Google Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Google Reviews drive local search and online branding more than almost any other ranking factor. Most plumbing professionals have some notion of the impact reviews have on their business. However, most don’t fully understand how to effectively collect and manage their client feedback.

Even though COVID-19 halted the production of new Google Reviews, you’ll need to have a plan in motion once they return. To help guide your plumbing company toward stronger brand growth, we’ve created a quick how-to for gathering, managing, and protecting your client feedback. These reviews aren’t going to collect themselves!

Key Takeaways for Plumbing Professionals

  • Google Reviews are the most visible form of feedback.
  • They directly affect rankability for local search results.
  • Google Reviews are best earned right after a successful service visit.
  • Negative reviews are opportunities to showcase your customer service prowess.
  • Fake reviews are not worth it. They’ve killed many businesses.

Understanding Google Reviews

Tied directly to your company’s Google My Business listing, Google Reviews represent your brand’s overall service quality to the entire local search community. Homeowners (and/or commercial clients) can leave a rating by directly searching your business name and submitting a review in the knowledge graph located on the right hand side of the screen. On mobile devices, the review tab on your listing houses the collection and submission area for new client ratings.

There are a few crucial truths you’ll need to when it comes to Google Reviews and their uses.

They are Necessary for SEO

Absolutely¬†essential. To Google, these reviews provide undeniable proof that your business is both active and trustworthy. That means they can depend on your listing, and send more traffic your way by ranking up your website. That’s why many of the top listings on local map packs, some of the best traffic earners, feature companies with dozens (even hundreds) of Google Reviews!

That makes sense, because those reviews represent activity tied directly to your GMB account. Your GMB heavily influences local search results. If you want to win those premium map pack placements, you’ll need to consistently gather reviews on a job by job basis. By the way, if you want more detail about local map packs and optimizing for them, be sure to check out our video guide on Search Marketing, which covers the 3 major aspects of a search engine results page.

They’re Crucial for Sales

Even back in 2015, Pew Research studies showed that at least half of all Americans consider online reviews prior to making a purchase. Five years later, that number continues to climb. That’s because reviews are essentially personal recommendations from other consumers, less biased than the word of the associated business. Even with essential services like plumbing, reviews can make or break a purchase decision.

It’s not enough to gather one or two. Fresh reviews, at least in the mind of local homeowners, provide the most dependable representation of your service quality. The more, the better! After all, don’t you consider reviews on your key purchase decisions?

They Won’t Collect Themselves

Did you know that the vast majority of plumbing clients never leave a review, positive or negative? In fact, a business could consider themselves luck if even one in ten of their clients remember to leave a rating. On the other hand, most plumbing clients would be more than happy to provide a review when asked. According to a study covered by Search Engine Land:

“…if asked, approximately 71 percent of consumers will leave a review for a business.”

Those are good odds! Just imagine how many reviews you could collect in a given year if even half that percentage left them when asked. All you have to do is ask. Add in a geotagging review software (like BrandREVU), and you’ve got the makings of an outrageous improvement in local search rankings! This, of course, could mean significantly more revenue for your business.

Responding to Negative Reviews

Now comes the unpleasant, but necessary side of reputation management: negative reviews. When an angry client leaves a disparaging rating on your GMB, it’s easy to take it personally. With a little ingenuity and a lot of patience however, you can turn negative reviews into unique branding opportunities. Master the art of turning a low rating into a customer service moment, and you’ll wow all your future prospects!

Keep Calm and Carry On

First of all, don’t sweat every negative review that shows up on your GMB. If you’ve been doing a good job providing exceptional service, odds are these negative reviews will be few and far between. Continue to gather positive feedback every time you finish a job by immediately ask your clients for reviews.

The more reviews you gather, the less impact those stinging complaints will have!

Respond to the Problem

Some complaints are legitimate, while others are simply caused by misunderstandings. Either way, it’s best to respond to complaints quickly and courteously. Politely ask the client to provide more information about the circumstances behind their poor service rating. Be sure to take the conversation offline. Email or direct phone calls work best.

Once you’ve identified the cause behind the complaint, consider what you can do to satisfy the unhappy client. For repair problems, that might mean scheduling a next day service visit. For pricing or payment issues, that might mean giving a discount. Obviously, you’ll want to find a solution that meets their needs without breaking the bank!

Finally, make sure the client is completely satisfied before moving on. When you’re confident they feel happy, ask them if they’d feel comfortable updating or deleting their review. Be sure to emphasize just how essential their review is to your business, and how you’d appreciate their help. Odds are, you’ll see a higher star rating soon and earn a happy long-term client for your trouble!

Dangers of Fake Reviews

Fake reviews are bad business, whether they come from Google Reviews or somewhere else. Yet they’ve been a growing concern across multiple industries these last few years. Tech giants, such as Amazon and Google, have done their best to lessen the impact of these fictional ratings, but high demand means that review-writing services still manage to thrive.

How do fake reviews threaten your business? Consider the viewpoints of both clients and Google.

From a Client’s Perspective

Trust is everything in business, especially when it comes to essential home services. If a consumer can’t trust that the reviews on your GMB account accurately represent your service quality, they’ll turn to other options¬†fast. So zealously guard your ratings from any sort of manipulation. If anyone suggests buying up reviews, don’t. It’s not worth the risk to your local search results.

Remember this: consumers understand if you don’t have a perfect 5-star rating. In fact, they may even prefer if your score is less than perfect, because it suggests your reviews are authentic! Just keep getting those new ratings.

From Google’s Perspective

A business caught with fake (purchased or incentivised) reviews creates risk for Google. After all, that company may be struggling for business or suffering from low service quality. Google takes risky company listings and ranks them on the backside of search results. At the very least, they could cancel any suspected reviews and remove them from your collection.

In worst case scenario, we’ve seen companies lose their GMB account overnight. That means no showing up for local-based searches. Worse yet, it means a tremendous loss of traffic and leads coming into your website. That’s an expensive mistake not worth making!

Closing Thoughts

As one of the most important factors affecting your local search ranking, Google Reviews deserve consistent attention. Collect them as often as you, immediately after service visits if possible. Not only does this protect and grow your brand, it promotes stronger results on Google Search. That’s easy money for your business.

If you’re looking to automate and empower your reviews process, talk with our team at Plumbing Webmasters. Each of our custom websites come with integrated review software, enabling you to automatically ask clients for reviews and post them on your website (and any citation sources you desire). We’ve helped plumbing companies, such as the Chattanooga Water Heater Co, dominate local map packs and earn premium leads in a matter of months.

To learn more about Google Reviews and our related services, call us at (877) 388-9884!

Additional Resources From Plumbing Webmasters

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Posted: | Updated: Mar 24, 2020 | Categories: Podcast |
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