Google My Business Reviews A Complete Guide (1)

Google My Business Reviews: A Complete Guide

If you own or manage any kind of local business then the chances are you already know of Google My Business. The Google reviews platform is an essential digital tool for any local business to ensure you appear in Google search rankings.

Why is Google My Business important for local businesses? Statistics from Google show Where to buy” + “near me” search queries have grown by over 200% in the past two years.

With more consumers turning to Google for finding local businesses it’s more important than ever to start a Google My Business profile and start earning reviews.

Google Local Search
An example local search using Google.

We wrote this guide for local businesses to better understand Google My Business reviews, the impact they have and how to handle them. So read on to become a local Google reviews expert…

Important Google My Business review stats

There’s plenty of review websites online nowadays. Yelp, TripAdvior and Facebook are just a few. In 2014, Google joined the crew with their own reviews platform, Google My Business. Over the past several years GMB has become more prominent thanks to the integration of Google reviews with search results. This means if somebody performs a search for ‘cafes near me‘, they are likely to see a list of cafes alongside their reviews.

Recent studies have shown the average business is found in over one thousand searches per month. Why else should you be leveraging Google reviews though?

You are more likely to appear in Google search results boosting your online visibility to potential new customers

There is a better chance of you being higher in search results, particularly for ‘near me’ local searches – Google

5% of Google My Business listing views result in a website click, call, or direct request – SearchEngineJournal

At the end of 2018 direct searches grew by 38%, while GMB listings grew from website clicks by 29% – Flyingvgroup

Will reviews automatically appear in Google Searches?

So you have just finished setting up your Google My Business profile and got your first couple of review. You do a search for your business but notice the reviews are not showing, what gives? Don’t panic.
  • It may take a short while for Google to pull through and index your reviews in search rankings.
  • You will need at least 4 or 5 reviews as a minimum for your business.
  • You might notice reviews appearing but you don’t have a full star rating. Give it some time and try to collect some more reviews so Google can determine an ‘average’ star rating for your business

Google review notifications

To help your business track reviews Google provides useful review alert emails for every time you receive a new review. The email itself is fairly simple and includes all the information you would to know including;

  • Reviewer name
  • Star rating
  • Review text
  • A direct link to the review
google review alert
Google review email alert

It is possible to turn these notifications off but we would recommend keeping them on so you can respond to each review much faster. If you do want to turn off these alerts you can do so in your Google My Business profile

If your Google My Business profile is doing really well you may also receive another type of Google notification. Google sends out alert emails if your review are attracting a lot of views and likes. If you get one of these notifications then you’re on the right track! The more people reading your reviews and liking them is a sign they’re finding your business easier and more likely to visit you in person. 

Google reviews no longer showing?

If you find you no longer can see some or all of your google reviews don’t panic. It might mean you need to double check a few GMB settings. Take a look at some of the potential reasons below.

Make sure your GMB profile is fully verified. Reviews will not show if you are not verified so it’s the most obvious reason they might not show. It can take up to 2-3 weeks to complete this process so make sure you get started asap!

Clear your cache. This is perhaps a really obvious solution but it could be that a review is showing but your cache is not updated for it to appear in your browser. Try force clearing your browser cache and try loading your reviews again. Clearing your cache will differ depending on your browser, this useful site will help you with the process.

The user deleted their review. All reviewers can delete their reviews at any time. It is therefore possible that the user removed their review or they requested their Google account to be fully deleted.

Google removed reviews. Other than the original poster the only people who can remove Google reviews is Google themselves. It is possible that they removed one or multiple reviews from your profile for different reasons.

  •  It was caught by Google’s review filter and deemed to be fake or otherwise suspicious. This might be because the IP matches your business or you received multiple reviews in a very short time.
  • The review contained a URL. Reviews are not allowed to include links to other websites.
  • The review included strong language or other harsh words that wouldn’t be classified as family friendly.

If you find a review has been removed it is extremely unlikely it will appear again. The best strategy is to move on and try to get new reviews for your business.

5 star Google reviews but have a lower rating overall?

It is possible that you have all 5-star reviews on your Google My Business profile, yet when your business shows up in map results or the knowledge panel your overall rating is lower. For example you might expect to see a total review rating of 5 but instead see a 4.7 or 4.8. What is happening? Google doesn’t use average review rating for your overall Google My Business score. Google has a help page that explains this. In short;
Your score is calculated from user ratings and a variety of other signals to ensure that the overall score best reflects the quality of the establishment.
It is a vague answer but the use of the words ‘other signals’ suggests it is not so straight forward. Many search professionals argue that Google calculates the total average by predicting future results. That isn’t to say you will necessarily get a bad review in the future. It is most likely because Google wants to differ total ratings for businesses that have only a handful of 5-star ratings versus another business who has hundreds of 5-star ratings. Therefore, ensuring you have a steady stream of new reviews over time should be a key focus to increase the likelihood of your overall GMB profile score being higher.

Responding to Google reviews

The importance of responding to reviews is crucial to maintain a strong review profile and maximise your online reputation. We wrote a blog post on how to respond to negative reviews but responding to positive reviews is equally as important. Responding publicly to user reviews shows potential customers that you care about business feedback, both good and bad. A study from Cornell University found that engaging with reviews positively impacts how consumers view your business. You should therefore thank each positive reviewer for taking the time to leave a review for your business. If you’re specifically responding to a negative review then the number one rule is to not take it personally. Stay professional and be transparent about potential mistakes. No business is perfect all the time and providing a nicely worded response shows you are humble and want to improve.

Removing Google Reviews

Removing a Google review is a question that is often asked by business owners because they think a review may be fake or not legitimate. Perhaps you have been the victim of a competitor trying to bring down your total rating? The search giant does the best they can to filter out suspicious reviews but it’s always possible some will make it public. Obviously you don’t want these types of reviews shown on your GMB profile so what can you do to remove it?

The reality is that you will find it extremely difficult to remove a Google review. It will be far easier if you can respond to the review and try to win over the original reviewer so they edit the review to a more positive one or delete it completely.

If a review seems fake the first thing you can do is flag it to Google.

  1. Sign into your GMB profile
  2. Navigate to the reviews area
  3. Find the review you want to flag and click ‘flag as inappropriate

If Google agrees then the review will be removed but it must go against one of the justifications in Google’s review policy. You should never flag a review just because you disagree with it.

Tip: Some businesses have reported that it may be possible to expedite the removal request by reaching out directly to the Google My Business folks through a DM on twitter. Do not expect a fast response though!

The importance of a Google My Business reviews strategy

As a business it is getting increasingly hard to ignore Google reviews. Potential customers are using these reviews more and more to find which business to choose. Having a Google reviews strategy for your business will ensure you maximise the outcome from the platform and in turn get more customers for your business.

You do not need to have a complicated Google reviews strategy. It could be as simple as ensuring you respond to every single review left for your business. You may want to take it a step further though by offering in-store visitors discounts as an incentive for leaving a Google review. A small change like this can have a huge positive impact on your overall rating.

At Repuzen we know getting a review strategy in place can take time. Our Get Reviews platform makes it easy to start building reviews on sites like Google with just a few clicks. You can signup for free below.

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