The seven brutal truths about Google reviews and why they are so important… sounds very doomsday and apocalyptic, doesn’t it? But we promise, there’s going to be some really actionable, helpful advice for you and your business!
Karl Schwantes runs a family business, Xennox Diamonds, that has been operating for the last 46 years. He is a total badass in business and has well and truly earned his stripes.
Everything in the Xennox Diamonds world was ticking along nicely until the pandemic hit and changed everything as most of their sales were engagement and wedding rings! They lost pretty much 97% of their revenue for eight weeks.
Karl can honestly say at that time, he was pretty clueless as to exactly where his leads were coming from. But what he found really shocked him.
At the start of the pandemic, Xennox Diamonds were getting 25% of their sales from one lead source and that was a Google review. Their Google review strategy had started five years prior, when Karl wanted to replicate the American tipping system. Over there, you know you’ve done a great job because you get a great tip. Google reviews became Xennox Diamonds’ tip.
Karl was saying to his team, “I want you to go out there and give a five star worthy experience” and started to see the reviews just ticking up and ticking up. That was the precipice for where he has ended up now, as the Founder and Director of a company called My 5 Star Reviews!
We chatted to him about what he has learnt over the last couple of years about Google reviews and how important they really are to your business.
Why 5 Star Google Reviews Are King
Remember back in the day when you used to spend anywhere between $3,000 and $15,000 on print ads in the Yellow Pages or industry magazines, with no real idea of your ROI?
The great thing about Google reviews is that for a business like Xennox Diamonds, they can generate more than $1m in top line revenue with a $0 cost ad spend. Karl has stopped spending any money on Google ads, Facebook ads and print ads.
He has yet to find a form of marketing that has a better ROI than Google reviews as we are really moving into this reputation style marketing space in 2022.
The current trend shows not only are more and more people actually reading reviews, but more and more people are also writing reviews.
So, it’s become socially acceptable now to read online reviews. That’s how we look for things, we evaluate the unpaid feedback because research shows that 83% of people don’t trust mainstream ads. Google reviews are so important because an independent review is trusted like a recommendation from a personal friend or family member.
How To Increase Google Reviews
Xennox Diamonds currently has 855 Google reviews and started actively trying to gather them about five years ago. Like with many things – the first hundred reviews are always the hardest.
Once you understand the process, the second hundred come a lot faster. And no one ever gets to that on their own. You need a team. As the business owner, if you are the only one who’s chasing those reviews, it becomes draining. So you need to train your team and everybody in the business needs to be doing it.
We see a lot of limiting beliefs when it comes to Google reviews and a lot of people don’t think they are as important as they truly are.
If you have a really low client volume and only serve one client a week, it can be hard to imagine that a few Google reviews will make much difference to your business.
You might think you can only get one Google review from each client or a single transaction. But in many businesses you typically get two, sometimes three Google reviews from one sale.
What Karl does with Xennox Diamonds and what we do here at Five by Five is aim for one to three Google reviews every single week.
If you do that consistently over time, in a year you’ll have a hundred reviews, thereabouts, maybe even faster. Year two, you’ve got 300 and it just keeps snowballing from there!
The Seven Brutal Truths about How Google Reviews Work
1. If you don't ask, you won't receive.
The truth is, about 73% of clients will leave a review if you simply ask. Research actually shows that those numbers go up if they know that you’re a local, family owned business because since COVID, people really want to support local.
Sometimes people think that you can only ask for a review once you’ve done a full and remarkable solution.
Take Five by Five for example, when we present our final proposal to potential clients, we go out of our way to deliver phenomenal value, provide an experience and go above and beyond what any other person’s willing to do.
The truth is we can still ask for a Google review, even if they haven’t actually become a client based purely on our quoting and strategy phase. You should even be asking your partners and suppliers, who can vouch for your services or products!
2. Doing the right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.
A lot of the time we find businesses are asking people for Google reviews at the wrong time!
Map out your customer experience and each step of your delivery process, finding the time when the client is at their happiest. You are looking for ‘the happiness window’.
Even if your business involves something not so nice, like putting a puppy down. What you would do is take some photos and some mementos before the passing, and then send that to the client one to two weeks after like a nice check in. It’s that personal touch that makes all the difference.
Then you would do a phone follow up, that’s when you would ask for the all important Google review.
3. Having less than 74 Google reviews means you are below average.
This was a study done from 2.4 million local listings over 30 business categories and what they found was that the average business on Google had about 74 Google reviews. So, if you are below that, then you are considered below average.
No one wants to be below average. That’s why 100 reviews should be the first benchmark you are aiming for! 100 Google reviews will start to generate a new lead every three to four weeks.
4. Not all Google reviews are created equal.
There’s actually five different levels of a Google review and most businesses are only hitting the bottom two – which is either a 5 star review with no comment or a simple one liner.
Once you get a level five, 5 star review, you’ve got geotag images and a detailed description talking about the experience and the team members and it has your keywords in there. So all of these things are really super vital.
If you had 50 of those kinds of reviews, that would be better than just having 100 level one reviews.
5. Having the most Google reviews doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be sitting in the #1 position.
What we’re talking about here is the local map area of the Google search results.
When you go Google search something, at the very top you’ve got your paid ads, then underneath that you’ve got your local search map which is the top three local listings, and then underneath that is all of the organic results driven by SEO.
You might have 60 reviews and but the business in the number one position on Google maps has only 20. Why?
The truth is that Google takes into account so many other things like consistent behaviour, an optimised profile, regular posting, and regular Google reviews.
You might have 60 reviews, but the last one that you had done was was six months ago, that’s not going be as relevant in Google’s mind as a company that’s got one to three Google reviews coming through every week.
6. Having Google reviews older than three months, makes them irrelevant.
We keep referring to research but there’s some really great companies out there like White Spark who are constantly doing this research and what they found was that 85% of clients would discount reviews that were older than three months.
And of those 85%, 40% said that they wouldn’t even consider reviews if they were older than two weeks! So again, it’s so important to make sure that you are getting these regular reviews coming through on a constant basis.
Some of the stats say that people read between five and ten Google reviews and if the last review was three or four months ago, you’ve potentially lost a sale!
So all of the importance of Google reviews is not only from the algorithm perspective but from a psychological perspective too.
7. Your most recent review doesn’t show up first.
Google automatically prioritises the search aspect of Google reviews by most relevant, not by most recent.
So, even if you’re doing the right things now and getting one review every week or thereabouts, if the most relevant reviews that are showing up are not recent, that’s automatically going to devalue what you’re doing.
Quite often, one of the most relevant reviews is not a great review, it’s a one star or a three star review.
But it’s understanding that you just need to be consistent, you can’t be complacent. You have to be relentless in your stand for the customer journey and the experience and not accept anything that’s less than a 5 star review.
If you are struggling with understanding why Google Reviews are so important then get in touch with us today!
Not only can we put you in touch with Google Review experts like Karl, we can create the perfect website that ticks all the boxes needed for raving Google reviews and to be found organically too.
Team up with us to get the most out of your website and Google reviews and see how we can help you set up a client experience worthy of 5 star Google reviews!