Asking your customers for reviews on Google is a great strategy for building your local search results and positively managing your reputation online. However, Google has safeguards in place to discourage fraudulent or spammy reviews, and you don’t want to run afoul of their guidelines which can end up costing you. You reviews might be removed from Google, and your “bad reputation” might have a negative impact on your local search rank.
Here are some methods of getting legitimate reviews from your customers without violating Google’s policies:
3 Strategies to Avoid!
1. Never solicit reviews.
Google looks very unkindly upon offering something in return for reviews, so be careful not to offer money, products, or services in exchange for reviews.
2. Don’t ask for reviews from your location.
It is tempting to simply provide instructions and an incentive for your customers to review your business at the time of service. However, Google will notice a patterns of reviews coming from the same IP address, and then mark those as suspicious.
3. Avoid asking ALL of your customers at the same time.
If a number of reviews are posted during one big “push” where none had been posted before, it looks orchestrated. Again, many of those new reviews risk being marked as suspicious and may end up getting removed.
3 Strategies to Try Instead
1. Create a segmented list of potential reviewers
Let’s start with #3 above. Instead of asking all of your customers for reviews at the same time, segment your email or customer list and ask for reviews in smaller pushes.This also allows you to find ways to personalize the request. For instance, identify everyone who received the same type of service or bought the same type of product, and then contact them about that specific transaction. This can happen via email or via personal phone calls. Additionally, this strategy can be incorporated into your overall Customer Service plan for retaining customers.
2. Make requesting reviews part of your “routine”
Incorporate ways to ask for reviews consistently and automatically into your existing business routines:
- Add “Review Us on Google” or “Tell Us How We’re Doing” links to invoices.
- Send a check-in email 2 or 3 days after every new purchase
- Set up automated messages at specific time ranges checking in with customers – 3 months after they became a customer, 6 months, a year, etc. Ask them how they’re doing, if there is anything your business can do to help them… and ask for a review.
3. Provide Exceptional Service
This may seem obvious, and maybe it should be up at the top of this article, but it is worth stating explicitly: good service generates good reviews. Even more importantly: great service generates more reviews! You want your customers so happy that they can’t wait to tell everyone about your company.
The opposite is also true: if you provide bad service, no amount of strategies can help you get good reviews online. Now more than ever – when a majority of people research online before making a purchase (81% according to Retailing Today), deciding to do business with a company (94% of B2B buyers according to the Acquity Group), or finding a local business (85% of consumers according to Search Engine Land) – businesses can’t get away with providing bad service! Give customers something good to say about you, instead of something bad to share.