Business Owners guide to Google Reviews 

One of the best strategies to grow your business online, is through positive user reviews. Unfortunately human nature is if you’ve had a negative experience, you’re more likely to take the time to give the company your potentially ‘colourful’ feedback. According to a recent survey customers are 21% more likely to post a negative Google review than a favourable one. One of the golden rules is that no one will notice or care if your business performs it job well. 

Due to the disparity between positive and negative reviews, some businesses will go over and beyond to entice clients to submit positive evaluations on Google and other online platforms. Sometimes the process can be tricky to navigate since Google has strict review policies (that not many people know about). So before you hustle for those five-star ratings keep these warnings in mind. 

Here are Google’s review policy guidelines

1. You Can Request Reviews – To a Point 

Asking for client evaluations is one of the best ways to obtain them. Requesting reviews after a customer makes a purchase or uses a service is perfectly acceptable (and it’s a great time to)! It’s only inappropriate if there’s a request that your customer only leaves a review if it’s a perfect five-star rating only. I’m sure we all “encourage” a favourable review (if you appreciate our service give us a Google rating! ). Although unfavourable reviews cannot be actively discouraged. Generally we take this as it has to be the customers own interpretation of how they rate your businesses service. 

2. You Can’t Buy Reviews.  

You could be tempted to offer rewards to clients who submit favourable reviews online because online ratings may significantly impact your business. Some businesses have offered money in exchange for reviews, regardless of whether the person has used the services or not. As you’d guess Google forbids this method and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also states its unlawful. 

Fake reviews are prohibited by the ACCC, which also vigorously enforces the law against companies that engage in it. The ACCC regards paid/fake reviews as “false advertising” which might result in a fine for your business.  

Some interesting variations have been a law company that provided free admission to the zoo for customers who posted reviews. When this was found out, all the customer reviews were removed by Google because this approach was against their policies. 

3. Reviews Cannot Be Requested “In Bulk.” 

Google gives businesses who want to attract more consumers to post reviews, some leeway even though the precise meaning of “in bulk” is somewhat open to interpretation. Here are a few instances: 

  • Posting on social media – It’s fine (even popular) to have your Google ratings on your website. Although if you create a post regarding reviews on Social Media and bulk tag your followers, that’s a no. 
  • Automated Emails – Following up with clients who have used your product or service with an email is a great approach to asking for reviews. Even if this procedure is automatic, the “in bulk” concept is not broken because you only send one message to a specific person. 
  • Email chains – Sending a review email to every subscriber on your list can be viewed as a “bulk” solicitation. However depending on your language and the length of your list it could be challenging to verify. 

In general requesting bulk reviews from large groups of customers at a single time – that’s a no form Google. Contacting each person directly by email or get creative like a Google Review QR code on a receipt – That’s ok. 

4. Employee, friend, or family reviews are not permitted. 

Ok an easy way to get reviews would be to ask an employee, friend, or family member. Although any review that can be deemed a conflict of interest violates googles policy, so avoid soliciting people you know. This approach lead’s to biased reviews additionally employees could believe that failing to leave a review will result in penalties in the workplace. 

5. Negative reviews cannot be deleted – or can they? 

Even though you can’t stop people from submitting bad reviews, you do have a right of recourse if the review is defamatory, fake or the person leaving the review just heard from a mate that your business was bad (the experience wasn’t firsthand). You can submit a case to Google to ‘review’ and remove the ‘review.’  Only Google has the authority to determine if this is the case and delete these. Google will only delete a review if it clearly violates their policy, so get to know it! 

Guidelines for Requesting Google Reviews 

It can be difficult to determine what is allowed and recommended because there are many rules and limitations. Here are some suggestions for encouraging more individuals to post good reviews on Google and other online platforms. 

Ask each Customer after the sale and make it easy for them. 

With one-on-one conversations you gain valuable feedback and if you feel comfortable ask the customer to leave a review. Alternatively include a QR code or link to your Google Review wherever you can, including invoices, receipts, and emails on your website. When customers are reminded to post reviews, they are more likely to do so. 

Respond to all your business reviews 

Customers will be inspired to submit additional evaluations when they see that a company reads them and reacts. This is especially true if you respond to unfavourable comments. For instance, if someone has a negative experience you can respond by asking them to contact you directly. This shows you are interested in fixing any issues and the customer may update their rating if you resolve their issue. 

Are You Struggling to Manage Your Online Reputation? 

Maintaining a good online reputation is essential for expanding your company. Contact Dezign Digital today to find out what we can do. We have the resources and expertise to make it happen in house! 

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