Google has announced that its spam-recognizing algorithms will make more reviews visible on Google+ Local and will prevent fake reviews from being posted. This is good news for businesses that have lots of real, positive reviews. However, companies that are in the habit of posing fake reviews just to boost rankings or improve their reputation will need to take a second look at their strategies.
What the Announcement Includes
The announcement from Google does include a few specifics. It warns companies that post fake reviews, and includes some advice.
- Employees are not allowed to write reviews of their employers.
- Do not include URLs in reviews.
- Google does not remove negative reviews and does not work with companies who claim to be able to do so.
- Do not set up a kiosk at your business where customers can write a review. Instead, encourage them to write a review when they get home.
- Companies are not allowed to offer customers gift cards or discounts in exchange for reviews.
- People are not allowed to post reviews on the behalf of others (for example, do not enter reviews from surveys or comment cards into Google+ Local).
How to Use Google Reviews the Right Way
Cultivate Natural Reviews
First and foremost, your business needs to cultivate natural reviews. Provide good services and make your customers happy so they’ll want to recommend your business. Do not provide incentives in exchange for reviews.
Remind Your Customers
If your customers have positive experiences with your company they’ll likely just need a reminder to post a review. Email your customers or include a link to your review page in newsletters to make it easy and convenient for you customers to leave a review.
Take Your Reviews Seriously
Take both positive and negative reviews seriously. Thank your customers for positive reviews and for their suggestions and do what you can to make some of them a reality. When people in your market see that you value their opinion, they will be more likely to leave reviews and more likely to become brand advocates.
Google reviews can be a powerful way to enhance your business and reputation and, if used correctly, may help your search engine optimisation efforts.