As a business owner, it is important for you to monitor and maintain your online reputation. As mobile devices become more widely used, people have an easier time to share their experiences with the online community. Monitoring your business’s reputation insures that you are able to respond to positive and negative feedback. When someone sees your responses, that person knows you care about what your customers say and you are willing to provide good customer service on and off line.
Owners of Google Places listings can respond to their business reviews on the dashboard of their listing. Interacting with your customers in this forum helps develop your online reputation by:
- Increasing your brand awareness,
- Helping to connect to your online following,
- Giving you a chance to refute any negative reviews,
- Showing your future customers that you are engaged with your online presence, and
- Building relationships with your current and future customers.
As a business owner of a verified listing, you can respond to posted reviews. If you haven’t claimed your listing, it is important to do so. Your Google listing will have reviews shared on Google and reviews shared around the web. Although Google pulls these reviews as relevant information about your business, you cannot respond to these third-party reviews in the Google dashboard.
How to Respond to a Google Review
To respond to a Google review, follow these steps.
- Sign in to your Google Account.
- Navigate to your Google + Page.
- Scroll down the section marked “Reviews”.
- Click the button marked “Respond” to write your response.
- After you have proofed your response, click the Publish button.
If you have not claimed your listing, you will not see the Response button. You will need to claim your listing in order to respond.
Tips to Responding
When replying to your customers, it is helpful to remember these Google guidelines:
- Be nice – when dealing with happy and frustrated customers, it is important to be polite. Not only will these customers read your response, but potential customers will as well. When dealing with a frustrated customer, a polite response will go a long way to ending with a positive result.
- Don’t get personal – the reviews are about your business and your brand, not about you personally. Although you are the author of the written response, the business name will be associated with whatever your write. A polite, positive response insures that your response stays professional.
- Feedback is helpful – whether the feedback is positive or negative, the feedback will be helpful to your business. Because the review’s author took the time to write it, please know that they care deeply about what they are saying. Thanking the writer for providing the feedback that has made a change in your business practice also shows that you care about your online reputation.
- Keep it short and sweet – A short, polite response is a more useful response. A person’s attention span online is shorter than you think. A clear, concise response will get your point across without bogging down the reader.
- Thank your reviewers – responding to both happy and frustrated customers will show that you care about your brand.
- Be a friend, not a salesperson – avoid providing incentives or advertising in this forum. When you have something new or a tip to share with your review writers, then it is acceptable to do so.
Flagging a Review as Inappropriate
We’re all aware that dishonest people have access to the Internet, too. When you feel someone has written an inappropriate review about your business, you can flag it as inappropriate. Your flagged review will go into the queue to be reviewed. Google sees this forum as a place where people can share positive and negative comments about a business. They want to provide searchers the most relevant information as possible and feel that the system is in place to be neutral and to protect both business owners and consumers. Google will check to determine if the flagged message violates the review guidelines. Google will not arbitrate disputes.
Flagged reviews will be removed if they fall under one or more of the following categories:
- Inappropriate content
- Content with links to unlawful content
- Content in violation of Google’s content policy
- Plagiarized content
- Advertising and spam
- Reviews written for advertising purposes
- Reviews posted in multiple places
- Fake reviews written to lower or boost ratings
- Reviews with phone numbers or links to other sites
- Off-topic reviews
- Reviews posted based on someone else’s experience
- Off-topic reviews
<li-Reviews not about the business
- Reviews with social or political commentary
- Conflict of Interest
- Reviews from employees or owner of the business
- Responses that offer money or products for reviews
- Reviews written by someone who has been paid to do so
- Businesses should not set up review tables in the business
- Reviewers who have been coerced into writing a false review or who are not truthful
After you have gotten Google reviews and responded to them, it is important that you do not alter or duplicate these reviews in any way. For example, copying and pasting a Google review and adding it to your website is considered duplicate content. With the recent algorithm changes, Google now actively seeks out duplicate content and does not want this content on their site. Google will take the review down from their product to insure that there is no duplicate content.
When You Want Them, Ask.
The best method for increasing your reviews on Google is to ask. Make it a habit for your staff to remind your customers to provide their feedback. After you’ve gotten your reviews going, it’s always a good idea to respond to these reviews in your verified Google Places listing. Taking your time to develop your online reputation will help to grow your business, provide valuable insight, and compete effectively against your competition.