positive or negative experience. If their experience is positive they’re sent to Google to write their review. If their experience is negative, they’re asked to leave private feedback, and they’re never given a chance to write a review publicly.

 Here’s what Google says on the matter:

Google Review Gating Policy

This all seems pretty easy, right?

If you’re interested in doing what’s best for your customers, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Tracking your goals and objectives with Google My Business

Your Google My Business profile has a problem. According to Greg Gifford, GMB has an attribution problem.

“We’ve seen cases where hundreds or even thousands of monthly GMB clicks are incorrectly attributed as “direct” in Google Analytics. 

Whenever someone clicks on your Google My Business link from a mobile device, it is likely the click will show as direct instead of organic. With mobile search continuing to grow, this is a problem that will not go away.”

The solution is simple and elegant.

?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=gmbwebsite 

Add that tracking parameter to the end of your website link(s) in your Google My Business dashboard, and you should be all set. You’ll need to do this consistently for your posts, website field, menu URL field and product listings as well if you want to be sure you get the credit.

It’s a simple modification.

?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=gmbpost

Check our Claire Carlile’s expert post on GMB and UTMs for your Google My Business Posts.

If you’re using Google Analytics and Search Console you can filter clicks, so your hard work receives the credit it deserves. Here’s what Joy Hawkins recommends if you’re working with tracking URLs.

  1. Use all lower-case letters since Google Analytics treats capital letters differently (tip from Dana DiTomaso)
  2. Keep the source as Google and the medium as organic to make sure it doesn’t make it look like you experienced a traffic drop when using some tools (such as the Panguin tool).
  3. Use the campaign field for naming the different fields in GMB.

This data won’t show up in Search Console, but it will show up in Analytics, so there’s still value there.

Google My Business Insights

According to Google: “Google My Business Insights focuses on how customers find your listing on Search and Maps, and what they do after they find it.” 

Using Google My Business Insights businesses can see:

  • How many views your listing had
  • How and where customers find your listings
  • The actions customers take on your listings
  • And other interactions customers have with your GMB listing

Here are Google’s instructions on accessing Insights for your business.

View Insights at a glance

1. On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.

(If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.)

2. In the menu on the left, click Home.

3. In the “Performance” section, you’ll find the number of views, searches, and activity for your listing.

Access Insights for individual listings

1. Sign in to Google My Business.

2. If you have multiple listings, open the listing you’d like to manage.

3. On the left menu, click Insights.

Important: The views displayed on your dashboard are for the past 28 days, so expect some fluctuation in stats. To get more information on your business’s visibility, go to the Insights tab.

Access Insights in bulk

You can bulk download Insights for multiple listings to a spreadsheet. Then you can view how different chain locations are performing on Google Search and Maps.

Insights are only available for verified listings.

1. Select the listings you want to download a bulk Insights report. 

2. Above the list of your locations, click Download Insights. In the screen that opens, next to the report you want, click Get report.

3. Select the time-frame for your Insights data, then in the bottom right corner of the screen, click Download.

4. Your report starts downloading automatically in a new tab. After your report finishes downloading, you can close the tab.

If you haven’t turned on your listing for download, you may see “***” in the columns of your bulk Insights spreadsheet. 

Google My Business point-of-contact

Joy Hawkins, founder of Sterling Sky, discussed the cat and mouse game that is contacting Google.

“Finding email and phone support options in 2019 has remained fairly challenging. They are fairly buried within the support center. The majority of Google My Business phone support is handled from India although you will sometimes get US employees in Ann Arbor, MI.  The direct link to contact phone support is back and can be found here (Note: Google has been known to test different things that make this link not work).  You can also call the Google Ads phone number (1-866-2Google) and select the option for Google My Business.  You will need to have a Google Ads account number to get to that option.”

She shares some details outlining how you can get a hold of customer support at Google.

This is why Google is so important to your business

A majority of the planet uses Google. As we’ve seen, They account for 57.5% of all reviews worldwide, across all review platforms. Online reviews are a significant part of local search, but there’s more. A strong review portfolio, accurate NAP, lots of citations and an optimized Google My Business account is the key to local search success.

 They’re number one for a reason.

Most businesses depend on sales of some kind. A Google My Business account makes it easier to achieve your sales goals. Look forward, reason backward. It’s the secret to a successful business. With an optimized Google My Business account, you’ll be fully integrated into Google’s platform. All the traffic leads and sales your business needs to grow.

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