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Google My Business

How to Collect and Manage Google My Business Reviews

Written by Chris Roberts on October 15, 2020

You’ve made it to the 5th and final day in our series on optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing.

If you’ve just landed here and have no idea what you’re doing on the last day, feel free to start from the beginning and work your way through all 5 days sequentially.

If you’ve been with us through all 5 days, then congratulations! You are almost to the finish line.

By completing the steps outlined in each day, you should have one of the most optimized Google My Business listings out there, which will set you apart from your competition and should have a positive impact on your visibility in searches that have a local intent (e.g. “apartments near me” or “apartments in Nashville TN”).

Without any more ado, let’s get right into the substance of today’s topic: GMB Reviews.

Reviews: A Delicate Balance

Let’s be perfectly honest here: reviews were a great idea when they first came out, but have since turned into a bit of a mess.

One problem is that the review, which originally applied only to a physical product, is now universal. Anyone can review anything at any time.

Another issue is that reviews provide consumers with a platform to air their grievances, whether they are justified or not. With no gatekeeper, people can leave nasty reviews for companies even if they have never done business with each other. They can also leave reviews for even the slightest mistake, which puts every company on the defensive.

However, the positive side of reviews is undeniable: when someone leaves a positive review and comment for your business, it allows others who have never heard of you to gain confidence that they should do business with you.

Positive reviews also send a strong signal to Google that your company treats its customers well and this results in more visibility in the search engines. After all, Google is in the business of providing searchers with the BEST results, so it stands to reason that they want to promote the BEST companies (and they use reviews to measure performance).

So – as a business that wants to rank well – you’re left in a bit of a bind.

You do have to ask your customers to leave you a review, with the knowledge that this opens up a can of worms and the potential that they will say negative things.

The silver lining here is that even negative reviews are not the end of the world, since they provide valuable insights about a part of your business that could use improvement (assuming that the negative review is justified).

GMB Review Attributes

It’s one thing for a customer to leave you a 5-star review. It’s something else entirely for them to write a review.

The big problem with the reviews that are just a star rating with no text is that this makes the review useless, both for Google as well as for you.

What was it that you did that earned you those 5 stars? Conversely, what problem did someone have that resulted in 2 stars? Without additional text to provide context, it’s very hard to tell.

Here’s a metric for you: 35% of reviews have no content.

In order to address this issue, Google has now rolled out something called Review Attributes.

Review Attributes are not necessarily new – they have been around in some form since 2010 – but Google has expanded them to more business categories as recently as April 2020.

I think of Review Attributes as a sort of “cheat review” for those who are too lazy to type something.

Here’s what they look like:

gmb-review-services

There are some important things to call out about these Review Attributes:

  1. Google now asks “Did you use this business?” – this is CRITICAL because in the past anyone could leave a review even if they had not used the business and just wanted to comment. While people can answer untruthfully, I think this will limit the number of truly unfair critical reviews.
  2. Google asks “What services did they perform?” – this is great for the lazy reviewer, because now they just have to click buttons instead of typing out what the business did for them.

Next, let’s take a look at what else happens when the reviewer selects 5 stars.

gmb-review-attributes

Now, Google is asking some additional questions to determine what justified the 5-star rating. Was it “Good value” or because the company is “Professional”?

This achieves two different goals for Google:

  1. It resolves the problem of the no-text review: even if the person doesn’t write anything else, they are likely to click on the options that help explain their positive review
  2. It allows Google to collect “clean” data about each business. Rather than having to determine why a business has positive ratings by parsing the text of each review, Google now has an easy way to say that “Company A has great ratings because they are a good value”.

It also looks good for your business. Whenever a new potential customer looks at your reviews, this is what they see now:

gmb-review-example

Each individual review now includes what made the experience positive for the consumer and it supplements the text of the review.

Unfortunately, Review Attributes are NOT universal, so they will only show up for certain types of businesses. As mentioned previously, Google did roll them out to more business categories in early 2020, so expect this to change as time goes on.

Action Step 1 – Discover if Your Google Reviews Have Attributes

It’s pretty easy to figure out if your business category includes Review Attributes.

  1. Google your business by name
  2. In the GMB listing that displays on the right, scroll down to Reviews
  3. Click “Write a review”
  4. Give yourself a 5-star rating (of course)
  5. See if any Review Attributes display

If not, sorry – Google just hasn’t applied them to your business category yet. If yes, bonus!

Action Step 2 – Make it EASY For People to Review

Judging by the percentage of people who leave a star rating but don’t write anything, reviewers are inherently lazy.

This makes sense, especially when they’ve had a positive experience with your business. With nothing to complain about, people are not motivated to take time out of their busy day to write a glowing review of your business.

Given this, it’s critical that you make it as easy as possible for someone to leave a review.

Please don’t just make an open-ended request to “leave a review”, because people won’t know how to follow through: should I review on Google or Yelp?

Also don’t just direct them to “leave a review on Google” because then they have to first search for your business to find your GMB listing and THEN leave a review – too many steps!

Here’s how to set things up so that a reviewer has ONE STEP to leave you a review:

  1. Log in to Google My Business
  2. Click “Info” in the left menu
  3. Scroll down until you see “Profile short name” – or skip to step 7 if you already have one
  4. Enter a short name for your business profile
  5. PAUSE – it will take Google a day or two to confirm your use of the short name
  6. After a few days, log back in to GMB and look for the option to “Share review form”
  7. Click “Share via email”
  8. This will open your email and show you the link to your reviews (the link will include your short name)
  9. Copy this link

Now, have this link available every time you ask someone for a review:

  • Email or text it to people who've verbally expressed appreciation or thanks
  • Include it in your email signature
  • Add it to your website
  • Display it prominently on business cards and other printed materials

Action Step 3 - Turn You Review Link Into a QR Code

While having your quick link to reviews definitely will help make reviewing easier for your customers, there's an even easier way to send them straight to your GMB review.

Here's how:

  1. Go to QR Code Generator
  2. Paste your GMB review link where it says “Enter your website, text or drop a file here”
  3. Download a JPG of your QR Code

Now, print the QR Code on absolutely everything.

For example, print it right on the back of business cards, so that when you hand one out, you can say “please leave a review” and flip the card over to show them the QR code.

All the person has to do is point their phone camera at the QR Code and they should see a prompt that takes them straight to a GMB review for your business.

Want to see it in action?

Here’s the QR Code for OpenProperty – just aim your camera at this code and see what happens next.

op-review-qr-code

It couldn’t be easier.

Action Step 3 – Promote the Use of Keywords in Reviews

One reason why many people don’t leave text reviews is that they just don’t know what to say.

While I am not suggesting that you put words into their mouths, you can certainly provide them with some inspiration in the form of questions.

For example:

  • What service did the business perform for you today?
  • Was this your first use of the business?
  • What did you like about this business?
  • What would you tell a friend about us?

Here’s why providing some prompts and guidance is important: Google looks at the words that people use in their reviews to determine what keywords your business will rank for.

Let’s take a look at two examples of reviews for an apartment building:

Just moved here from Nebraska. Great place to live and the staff is very helpful. The place is clean and it’s very close to lots of transportation. I enjoy living here. This is a fantastic apartment complex. The apartments are awesome and I really love the amenities like the gym, pool, free parking and more. Plus, it’s also close to lots of great bars and restaurants.

In case it’s not obvious, one of these does not even mention the word “apartment” while the other is chock-full of keyword goodness: apartment complex, amenities, pool, free parking, restaurants, etc.

Clearly, the review on the right is going to make it clearer to Google exactly what type of business you are. Yes, they do have the primary business category to refer to, but if reviewers also mention the same category, it makes your listing better in the eyes of Google.

The more that you encourage reviewers to use keywords related to your business the better.

Bonus Step - Use Reviews in Posts

This is a great way to showcase what people are saying about your business AND it provides you with plenty of content for your Google My Business Posts.

Review your reviews for quotes that highlight what your customers like about your business or why they chose your company.

Take these quotes and turn them into eye-catching graphics (using a service like Canva) and THEN use those graphics for your posts.

Since you need content for Posts, this will incentivize you to collect more reviews. Win-win!

That’s It – The End!

If you’ve stuck with us through the entire 5 Day program, thank you – we appreciate you taking the time to follow along and we definitely hope that you’ve learned something valuable.

We especially hope that your Google My Business listing is now in the best shape that it’s ever been in, and that this drives more awareness and customers to your business.

Remember: customers are constantly trying to make decisions about who to do business with, AND it’s entirely possible that they will never leave Google to make up their minds.

Given this, it’s in your best interest to make a great first impression and have a complete and robust Google My Business listing that really showcases everything your business has to offer.

If you’ve benefited from the information in this series, have suggestions about how it can be improved OR if you have questions about anything, we’d like to hear from you.