According to Search Engine Land, 88 percent of consumers consider online reviews to be just as valuable as personal recommendations. While many business owners don’t particularly like the fact that they no longer have nearly the same degree of control over their brand images as they once did, customer reviews can undoubtedly provide valuable feedback.
Google Maps is one of the most popular mobile apps of all, and many smartphone users rely on it heavily for finding local businesses. Accompanying listings both in the search engine results and on Google Maps are ratings and reviews for local businesses. These reviews are among the most visible of all, having a major impact on your search engine visibility and brand reputation. As such, you’re going to need to deal with bad reviews promptly and responsibly.
Before you can respond to reviews left on Google, you’ll need to add and verify your business. There’s a good chance that your business is already listed in which case, you’ll want to claim the existing listing. Remember that people can leave reviews regardless of whether you claim your listing or not. Every local business should be listed on Google My Business since it will allow you to appear in Google Maps and other services while also granting you the ability to respond to reviews.
Identifying Fake Reviews
While you should never try to remove negative reviews if all they do is provide some constructive criticism, it’s important to remember that many review systems can be easily manipulated. For example, an unscrupulous competitor may leave fake reviews on Google to deliberately hurt your search engine rankings and your reputation. Fake reviews are, of course, against Google’s terms of service, and you have every right to report them and have them taken down. It can be very hard to identify fake reviews, but here are some common signs to look out for:
– Reviews that seem to exist only to recommend another product
– Product reviews dating from before the product was even available
– Reviews that don’t make any reference to the product, business or service
– Excessive use of first person pronouns to appear more credible
If you spot a review that violates Google’s review policies, be sure to flag it immediately. It may take several days for Google to assess the review, after which they will remove it, provided it includes content that goes against the rules.
Responding to Constructive Criticism
When it comes to negative feedback, studies have shown that customers tend to put more weight into the business’s response rather than the review itself. Customers hate to be ignored, especially if they are disappointed by a purchase. By responding promptly to reviews, particularly negative ones, you’ll be in a better position to build a relationship with the customer and hopefully resolve the issue.
It’s often easy to take negative reviews personally, but it’s essential for the sake of your reputation that you react professionally and don’t get too defensive, even if you feel that the feedback is unreasonable. You should ideally start your response by thanking the customer for leaving a review before attempting to address the issue they had. Also, remember that your reviewers are existing customers, so you shouldn’t use the opportunity to try to sell them something.
Of course, there will be the occasional customer who’s impossible to please, but you should always attempt to address their complaints. If you can resolve their issue, there’s a good chance they’ll even change their review. If that doesn’t work, you may want to try winning over other readers by taking a more humorous approach, especially if the feedback is blatantly unjustified.