Business, customers and Google reviews

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Imagine a space where millions of Internet users share their comments on businesses, products and services. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? For years now, the functionality has been available through Google in the form of a rating system, which is a part of business listings and the Google Maps service.

My Google reviews matter. Do yours?

To fully appreciate what Google reviews are, we should first get acquainted with another service, namely Google My Business. This business oriented service allows users to create a business listing online. As the listing itself is associated with a specific physical address, it appears on Google Maps, too. 

What is more, the listing service is completely free of charge. Currently, you can hardly imagine running a business without the benefit of a free listing service. This is a perfect means of promoting one’s business, especially if you rely on advertising locally.

Consumers, on the other hand, incessantly search for information on products and services. Google reviews were created with consumers in mind to allow them to rate businesses by awarding 1 to 5 stars and leaving a comment. 

Such an opinion is posted on a company’s listing and remains publicly available. Furthermore, each review carries the same weight, irrespective of who wrote it. Google makes no distinction there.

Mind you, listing owners can respond to the comments, which provides them with an opportunity to address criticisms or appreciate praise. Sadly, there still are businesses that fail to exploit this option to easily engage with their customers and show that they do care.

What else is there to know about Google reviews?

It was the web that provided us with an unprecedented degree of freedom in expressing our opinions, found for example in Google reviews. This unique medium enabled us to create a straightforward system of recommendations. These have become a key element in, what is broadly termed, digital marketing for many businesses.

We let recommendations steer our choices on everyday basis. Surely, we have each of us asked people we trust to refer us to a dependable specialist in one field or another. To a degree, we believe what others say and find such opinions far more credible that sponsored adverts.

Taking it a step further, consequently, every aware business owner must recognize the importance of Google listings and reviews. To maximise the possibilities offered by the online listing service, you should get to know it from either side, after all, each business owner is also a consumer.

Google reviews for business owners

Positive online image is a prerequisite to increasing product and service sales. User recommendations and high average ranking will let you earn the trust of prospective customers.  Additionally, the ratings will effectively help you build your brand community. 

Google listings show immense potential, which is easily corroborated in research:

  • up to 93% consumers search for local businesses online, 
  • in 2020, 87% consumers read online reviews on local businesses,
  • only 48% consumers would consider employing the services of a company rated less than 4 stars.

Moreover, Google is acknowledged as the top most popular business rating service online.

93% is an overwhelming fraction, one which should leave you under no illusions about the fact that consumers do research their options before they commit to a purchase. Coupled with the fact that over 96% of users in Poland rely on Google searches the take-away couldn’t be clearer: positive reviews, which customers leave on your Google listing, are highly sought after.

Social proof and Google reviews

Did you know that uncertainty often drives people to copy the behaviour of a group? The phenomenon is referred to as social proof. The rule applies to business as well. Customers need not incline to your products immediately, however, if you back your offer with user recommendations, you can be fairly sure, they will take you up on it.

Currently, we lead quite a chunk of our lives online and that means that the web has become a primary source of information on products and services for your would-be customers. Google reviews and your business listing is where they will find that information.

Even if you allow for unverifiability of such online comments, still for thousands of customers these constitute an essential argument for or against choosing your business. Be mindful of your listing, interact with users to champion your brand.

Google reviews for consumers

Recently, the distance between consumers and brands has shrunk significantly. Internet has allowed us to express our opinions on products or services within minutes. What is more, such recommendations or negative feedback could impact purchase decisions of hundreds, if not thousands, of buyers. There is a reason why many online stores send post-purchase requests to rate transactions or products.

Remember, this type of activity is voluntary, yet, it could help to shape the market in a positive way. Regular customer ratings on products and services used is a convenient tool to, on the one hand, appreciate upstanding businesses owners and, on the other, to shun dishonest practices. 

Each user should bear in mind that by taking time to leave a comment or a simple rating they help other users. Recommendations, critique and queries are valuable sources of information for anyone involved in the purchasing chain.

Local guides — a community whose motivation never wanes

Another interesting feature are Local guides, which is a community created by Google. Anyone can join the Local guides, although, usually members recruit from the most avid Google Maps users, who eagerly rate and review.

Google continues to stimulate their growth rewarding members with activity points, for example for posting a review. The more points a user accumulates, the higher a level they reach and are entitled to receive new badges. Well, isn’t that a textbook example of a well-implemented gamification? As a result, Google is granted an uninhibited stream of personalized information, whereas consumers get a chance to participate in a galvanizing program.

Google reviews — needed and helpful

To sum up, irrespective of your role, a Google listing and comments section should capture your imagination. As a business owner you can explore information on how customers perceive your business and the products or services you offer. Whereas other Internet users could benefit immensely from reliable ratings left by other customers. 

The battle for visibility on the web is on and an optimised listing, high in positive feedback, might pivot its outcome – and determine who emerges victorious. Food for thought.