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Google Reviews: Why They’re Important and What to Do About Them

Why GMB Reviews Are So Important

What we’ll cover in this post:

  • The importance of Google reviews to your online reputation
  • How to respond to both positive and negative reviews
  • A step-by-step how-to on the process

In order to get the most out of your Google My Business listing, it is important to keep up with reviews on a consistent basis.

Responding to Google reviews is just as influential as the reviews themselves. It provides prospective customers with a feel for what you’re like, encourages more customers to leave reviews, and can sometimes result in people amending their initial negative reviews and ratings to positive ones.

gmb review example Responding to reviews will also help you to stay on top of your online reputation, make improvements where necessary, and identify strengths to focus on.

It is important to take special consideration when replying to negative reviews. Be professional and calm when responding to these while also providing either an explanation for the negative experience the reviewer had or a resolution.

If there is no explanation, or if you feel the reviewer is being dishonest or misrepresenting their experience, it is never a good idea to express this in your response.

In the case that a disgruntled person or business competitor is deliberately committing libel or slander there are further actions that can be taken, but that is a bridge to be crossed when the time comes, and going about this is to be resolved circumstantially.

How to Respond to Google Reviews

Here is a step by step guide on how to respond to your Google reviews:

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access the Google My Business dashboard by navigating to business.google.com.

 

 

If you own or manage your business listing but are directed to a page with a search bar in the center that prompts you to “Find and manage your business,” no need to fret. Simply click on the Google My Business logo in the top-left corner of the page.

 

 

Step 2
Click the three horizontal bars in the top left-hand corner and click on your listing from the “Locations” menu.

 

 

Step 3

To the left, you will see a panel containing multiple options (“Home”, “Posts”, “Info”, “Insights”, and below “Insights”, “Reviews”). Click on Reviews.

gmb diagram
It will then, at the top, show you all of your reviews which you can sort by All, Replied, and Haven’t Replied. To the right of these options, there will be three horizontal lines. Click on this to see further ways in which to sort your reviews if you wish to, such as ranking them from highest to lowest or vice versa.

At the bottom of each review, you will see an option to Reply. Simply click on this, type your reply, and click Post Reply. If you have already replied to a review, instead of presenting you with the Reply button you will see the option to either Edit or Delete your reply.

 

Responding to these reviews, good and bad, is essential for local SEO. We hope that this has helped you understand Google Reviews the process so that you can climb your way to the top 3.

 

“Google My Business A to Z” – The Complete Course Pre-Release Announcement

Learn Google My Business from the Experts

If you follow us here at Horizon Web Marketing you know that our passion is for training business people to untangle the world of digital marketing. We conduct workshops and webinars, we even have our own training channel, the Horizon Web Marketing Academy.

So we’re excited to be putting the final touches on one of our most ambitious projects ever: the Google My Business Complete Course. It’s a deep dive into Google’s primary tool for local business people. But even though it’s a “deep dive,” we never go over your head with our training. Lead SEO trainer Ross Barefoot puts everything into plain business English.

The course is broken down into easily-digested modules and you get a full PDF ebook with the course contents so you can refer back whenever you need. Not only that, we give you lifetime access to the course.

Now we haven’t set a price yet, but we will soon. If you want to be notified as soon as we price and release this complete course, please fill out the form to the right and we will make sure you get all the details promptly.

The full information on the course, including the course contents, is listed below, so read on to see why we’re so excited!

Class Release Notification GMB

    I have read and understood Horizon’s Privacy Policy.

Are you in business? Then “Google My Business” is important to your success.

As a business person, you already know that Google is important. For all of the press coverage Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, and other platforms receive, a Google search is still the most likely way a new customer will find you online.

 

 

image of knowledge panel with indicator for Google My Business

 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

But most businesses still don’t know how to effectively engage with “Google My Business,” the free management tool that Google has developed to allow businesses to communicate their critical business information to Google. If you’re not familiar with Google My Business (let’s just call it GMB for short), it is a special database that feeds business information into the results that searchers will see about you on Google Maps and in the Google “Knowledge Panel” (see next image).

Drawing of complicated knots to illustrate the complexity of Google My BusinessUnraveling Google My Business is Hard

Although many business owners have explored their GMB account (and more probably have not), very few are not intimidated by it.

First, GMB changes almost weekly, with new features, removed features, changed features. It’s Google’s usual pattern: constant change.

Second, GMB changes from one business to another, so it’s very hard to know how it will appear to any given business, at least when it comes to details of their account.

Finally, it’s not always intuitive. We understand Google does the best they can to make it intuitive and to inform their users, but as with any incredibly powerful software tool, it’s very hard to know what the platform is capable of, and how to access subtle but critical features.

All of this is not to mention the fact that Google has rules and policies surrounding what data you enter and even how you enter it.

Our newly redesigned GMB course is meant to address and remove all of those obstacles for you, the mystified business owner.

We Walk You Through All the Google My Business Features

Our course covers the complete list of GMB features and does it in plain business English with plenty of illustrations and explanations. Just look at the list of modules:

  • Business visibility and Google: what it looks like
  • Factors for good visibility: what will help your listing show
  • A tour of GMB: what’s in the box
  • Typical business action items, overview: here’s your beginning to-do list
  • How to find your business listing: sometimes it’s a treasure hunt
  • Claiming your listing: hey Google, that business belongs to me!
  • Setting up a new business: just getting started? Here’s how!
  • Verifying your listing: prove it’s yours, and not someone else’s
  • Optimizing your business name: keywords, stuffing, and (almost) unwritten rules
  • Determining your business categories: one list to rule them all
  • The importance of how you enter your location: what’s in a (street) name
  • Hours, more hours, and even more hours: And you thought you worked enough hours already!
  • The subtle importance of how you represent your phone number: after all, it’s your lifeline
  • Location links: lots of ways to bring your customers back home
  • Attributes: Google giveth, and Google taketh away
  • Your Business Description: Time to really use those keywords
  • Posts: Microblogging is back in again (take that, Twitter!)
  • Q&A: create your own powerful FAQs, just for GMB
  • Insights and Analytics: who, what, when, how many…understand your audience
  • Reviews: the two edge sword and how to keep it from cutting you
  • Using the GMB Mobile App: sometimes nothing else will get the job done
  • Photos and Videos: leveraging visual assets for a visual age
  • Business-Specific Offerings: Services, Products, Bookings, Menu
  • Tips Multi-Location Businesses
  • GMB Websites: A great tool, but hardly a “website”
  • Users and Access: It takes a team to make GMB succeed; here’s how to manage it
  • Duplicate Listings: Sometimes more is actually less
  • Getting Support from Google: the secrets of the temple
  • Dealing With Spam: the mosquitos of the GMB world

 

New! A Free Google My Business Workshop from the Horizon Web Marketing Academy

All About Our Google My Business, Free SEO Workshop Training

The Short version

  • Even voice search like Google Assistant or Siri relies on Google Search, so
  • If your business is invisible in Google, it’s invisible
  • Google has every business in its database, somewhere
  • Google My Business is the tool Google has created for you to manage your business in their database
  • Google My Business is often wrong, and you need to manage your business for accuracy and success
  • Our free workshop is coming up and will help you

Already know you want to go? Here are some quick signup links

Sign up here for the Grand Junction evening workshop. Wednesday, November 13th at 7pm.
Sign up here for the Grand Junction Saturday morning workshop. Saturday, November 16th at 10am.

The Full Version

How successful will you be in a local business if no one knows about you, or if they can’t find you?
 
No business can succeed if it can’t connect with potential customers. Gone are the days when that connection came through the local Yellow Pages.
 
People look for local retailers and service providers in a bunch of different ways, but they all seem to be driven by the Internet and, usually, by Google.

Think of voice search. Someone with a clogged drain, or looking for a Japanese restaurant, or searching for the best deal on gardening equipment, are increasingly likely to speak that into their mobile phone.

“Hey Google, what’s a good plumber near me?”
“Siri, where’s the closest restaurant that serves sushi?”
“Alexa, where can I buy cheap gardening equipment?”

If someone is using Siri or Google’s voice assistant, their voice question is turned into a Google search. The Google results are then interpreted by the auditory response the questioner hears. (If they are searching on Alexa or Cortana the search is handled by Bing.)

Logo for Google Voice Assistant

Whether a person is looking for what you have to offer on their computer, by typing into their phone, or even by speaking a question to a digital voice assistant, whether you reach that customer depends on whether Google or Bing know about your business and consider it relevant to what they want.

This brings us to “Google My Business.”

Google’s goal is to index (which is another word for saying “to catalog”) every business on planet earth. They most likely have your business in their index, whether you’ve helped them or not. The management tool for refining the information that Google has about every business is called “Google My Business.”

Using Google My Business, a business owner can manage the information about their business that Google has. This is important because Google gets things wrong about businesses all the time. Wrong address, wrong phone, wrong mapping location, wrong business category, etc.

The only way that you can make sure Google’s information on your business is accurate is by checking it and making changes where you need to. You do that using Google My Business

You may already have done this…or started to! You may already know a bit about Google My Business. But did you know that there are things you can do within Google My Business that will significantly increase your chances of being seen by your ideal customer?

promotion image for the Google My Business Free SEO Workshop

This, in turn, brings us to Optimizing Google My Business, and this free workshop

The world of Google My Business is constantly changing. In fact, it changes so fast that even professionals have a hard time keeping up. For example, in my role as an SEO consultant and trainer, I spend at least an hour every day monitoring changes to Google’s methods and learning new ways of taking advantage of, or protecting my clients from, those changes.

Now you can hire me on an hourly basis, but my time is, frankly, too expensive for most small businesses. This means that most small businesses have to take responsibility for their own “SEO.” If you’re in that boat, you need to know at least enough to make sure you have your ducks in a row so that you don’t lose out to competitors.

We’ve designed the business training at the Horizon Web Marketing Academy to help people just like you succeed in doing the basics of SEO yourself — even with limited time, and limited technical knowledge — without hiring a high-priced SEO agency. In some cases, our “low cost” training is even free.

This is one of those free opportunities that really has value

The workshop we’ve designed, and that I’m blogging about right now, is not some 2-hour sales pitch. In fact, if you look at the training videos I’ve posted on Horizon’s YouTube channel, you can see that they are not heavily focused on sales (probably not focused enough on sales, between you and me).

This workshop will show you the key steps in engaging with Google My Business and optimizing your own business listing for success.

When you are done you will have the knowledge and confidence to make sure you have done right by your business and set yourself up for the visibility you deserve when people look — however they look — for what you have to offer.

Why are we doing a Free SEO Workshop like this?

It’s simple. We believe that the best customers are found when a business is generous. For us, being generous means that we share some of our knowledge and experience without charging you every time we do.

Of course, (to state the obvious) we hope that when you get acquainted with the knowledge and experience that we have to offer, you’ll be interested in our other consulting and training services. Either way, you’ll come out ahead, we promise!

Sign up here for the Grand Junction evening workshop. Wednesday, November 13th at 7pm.
Sign up here for the Grand Junction Saturday morning workshop. Saturday, November 16th at 10am.

Why Are You Invisible on Google? Our Free SEO Training Webinars Begin March 9th!

My poor, invisible chiropractor.  Does Google hate him?

I’ve been going to the same chiropractor in Grand Junction for 27 years, Thomas Foote (his practice is called Applied Chiropractic Health Center).  Tom is a good egg.  He prides himself on not being a (stereo)typical chiropractor.  In other words he doesn’t try to get you to come back to him every week until your money runs out, he doesn’t try to push unproven miracle cures on anyone (and I know there are many other chiropractors like Tom, and if you’re one of them, please don’t throw stones at me, but let’s face it, that’s the common view people have of the profession).  Tom knows his stuff.  He has a good manner.  He tries to educate his clients so they don’t HAVE to come back.

He has one problem however.  He’s practically invisible on Google.  His office is just down the street from me, and if I Google “chiropractor Grand Junction,” not only is he not on page one, he’s also not on the full view on Google maps (see the screen capture below).

screen capture of local seo case study applied chiropractic

A Heart to Heart SEO Conversation with Dr. Foote

Picture of Thomas Foote of Applied Chiropractic Health Center

Dr. Tom Foote is an expert in chiropractic, not SEO. How is he supposed to get Google to notice his practice?

I finally decided to have a heart to heart with Dr. Foote.   He asked me to take a look at his situation, so I did.  When I spoke to him again, and started to explain all of the factors that were dragging his business down, he looked confused, then overwhelmed, then incredulous.

I agreed to give him some guidance in turning this situation around and capturing a little of Google’s love and attention.  (Well, ok, just a little attention would be nice!)  As I left his office that day I thought about how many businesses in a similar situation don’t even know where to begin.

Is There Hope?

There are many factors that affect search.  So many in fact that a bit of research will leave a business person or a traditional marketer wanting to quit before they even get started. However it IS possible to identify those 20% of factors that give you 80% of the benefit of SEO.

So, at Horizon we are beefing up our SEO training program.  First we released our practical, common sense video course called Real World SEO Essentials.  Now we are planning on rolling out a regular series of free SEO training webinars.

Our First, Free SEO Training Webinar

Our first webinar will debut on Thursday, March 9th, 2017 at 11 a.m. Pacific Time (2 p.m. Eastern).

Number of Attendees is Limited – Click here to Save Your Seat

It’s free and I plan on identifying the same “invisibility” problem facing many business people just like Dr. Foote, plus, I’ll go beyond that, and in a special 2nd bonus session on March 16th, I’ll show you what you can realistically do to improve your situation in a simple, step by step process.

There will even be a Q&A session after I go through the materials I have to present to you.

This webinar will be held in business English, with no techno-babble permitted.  It’s not designed for SEO experts, it’s designed for you!  Join us now.  This link gives you more details about what will be covered.  And if think you might not be able to make that date or time, sign up anyway and you’ll be eligible to view the recording of the webinar.

Don’t settle for invisibility any longer!  Sign up right now before you forget.  The number of spots at this seminar is limited.

 

Using Google’s Search Location Setting. Buyer Beware!

Personalization and Localization of Search

Location marker illustrating local searchOver the years we’ve noticed increasing personalization of search. This is the practice followed by search engines of providing one set of search results to one searcher and a different set to another searcher even though they are entering the exact same search query.

Related to personalization is localization. I normally lump localization of search and personalization of search in the same category because they both do the same thing: customize search results to better fit the intent of the individual searcher.

Whenever you perform a search, you are connecting to the Internet using an I.P. Address, or number. This is a unique number that identifies your Internet connection. I.P. numbers are typically identifiable in general geographic locales. For example if I connect to the Internet here in my office in Grand Junction, Colorado and do a search on Google, even though Google can’t see who I am, they can see that my I.P. number is based in Grand Junction.  This allows Google to display search results that take into account my searching location. Google will favor, sometimes strongly, Grand Junction business websites based on my location.

This presents a bit of a challenge for an Internet professional such as myself, since I work with businesses all over the country and I need to see how well they rank for a Google search.

In the past the Google search location settings have come to my rescue. I can conduct a search, click on “Search Tools,” and set my location to “Las Vegas NV,” for example. (See screen capture below)

screen shot example of using search tools for location override

Search Location Override Isn’t What it Used to Be

But this method is no longer effective for me, because it appears that Google is displaying a different set of results based on whether I specify my search location or let them determine it automatically from my i.p. number.

This creates a problem for a business owner or marketing professional who is wondering just how visible their company website is on a Google search within a particular geographic region, especially if they are not physically in the area they are checking.

Let’s look at the following example, based on one of our own clients. The client in question is the dominant mover in the Las Vegas market, Move 4 Less. Move 4 Less is a local Las Vegas company that regularly beats out national competitors in search results. If I run a search for “Moving Companies” from my Western Colorado location with my search tools set to “Las Vegas Nevada,” here’s what I will see:

Example of search on Google from Grand Junction

Our client shows below the 7-pack, way below the fold in my Colorado search, even thought I’ve specified a location of Las Vegas NV.

 

A Physical Search in Las Vegas is Dramatically Different

Here’s the same search conducted by my colleague Matt from his desktop in Las Vegas.  Note how our client is showing up smack in the middle of the local results (the so-called 7-pack), which is far higher on the page:

from_las_vegas_user_matt_campbell_location_not-set2

 

What Takes Priority in Google’s World?

The physical location is not trumping the location setting in Google Search tools, it appears to be the other way around.  The Search tools setting is actually over-riding the results given by a plain-vanilla search conducted in the physical region.  How do I know?  Note this last screen shot.  It is the same search done from the Las Vegas location, but with the Search tools setting set to “Las Vegas.”  Here the geographic data is trumped and distorted in a very unpredictable way, showing a set of results identical to those I got in Colorado:

 

 

screen capture showing Google search with location hard coded

Search setting trumps physical location. But why it produces the results it does is anyone’s guess.

Conclusion

The take away from all of this is simple: don’t trust your own searches – or even your own eyeballs – when it comes to evaluating how visible your Website is in Google searches.  Many businesses obsess over “Googling” their “money” keyword terms, but this is such an imperfect way to measure it’s becoming almost useless.  There are better ways to determine visibility in Google search results, but I’ll leave those for another post.

(Or, if you can’t wait for that future post, either hire Horizon Web Marketing to do some consulting for you, or sign up for one of the SEO workshops that I’ll be teaching in Las Vegas this year.)