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Best Practices for Giving Google Reviews

As a marketer, I spend a lot of time talking with clients about getting and responding to Google reviews, especially those businesses who rely on search engines to drive the majority of their new business.

Awhile back I made the conscious decision to be more proactive and prolific when giving Google reviews to businesses that I patronize, each time considering how I would respond to my post if were the business owner. Along the way, Google has encouraged me by sharing stats and details about my efforts. Due to the significant number of reviews that I was providing, Google invited me to become a Google Local Guide, an experience I’ve blogged about previously.

Google rewards reviewers who contribute more – not just more reviews but more information in their reviews. When reviewing businesses it is best to not just give a star rating but explain why the business deserves the rating. Google prompts you with categories but is the narratives that they really seek and that most subsequent readers of your post appreciate. The longer the narrative and most personal you can make it, the better the review performs.

Still, you want to be mindful that behind the scenes there is a real business owner reading your reviews and taking them to heart, sometimes putting feedback towards process improvement and sometimes engaging with your post – and correcting you when you’re wrong.

I once posted about the cornmeal batter that I so enjoyed at a seafood spot and the owner corrected me, explaining that it was actually corn flour batter, an important fact for her chef and possibly for other diners with dietary restrictions.

There is also a bit of learned science behind the images that folks find most helpful. Pictures of food seem the easy choice, but it is the images I post of the premises, both inside and out, that perform the best. One more than one occasion I have posted images of the collection of board games (or what the Gen-Z folks call table games) at coffee and breweries we’ve visited. You’d be amazed at the number of views (110,246 and counting on one at The Board and Brew in College Park, MD)that pictures of seemingly mundane collections collect from folks obviously looking for a specific reason to patronize the spot.

It is because I am so intentional about what I post that I’m aggravated by reviewers who don’t follow the guidelines and misuse the platform, like ex-employees flaming past employers or, on one recent occasion, where we saw an individual with a personal beef against a client find and post erroneous and offensive material on their profile as a review.

One other area where I’ve seen reviewers use poor judgment when giving reviews is among those who are unhappy with the outcome of either a job interview or a cold call upon a business deciding to post low scores and disparaging remarks as a review. We had this happen most recently when an outbound salesman was dissatisfied by our disinterest in his services and subsequent termination of the call. His 1-star with no explanation quickly appeared on our profile. In best practice, I responded to the post with an apology and explanation. Upon closer inspection I found that we were not the first business for whom he’d applied a 1-star when dissatisfied, and the responses from other business owners was less polite than mine.

The rub for this gentleman (we’ll identify only as Michael M.) was that I know the Atlanta-based business for which he works and one of the owners personally and of course took the time to reach out and provide feedback about the instance. What’s worse, when he chooses to go looking for another job as an outbound salesperson, recruiters and hiring managers will be able to easily see his history of poor behavior with a simple background check of his social behavior.

All of that is to say, best practices for giving and receiving Google reviews are very much a two-way street. Walk carefully to maximize the positive exposure for your business and minimize any negativity associated with your personal and business profile. Do your best to provide honest and authentic feedback in a manner that could help the business as well as subsequent viewers and reviewers.

This post is courtesy of MMC Principal Jennifer Koon.

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