Online reviews are incredibly valuable, and it’s possible to implement their analysis in unbeatable strategies. For many years, online reviews and SEO have gone hand in hand. Reviews are so valuable, in fact, that they contribute 10 percent to a Google display ad’s visibility. Even though every company is different, online review impact tends to be a bottom-line factor: We may not know the ins and outs of Google’s scoring criteria, but its Review summaries offer a pretty good glimpse.
Google Reviews: The Visibility Snapshot
What is it about Google Reviews that makes them so impactful, anyway?
Primarily, it’s their resourcefulness as instant-purchase drivers. Each day, Google-users browse products, often making decisions based upon Google Reviews. Not only are reviews great ranking factors, themselves, but they’re good indicators of unbiased value measurement. There are a couple of other things that make Google Reviews even more important. Let’s take a look.
Google Reviews are displayed on a local basis—which is similar to how other websites feature reviews. As such, Reviews is a great indicator of immediate public impact. If you happen to own a locally operated business, this value is incomparable. And, if you don’t, it still offers a decent look into your brand’s impact on a local level.
They’re Instantly Accessible
Unique to Google Reviews are their departure from typical entry barriers. Platforms like Zillow, TripAdvisor and Yelp require accounts to leave reviews. Some of their reviews are viewable publicly, but sign-ups are similarly required to view full spreads. Even when matching degrees of effectiveness in terms of accounts actually owned, Google still wins: Over 1.5 billion Internet-goers have Google accounts.
Google My Business
A Google My Business account gives owners the ability to create, manage, customize and even analyze the information displayed on business profiles. This is a unique way to examine one’s local search ranking, naturally, but it’s also a great way to determine Review relevancy. By and large, Google My Business tends to be inseparable from Google Reviews: Not only because analysis results between the two share the same DNA, but also because Google My Business offers an instant way to respond to customer reviews, themselves.
Key Metrics: Review Summaries
Google Review Summaries is Google’s direct review access point. We’re in luck, too, because approximately 70 percent of consumers leave business reviews if simply asked. The location of Google Review Summaries is instantly available in its own right, as it sits right next to Google Maps results. Customers are given the option to rate businesses on a one-to-five-point basis, and they’re also given the option to upload location, product and experience snapshots.
Understandably, making Google Review Summary analysis a habit is a good thing. Fact of the matter is: Consumers trust what other consumers say. Oddly enough, a majority of online shoppers consider reviews left by strangers are as reliable, or even more reliable, than personal recommendations. This is of great advantage to keen digital marketers, as it levels the playing field for unbiased reputation snapshots. In many cases, up to 84 percent of online shoppers value online reviews as much as reviews provided by their own friends.
Understanding your business’s Review Summaries is a great way to audit the results of its online presence. This said, doing so isn’t necessarily as easy as guiding customers to your brand’s Google Reviews spot, itself. To audit your Google Reviews, you’ll need to keep a couple of tips in mind. With the tips below, you’ll glean greater insights into your business’s highlights.
Tip One: Start with Google My Business
Your Google presence, at large, can be analyzed through its Google My Business profile. Firstly, take a look at your Google My Business’s aggregate star rating. A great utility to use is Grade.us, and you should approach your audits on a response protocol basis. This includes responses to positive and negative reviews alike—so be sure to take note of each metric separately, as well as together.
Tip Two: Segment by Traffic
Regardless of the tool used, you’ll want to further divide your analysis based upon your traffic sources. For example: Google Maps traffic tends to be unique from traffic gained via Google search results. By analyzing these separately, you’ll get a clearer picture of your ‘Google situation’ as a whole. More importantly, you’ll also get an assessment which is relevant: As Google Maps traffic, in particular, can be linked with review dates.
Tip Three: Keep Time in Mind
Speaking of review dates, it’s wise to weed out extraneous values. Try to focus on reviews received within the last three months. Doing so will keep your approach to Google Review Summaries fresh, of course, but it’ll also keep your analysis strategy useful in general: Online shoppers devalue Google reviews older than three months.
Tip Four: Ask the Right Questions
Much like reviews themselves, the metrics you’re actually using should be audited. Once you’ve acquired your data, you should first compare your brand’s Google profile with those of your competitors. Some great questions to begin with are:
- How recent are your competitor’s reviews?
- How often are they reviewed?
- How often do they respond to reviews?
Take stock of where your own business exists within these metrics, and use the information to achieve new results while you’re moving forward.
Tip Five: Make a Plan
Because customers value other customer responses the most—selecting recent reviews, specifically—the best way to garner clear insights is to enable a consistent environment. As such, try to make a plan wherein your business requests Google reviews. If you make the review process as simple as possible, you’ll reap all of the reputation, ranking and revenue insights available.
Implementing Review Summary Results
The benefits of maintaining top ratings on Google My Business are undeniable, but you’ll need to implement strategies capable of earning them. Google Reviews has grown a lot since 2007, becoming practically inseparable from Google Maps. With over 50,000 US-based businesses stating they actively grow their Google Review counts, it’s understandable why some years have seen over 270-percent conversion rate increases in such businesses.
Let’s cover the principles of implementing your Review results.
Principle One: Sheer Numbers Aren’t Enough
In most cases, more reviews means better search ranking. When it comes to Google, however, the SEO impacts aren’t as simple. In fact, studies conducted over the years have found that more reviews can paradoxically mean lower search result rankings. But why so?
It’s speculated that this is due to increases in anonymous user reviews. Even though shoppers value the opinions of other shoppers greatly, anonymous reviews, it seems, eventually become unfavorable. To gain a spot among Google’s ‘top three,’ you’ll still need nearly 500 percent more reviews than your competitors. This might seem like a daunting mix to balance, of course, but it’s definitely manageable if you focus on local search results.
Principle Two: Asking for Reviews is Key
Customers will leave reviews regardless of being urged, but urging them remains a vital action. Of major note, here, is that customers must be signed into their Google accounts before they’re able to leave reviews. If they aren’t, they’ll be told to log in whenever they click the Review Summaries tab.
This tends to be the biggest entry barrier, when it comes to streamlining the customer’s pathway to reviews. To open the door for them, try to inform them of the review process, up front. This can be done simply, fortunately, by directing them to click on your business page’s ‘reviews,’ link followed by the ‘write a review’ link on the next page.
Principle Three: Take a Mobile-First Mindset
Because the process of leaving reviews exists as the primary barrier, focusing on mobile-based Google Review Summaries is paramount. Specifically, make the Google Maps mobile app your target. Once customers are checking out your brand’s Google My Business Listing, they’ll be in range of your brand’s ‘Rate and Review’ button.
Mobile-bound Google Review Summaries are also vital to the multimedia factor, as customers leaving reviews from their devices already have digital cameras in their hands.
Long-Term Growth: Reputation Management
Over time, a well-managed Google Review Summary strategy is a powerful SEO tool. Regardless of your brand’s current impact through local search, Reviews are able to surpass regular imbalances that fledgling businesses face. To make the most out of your Review strategy, check out your brand’s online standing in general. By taking a closer look at your cross-channel strategy, email campaign and social media content, it’s much easier to identify the directions of traffic fueling your Google Reviews in general.
Google Reviews compound a brand’s digital impact results more than other online marketing utilities, making the platform unbeatable regardless of a business’s size. To create a stronger digital presence, and to stay fresh in the minds of your customers, approaching their responses, first, is always the way to go.
Header Image Credits: Photo by IP Ltd