A number of local business owners and managers continue to ask “Should I respond to Google Reviews?“. We understand the hesitation for those who receive a lot of them, as providing helpful responses to customer reviews can be time consuming. However, there has never been a more important time in history to monitor, manage, and respond to all Google Reviews as they occur. Here’s why.
3 Reasons Why Local Businesses Should Consider Google Review Responses to be “Mission Critical” in 2021-22
Backlash Against Business Response to Government Mandates
We live in a time when the government has a lot to say about who can and can’t come into your establishment (re: vaccine passports). This has caused a divide between the public, which includes your customer base. Some businesses have chosen to follow government orders to the tee, while others do not. Some customers on either side of the divide are using Google Reviews to penalize businesses for either following, or not following, certain government orders. Any business that is impacted by these orders (food service, hospitality, fitness, event management, etc.) is at risk of backlash of this nature. It is therefore extremely important to monitor every Google Review that comes through. Amidst the reviews may be some legitimate misunderstandings, which can be cleared up via quick communication with each reviewer. When cleared, a reviewer may adjust their negative score or remove it altogether.
Please note that your response needn’t be to the reviewer in clear instances of slander. Your retort in such cases may stoke the fire. Instead, your “response” can be to Google Support in the form of a removal request. When it’s clear that a negative review is coming from someone who is slandering your business you have a realistic shot at having it removed by Google Support. Google looks at the following to gauge whether or not a review is deemed slanderous and worthy of removal:
- The reviewer does not have a history of leaving Google Reviews.
- The reviewer Google account is brand new.
- There are multiple negative reviews from different Google accounts all owned by the same person (verifiable by IP address).
- The reviewer does not display a full name in their account profile.
- The reviewer provides a one to two-star rating yet offers no detailed explanation of the problem.
- The review is a part of a wave of negative reviews against your business that were all made on the same 24-48 hour period (estimate).
Google takes these matters quite seriously. They have listed reviews of this type to be in violation of their guidelines regarding “Prohibited and Restricted Content”, via this designation:
If you suspect that a review was made to slander your local business and manipulate your ratings, do not hesitate to report the review.
Consumers Are Now Reading Your Responses to Reviews
Sharing data on how many consumers research businesses by referencing reviews is unnecessary at this point. In 2021, everyone does it. The days of walking into a local business to “get a feel” for it before spending money are done and dusted for the foreseeable future. But one statistic we do want to draw your attention to, is the rate at which consumers read YOUR responses to reviews left by THEIR peers. A mind blowing 97% of review readers also read a businesses’ response to reviews. If your business does not respond, it tells prospective customers that you’re not interested in engaging with them, and that you will not be quick to respond to questions or concerns.
Your Response is a Search Engine Ranking Factor
Google includes Google Reviews as a ranking factor. When all else is equal, they will reward a local business with more positive reviews than their competitors with an increase in rank on the Google Map and even via standard results (non-map). However, they also look at a business’ own engagement with the reviews they receive:
This ranking factor has gained prominence over the last year, so again, be sure to respond to all non-slanderous reviews within the day that they are posted.Not only is it great for customer engagement, it can drive your local business to the top of the Google Map.
As alluded to in the introduction, monitoring, managing, and responding to Google Reviews can be time consuming. It also makes matters worse if you let emotion guide your responses. The latter may cause further friction with customers who already reported that they did not have a great experience at your local business. Instead, let us help you manage your reviews along with other important online marketing tasks. Contact Strategis Consulting Group to schedule a consultation.