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Customer reviews have always been important for your Google My Business profile. Back in the day, like two years ago, getting 5 good reviews “put you on the map”. This was the message SEO agencies were sending out to everyone.
“Just get 5 good reviews and it’ll make a huge difference.” Now, the new motto is “the more the better!”
Google’s Countermeasure to False Reviews
Because they’re so important, people have been “gaming” reviews since they first arrived. As people find new ways to manipulate the system, Google steps in and launches countermeasures.
In some cases, (the worst case for some), the search engine giant will identify reviews as “spammy” and quickly delete them. This, even if they’re not spam.
Recently, we have either become victims of the hot blade of the Google “spam-guessing-sword”, or we know someone who has. The worst part about the review slash and burn is that Google claims they don’t keep the reviews. So once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.
While this claim remains questionable, the validity doesn’t matter. If Google says that the reviews are gone, they don’t intend to reinstate them.
The most bothersome part of this fact is that there is no process for appealing deleted reviews. The “why” of this reality remains unclear, but Google must have their reasons. Right?
The Most Effective Strategies for Sticky Google Reviews
So, here are my suggestions for getting Google reviews to stick and stay.
When you ask your client to review your business, do not offer incentives.
This should be common knowledge, because it’s against Google’s Terms Of Service (TOS). There have been incidents regarding incentivized reviews.
Points to keep in mind:
- Incentivization could be anything from paying the client money to offering them free services.
You never know when someone you incentivized is going to change their mind and rat you out. If that happens, Google may use their flaming sword and vaporize every review you have.
- Your client should have a “seasoned” account. This means that the Gmail account:
- Should be at least 6 months old
- Should be used regularly over the course of that 6 months
- Should have left other reviews for other businesses
Do not use 3rd party systems to get or manage reviews.
- Wait until the bugs get worked out between these 3rd parties and Google
- Do everything manually until then
Never auto populate the stars feature when you’re asking for a review
Don’t use extra unnecessary text in your business name on Google My Business.
- This draws negative attention from the Eye of Google
- If Google discovers extra text, your reviews may be removed, including the real ones
- I can’t believe I actually still have to say this
As a side note, if you can get your client to leave you a review for your website, make sure the review is different from what they left on Google. It just looks more legit if you have two different reviews with different text. (Google can, and does, recognize duplicate content.)
The longer the review on Google, the better. Google Local Guides do get extra points for longer reviews. However, there aren’t a whole lot of us Guides.
Now, I’m not saying that longer reviews carry more weight. But, that’s only because, to be frank, I can’t prove it.
What I can say is that we Guides do get rewarded extra points for longer reviews. So I have to think that maybe there is a little point system that Google uses.
I say this because, when you look at how the math of reviews works, everything is black and white. Honestly, though, I have no idea how the point system would work.
For those of you who have negative reviews and want to see what it would take to get your rating up, here is a great tool I found.
Speaking of Negative Reviews…
People really stress about bad ratings, but let’s look at the big picture. When you look at a product on Amazon, or search for a service provider, what aspects of their reviews do you look at first?
If you said “the negatives,” you’d be right. This is a pretty universal behavior for most people.
The fact is, humans want to see if we can deal with the negative aspects of a business. We all know you can’t make everyone happy all the time. So, I think most people take negative reviews with a grain of salt.
That being said, when there’s an overwhelming number of negative reviews, they really start to affect you. If your overall star value is a 2, but your competitor has a 4, it’s likely that customers will go to the 4-star rated business first.
Ah, but there’s more to this story. If 4 is 10 miles farther away, some will want to choose the 2 and that’s when your responses can be helpful.
So if you’ve been struggling with bad reviews because of a bad run of luck and you’re trying to recover, people can be very forgiving. The best course of action is to be apologetic, professional and offer them a personal phone call.
You want to do this in public, in response to the review. And you should even do this if the review is 2 years old!
You do not want to give a litany of excuses but. Rather, you should be giving apologies and telling them that you like to make it right.
My point here is, don’t stress about the negative reviews. They aren’t necessarily negative. More importantly, it’s how you handle them that will set you apart.
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