How to Respond to Google Reviews to Strengthen Your Online Reputation & SEO

Respond to Online Reviews? What’s the point?

The point is that 91% of your potential customers read online reviews. Not to mention it’s free advertising.

More and more search engine users rely on business reviews to help inform their decision. But 5-star rated companies don’t automatically receive the business. That’s why you need to know how to respond to Google reviews.

So, let’s . . . review.

Why You Should Respond to Users’ Reviews

The easy answer: it’s good for business.

The second easy answer: it’s a savvy SEO strategy.

Here’s why:

1) Creates a valuable bond: Current customers want to use your product or service again if they feel listened to. Remember: it can cost up to 30 times more to attract new customers than to keep current customers.

2) It’s an investment in the future: Owner responses are not read only by the reviewer. They’re being read by people who may become future customers. In fact, 88% trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

3) A method to provide top-tier customer service: You wouldn’t turn your back on a customer offering feedback face-to-face. Treat online reviews the same way. They have the same effect.

4) An excellent “no pressure” sales technique: Experienced owners recognize the comments space as an advertising opportunity. Highlight your companies strengths (in context). You’ll leave a favorable impression without sounding sales-y.

5) It’s considered content. And we all know that content is king!

How to Respond to Google Reviews

Respond to Them All

Whether raving love letters or snarky snips, you need to respond to every review.

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Customers leaving positive reviews like to know you noticed. And by composing the proper response, you can turn a 1-star rating into 2 or 3 stars. It’s a matter of showing that you care.

If your business is in a specific niche similar to Julie Johnson Law, it’s even more important to respond. You receive fewer reviews so a business that responds will stand out from the competition.

Responding to Negative Reviews

If you hie your head in the sand, a lack of response could seriously damage your online reputation. Potential future customers will wonder why you only respond to positive comments.

The key is to remain professional. Allowing your emotions to get the better of you does more damage. A well-constructed response follows these guidelines:

  • Apologize for the bad experience
  • Show empathy for the customer’s issue
  • Be honest, but do not place blame
  • Show that you hold your business and employees accountable
  • Offer solutions either for developing new policies or fixing the customer’s problem

Timely Responses

If you don’t respond to a review in a reasonable amount of time — many businesses make it a habit to set aside time every week to write owner responses — you give the impression that you respond “when you get around to it.”

A quick response keeps you top of mind, especially with the happy customer. They’re more likely to visit again to businesses who show they value customer opinion.

For an excellent example of how to respond to the full spectrum of customer reviews, read this excellent post: “Mastering the Owner Response to the Quintet of Google My Business Reviews.”

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Final Comments

An article in the Harvard Business Review sums it up perfectly. Frederick F. Reichheld says “The only path to profitable growth may lie in a company’s ability to get its loyal customers to become, in effect, its marketing department.”

By leveraging customer feedback, businesses are building a positive brand reputation. And you don’t have to pay a dime to do it.

Do you have more advice on how to respond to Google reviews? Share your ideas in the comments below.