“We’re struggling to be found online by current and new customers – how can we improve our digital presence and SEO?” is a question we often get asked by a wide range of businesses.
No results are ever guaranteed when it comes to SEO strategies – search algorithms are complex beasts that are constantly changing, and keeping on top of these latest trends is a task in itself. However, by creating a carefully-devised plan based upon proven techniques that appease the evolving criteria of search engines, the chances of success can be significantly enhanced.
Multiple factors affect how search engines perceive your business and although each organisation requires a bespoke SEO strategy to be implemented, there is one tactic that we always recommend to businesses from all types of industries: To create a Google Business Page and gather reviews from clients and partners. It won’t guarantee you’ll be on page 1 on Google for every possible search, nor will it mean you’ll suddenly be receiving thousands of enquiries every day, but it will vastly improve your chances of a desirable online presence.
Let us explain why…
What is a Google Business Page?
A Google Business Page, also known as Google My Business, is a profile that appears at the top of the search results when your business, or its primary service, is searched for – it’s a great tool that enables you to give specific information to Google about your business, such as your address, a contact number, your opening hours, as well as a link to your website. This profile also acts as a place to collect reviews, and for you and your customers to post images of your business, your team, the premises you operate from and your products and services.
With 82% of smartphone owners using Google to look for a local business, those who don’t have a well-optimised Google Business Page, or indeed a mobile responsive website, are certainly missing out on a valuable opportunity.
It doesn’t just help with visibility in local searches, it also provides a place for clients, customers and partners to easily leave and assess reviews, which is something that all businesses should be actively encouraging.
Improve Online Visibility Locally
Google Reviews play an important role in determining your website’s position, particularly in local searches. Google Business Pages are connected to Google Maps, which means the reviews you collect will influence your presence in the Local Pack (also known as the Map Pack). This pack lists the appropriate businesses near the location from where the user is searching from and displays them above the standard results – they have a greater presence and are more likely to receive greater attention. It also shows their average star rating, and those with the higher ratings are favoured by the Map Pack so are usually displayed as the top result due to Google recognising them as a trusted website.
A substantial proportion (around 9%) of Google’s entire search algorithm is based upon review signals, showing just how much Google values genuine, independent feedback.
Create Better Brand Appearance in Google
Getting plenty of reviews on your Google Business Page from clients and partners will both improve your SEO and help create a better brand appearance in Google. Prospective customers will view you as a much more reliable and established business than those without any reviews or with a poor average rating.
However, achieving a successful branded appearance in Google also involves ensuring the Business Page is fully optimised. This includes making sure that you upload appropriate, high-resolution graphics, logos and images at the correct dimensions.
Improve Customer Trust
Transparency and honesty is today valued more than ever by customers, with 91% of consumers regularly checking online reviews before making a purchase or using a service. Google Reviews allow you to build trust and credibility which are both vital in the customer decision-making process, and as Google is likely to be the platform where the majority of your potential customers are first introduced to your brand, it’s important you make the right impression.
In short, customers often turn to Google Reviews to assess the quality and trustworthiness of a company before enquiring, so having a positive review rating could be all the conformation needed for customers to pick up the phone. It significantly helps professional websites to get results.
Feedback Loop and Customer Intelligence
The feedback loop is vital to a business’ success, and one of the most valuable benefits of obtaining Google Reviews is the customer intelligence you gain. All reviews can act as feedback to your service, helping you to understand where exactly your business needs improving as well as the areas of which your business are exceeding your clients’ expectations.
How to get more Google Reviews
We find that our clients have most success by emailing out requests to genuine customers after finishing a project or delivering their product. This is done most effectively by sending the URL to your reviews on your Google Business page, making it as quick and easy as possible for them to leave the review. Perhaps schedule this in your calendar once a week or once a month, if you don’t have time to send the requests individually. Don’t forget to follow them up once or twice too – sometimes they need a nudge of encouragement!
Where is my Google Review URL?
- Step 1 – Google search your own business name
- Step 2 – Click the ‘Reviews’ hyperlink on the right hand-side
- Step 3 – Now that the lightbox has appeared showing your most recent reviews, copy the URL in your browser window.
- Step 4 – Email this link to your client alongside a polite request for leaving you a Google Review.
Linking Facebook Reviews to Google Business Page
It’s also important to collect reviews through your social media channels. If you have links to your Facebook page on your website for example, Google will link them together and show reviews you have collected on social media within your Google Business page.
To make sure this works effectively, ensure your website is correct within your Facebook Business Profile information, and that your website has links to your social media profiles in its footer and contact page.
Important information about collecting more Google Reviews
Most importantly, this approach is sustainable. There’s a lot of phoneys out there and agencies who will promise you lots of reviews, which often turn out to be bought in from abroad. Potential customers and clients can smell this a mile off.
So don’t be tempted to buy reviews or falsify them by creating Google Accounts or asking your staff to leave them for you. Google is smart – it’s very easy for it to recognise suspicious account activity. Wouldn’t you find it odd if someone created an account, left a review and never logged in again?
If you’re delivering a great service, clients and customers will be more than happy to leave you a positive review.
If you would like help with setting-up your Google Business Page and creating a strategy to receive reviews from your clients and partners, please don’t hesitate to talk to us today.