Having good quality reviews on your Google+ Local page (i.e., Place page) not only improves your ability to convert prospective customers, but can affect your local search ranking. Most customers won't know to leave you a Google Places review, so it is important to promote or actively encourage customers to give honest reviews. A few months ago we covered some of the lesser known but important Google reviewing building tips.
Today, I want to introduce both a review card template and sample email you can use to help build valuable customer reviews. But first, there are a few important things to consider before implementing a review building strategy:
1. Reviewers must have a Google Plus account
Google Plus Local pages require that reviewers have a Google Plus account. It is therefore much easier to get Google reviews from customers with existing Gmail accounts (enabling Google Plus from a Gmail account takes less than a minute).
2. Shorten your Google Plus page URL
Have you ever tried transcribing a 60+ character URL? Do your customers a favor and tee up an easy to read URL. Especially if you're printing it on a review card.
When you visit your Google Plus public page, the URL & number will look like this:
Which can be manually shortened to: https://plus.google.com/100816215283939830437/
But this long link is still not practical for marketing, so I suggest using the Google URL shortener (http://goo.gl/) to reduce it down to something more manageable like:
http://goo.gl/owZw7J -- or -- goo.gl/owZw7J
or even better, use http://gplus.to/ to customize your page's link so it appears with your business name. Using this tool, here’s what a short URL link to our company page on Google Plus looks like:
3. Provide review options beyond Google
Spread your customer reviews out. The ideal review building strategy includes guiding reviewers to other popular review sites as well. It really depends on what they are familiar with. So you can leave it up to the customer to choose, but don’t give them too many options. Three options seems like a popular choice, while providing more than five options could be pushing it.
Tip: If you own a restaurant or bar, you may also want to encourage customers to share photos. Be sure to provide your business’s name, location and phone number on the review card.
Printable business-card size review card template
You can access a modifiable copy of the template I created here (editable PDF).
The above downloadable card design is very basic, so feel free to use these elements to create your own snazzy version with company logo and all. Depending on where you have profiles and your preferences, you can swap icons. While a Facebook "like" or Foursquare "tip" or check-in may not technically be reviews, these are valuable social signals that Google and other search engines pick up on. Other runners up for suggested places to review will depend on your business type, but Citysearch, Angie's List, TripAdvisor and EZlocal (of course) are all good ones as well.
This is a standard business card size 3.54"x1.97" so it should be convenient to hand out and cheap to print.
Below is a simple email example you can use to encourage reviews from satisfied customers. I encourage you to customize it as you see fit. Be sure to add links, but do not offer incentives for reviews (Google prohibits this tactic).
If you are satisfied with the services you have received, please take a minute and leave us a review on one of the following websites. We greatly appreciate any feedback we get!
- Google Places (if you have a Gmail account):
Tip: You can also segment your email lists, for example, by sending Google-only review requests to Gmail accounts.
From our experience, noticeable ranking impact of your Google local listing usually occurs after reaching 10 reviews - a key factor being that overall sentiment leans positive. Some business types are more affected than others.
These are just some of the many tools that should be considered when putting together a comprehensive customer review building strategy. Using all available tools can help ensure you are maximizing your ability to manage your online reputation and increase your online visibility.