How to Use Google Reviews to Boost Visibility
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As the most popular search engine, Google is the place you need to show up if you want potential clients to find you online. And Google reviews – user-generated feedback with a star rating or comment regarding a business or service experience – make that happen. A business’s reviews are viewable in Google Maps or its Google Business Profile.
Many financial firms are still developing a game plan to appropriately promote reviews and testimonials in compliance with the SEC’s new rules that permit this type of marketing. However, leveraging Google reviews for search engine optimization (SEO) is an often-overlooked opportunity even though they’re an integral part of Google’s complex algorithm to provide users with relevant results. For example, local-targeted searches, which include reviews, have been increasing on the platform, with 97% of users including “near me” or specific location information in their requests.
Capitalize on Google reviews to increase your firm’s visibility online, build social proof, and gain more business.
Why are Google reviews influential?
Social proof refers to people looking to others to decide how to act in a particular situation. For example, it happens when you ask your trusted neighbor for a physician recommendation or scour Amazon reviews before adding items to your cart. For advisors, it entails awards, certifications, testimonials, and reviews that persuade clients to engage in services. Google prioritizes delivering highly credible, relevant, and beneficial results to users by collecting user-generated data online that demonstrates a business’s social proof.
Benefits of Google reviews
Boosting searchability and leads are among the many benefits of creating a Google reviews strategy for your firm.
Google favors businesses that have demonstrated social proof online, ranking them higher in search results. Have you ever scrolled to page 10 following a query? Likely, you’ve only considered the top results when deciding. Additionally, Google prefers businesses listed on its platform with a Google Business Profile over third-party review sites such as Yelp or Trustpilot.
Better marketing insights
Whether glowing or negative, reviews provide insights into your clients’ experience. This information helps your firm decide what’s working, what needs improvement, and what recurring challenges your clients have.
Potential clients trust businesses more if they have online reviews. When you have several positive Google reviews, users are more likely to visit your website or office. More traffic means more leads, as you are able to showcase your firm’s values, approach, and team.
How to get started with Google reviews
If you’ve yet to create a Google Business Profile, start by claiming and verifying your business. Verification allows you to respond to reviews as they come in. In addition, your profile is another opportunity to incorporate keywords for SEO purposes and share relevant information such as your location, hours, and services.
How to get Google reviews
While clients can search for your firm profile on Google and leave a review or star rating at any time, you can proactively request reviews as part of your marketing strategy and can even integrate reviews into the client journey.
Use a direct link
- Navigate to the administrative backend of your Google Business Profile.
- Find the options to “promote” or “get more reviews,” which will generate a link to directly submit a review.
Request reviews periodically
- During a regular nurturing email campaign;
- Following a positive experience or benchmark achievement; or
- When a client has been with your firm for a certain amount of time.
Create reusable email templates
- The most effective emails are timely and customized so leave a space in your templates to drop in a personalized message.
- Keep the email brief and include your review link.
- Requests should never include an incentive to leave a review, which does not comply with Google’s policies.
Clients do not need a Gmail email address to leave a review, but they must have a Google account. Reviews cannot be anonymous and user information will be visible.
How to manage your reviews
Once you start receiving Google reviews, you can manage them, which includes responding, reporting, and removing them.
Responding to reviews
Your team should regularly monitor and promptly respond to reviews through your Google Business Profile. Potential clients can view how you interact with past or current clients who have left reviews.
Thank reviewers for their positive comments, allowing them to see there are real people behind this Google profile. You can also email or call them directly to share your gratitude.
Consult with your legal and compliance team to discuss how you may promote the review on your website, on social media, or in print materials. You’ll want to be in line with the new SEC ruling that outlines parameters for financial firms marketing via testimonials and reviews.
Unfortunately, not every review is a rave, but even negative reviews provide helpful insights into areas that may need improvement. Here are some other factors to keep in mind with negative reviews.
Bad reviews aren’t always so bad. Negative reviews could be a chance to show off your compassion and values. It also demonstrates how you manage client situations when an issue arises. Start with responding directly to the review. You can also reach out to the reviewer to continue the discussion offline for other ways to reconcile the situation. This interaction could be decisive in building trust in the eyes of the original reviewer and other potential clients.
Google doesn't allow “review gating,” which is filtering your reviews to include only positive ones. A few negative but accurate reviews will not necessarily affect your search ranking.
Reporting and removing reviews
Some reviews may go against Google’s content policy. You may flag a review for removal if it includes the following:
- Spam, obscene, off-topic, or other inappropriate content;
- Personal, sensitive, or other identifying information; or
- A suspected fake account or misleading information.
Learning about Google reviews and how they impact your credibility and online visibility puts you ahead of many firms that aren’t actively leveraging the powerful platform. From new insights to more traffic, leads, and conversions, the results of a Google reviews strategy are significant.
This is only one step in your SEO journey, but just as in investing, time will be on your side the earlier you start. You’ll have more time and experience to request more reviews, improve processes and services, if necessary, based on their feedback. You will be positioned to gain new clients. As the cycle repeats, you’ll move up the Google search results.
Lauren Hong is president of Out & About, a full-service marketing firm that she founded in 2013.