Reviews are becoming an increasingly important part of the consumer’s decision-making process – especially Gen X and Millennials. They are turning to online reviews for other’s opinions on restaurants, hotels, graphic designers and indeed anything they’re considering spending their money.

Do you have control over your reviews? Do you know where they are and what they say?


Taking ownership

Google automatically creates a listing for many businesses that will appear when those businesses are searched for. These listings are invaluable to businesses, as they allow control over the way potential customers will perceive them when they are googled.

Claiming these pages is easy, as there is a simple prompt on the page asking if you own the business. The claiming process may take up to two weeks, but once completed you will control the listing.


Getting good reviews to show first

The listing will be where the reviews are left. The good and the bad will all be there. Google will rank them by importance, with more detailed reviews showing higher than single sentence or uncommented reviews.
These reviews are important for several reason. In addition to being one of the first things potential customers check, the reviews also formulate a star rating, an aggregate of each individual review.

Having many good reviews is essential, not just to increase your star rating and making your business look more attractive, but also to drown out the noise of any potential bad reviews, especially when those bad reviews come from someone with a chip on their shoulder!


Getting your first review

There are several do’s and don’ts when it comes to your clients and good reviews. It is important to not send out a broadcast email to your clients, friends and family asking for a five-star review. Not all of them may believe you deserve that rating, and Google’s algorithm will pick up on several highly positive reviews flooding your listing all at once.

What you should do instead is start by asking some important clients who would walk over hot coals for you to write a review.


Making it part of your customer service process

As a general rule, it’s good to follow up your customers to get some feedback on how they found your product or service. When a customer has positive feedback, follow them up with a ‘glad you liked us’ email. This email should contain a direct link to the location where they can write the review. This makes the process simple and Google’s algorithm prefers consistent reviews over time.


Always respond to reviews

Leaving replies on positive reviews shows that you are engaged with your customers, and also indicates to Google’s algorithms that this review is more noteworthy, placing it higher in the listing.


Dealing with bad reviews

As with good reviews, dealing with bad reviews is a complex issue that can make or break your business’ reputation depending on how you handle it. The most important thing NOT to do is respond with an angry rant. This appears both unprofessional, can create an on-going argument and, as with responding to positive comments, makes the review seem more important, bumping it up higher in the list.


Legitimate Bad Reviews

Instead, the first thing you should do is ensure the review is real. If the reviewer is a client you recognise and know, contact them privately, either through a phone call or an email. Offer to remedy the issues they have raised, and then ask them politely to either change or take down the review.


Fake Bad Reviews

However, if the review is not from a legitimate client, respond to them on the review stating that you do not know who they are and would like them to contact you. This allows you to appear level headed, and then proceed with the steps outlined above. Always report fake reviews to Google.


How are Facebook reviews different to Google

Reviews on Facebook operate quite similarly to those on Google. Facebook may have automatically created a listing for your business, so it is wise to claim it in order to moderate it. When dealing with reviews on Facebook, manage them with the same rules as those for Facebook, with a few caveats.


Block unhappy customers before they review

Facebook allows you far greater control over the reviews you receive. If there is a particularly volatile reviewer leaving negative comments on your Facebook page, you may block them. This allows them to still see their comments, but other users will not. It also means that they can’t move from negative comments to negative reviews. Once you get a negative review you can’t hide it like you can with comments.


When a PR crisis hits

If your company is hitting with a PR issue, you can disable reviews on your Facebook page in order to save your rating for once it blows over.


Encourage cross-platform reviewing

It is also a good idea to ask those who leave positive Facebook reviews to make a review on Google, as well as the other way around.


Business Best Practice

Reviews are a great way of encouraging business best practice. By managing what customers are saying about your business you are managing the quality of the products and services you are providing. It’s a win for you and your customers.

Taking ownership of the listings, and moderating reviews correctly, are critical first steps in taking advantage of this powerful asset Google and Facebook have generated for you.