Customer feedback can be nerve-wracking, especially when it is delivered online in the form of a Google review for all to read. Put the fear aside, and instead, recognize that reviews — both the good and the bad — build the public's trust in your business. How you respond to a Google review can be more impactful than the review itself.
Learning how to properly address good and bad reviews alike will go a long way toward helping your business thrive. This guide will teach you how to do exactly that.
Google Review Basics
Let’s start by looking at where your Google reviews are showing up.
When someone Googles your exact brand name, there’s a good chance your Google Maps listing is going to pop up in the search engine results page (SERP), like in the image below.
An abbreviated view of your Maps listing may also pop up on certain local searches in what we call the “local pack.”
While these examples are from a desktop, the experience is relatively similar on mobile devices.
Notice that in both those places, your Google review star rating shows up. When users click on these star ratings, they will be taken to a place where they can see all your reviews. Not only do people have the ability to see all your reviews, more importantly, they also have the ability to see all your replies to reviews.
These reviews act as social proof that your company provides the level of service that you say you do. They also have the ability to impact your search engine rankings and the decisions people make about buying your products or services.
Now that you know where they live and what they do. Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions people have about responding to Google reviews.
Can a Business Respond to a Google Review?
Absolutely! It’s even recommended as a best practice. Engaging with your customers when they share their feedback is a great way of showing potential customers that you value your clientele and their opinions.
Which Google Reviews Should you Respond to?
Every review on your Google My Business listing deserves a reply! This shows people that all customers are important to your business. Not just those throwing a fit. If your customers take the time to share their feedback – positive or negative – your business should have the courtesy of acknowledging it. After all, who doesn’t like to be acknowledged?
Can you Delete Bad Google Reviews?
Nope. Deleting a review is unfortunately not an option. If only it were so easy! Instead, you have three ways to get rid of a bad review:
- Turn it into a good review by addressing your customer’s issues head-on with exceptional customer service and compassion. If you can prove that you care about the reviewer, own up to mistakes that were made and offer them a high-quality solution, they might just end up feeling like they overreacted and change that one-star review into three or four-star review.
- Convince the person who wrote it to delete it. This is a long shot in most cases, but you never know unless you ask. If you wow the reviewer with your customer service like we just mentioned, they just might.
- Flag the review as inappropriate if it violates Google’s posting guidelines. If someone is using profane or derogatory language, talking off topic, threatening you, or using a fake profile, you can probably get it pulled. Refer to the posting guidelines for all the other reasons reviews can get deleted.
Now let’s take a look at best practices for replying to Google Reviews.
How to Reply to Google Reviews
- Be nice and don’t get personal.
- Keep it short and sweet.
- Thank your reviewers.
- Be a friend, not a salesperson.
At Pathfinder SEO, we break down how to respond to Google reviews into two categories: responses to positive reviews and responses to negative reviews.
How to Respond to Positive Google Reviews
Show your customers gratitude for their business and let them know that you value their opinion with this three step process:
1. Address Reviewers by Name
Have you ever heard the idea that a person’s name is the sweetest word in the world to them? It came from Dale Carengie’s book: How To Win Friends And Influence People. Apply this tidbit to your responses. Their name should be right there in their Google profile and using it is a great way to make your response feel personalized.
2. Appreciate Reviewers
There are two things you should overtly thank your reviewers for:
- Doing business with you.
- Taking the time to write a review.
Showing your appreciation is a great way to let them, and other potential customers, know you truly care.
3. Address Encourage Future Patronage
If someone is taking the time to share how much they love your business, you might have a brand advocate on your hands. Encourage them to share their experience with their friends outside of Google and keep coming back for more.
If only all reviews were positive. Your job would be easy. Unfortunately, that’s not the world most of us live in.
How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews
While your instincts might tell you to ignore negative reviews, call all your friends and request positive reviews to bury the negative one, or lash out at the customer for being a jerk, those instincts will betray you.
Curb your frustration and put on your cape because it’s time to be a customer service superhero.
1. Be Compassionate and Keep it Professional
Remember what Google said about “Be nice and don’t get personal”? We recommend you go beyond being nice and try out a touch of empathy or compassion. In fact, you should probably apply a large dose. Show your customers that you truly care about their feelings. And if you don’t actually care, that might be the reason you got a bad review in the first place.
That part about not getting personal is important, too. Don’t sink to the level of a customer who is being flat out rude. Show you have integrity by keeping things professional and solution oriented.
2. Own up to Missteps and Apologize
Things go wrong. It’s part of life.
Explain why things may have gone wrong and the reason they went a certain way. A bit of internal investigation might come in handy before writing your response. Then, empathize with the reviewer and offer a sincere apology.
That being said, there’s no need to be a total pushover. If the reviewer is saying something that just isn’t true, politely say why it isn’t, and move on.
3. Offer High-Quality Solutions
If you’ve used the first two parts of this step, you will hopefully be on better footing with your customer.
Publicly offer them some solutions in your reply and give them the ability to contact your business privately to explore other options. Keep in mind that the public response is key. You want to show your customers that you are willing to do what it takes to resolve grievances or make good on your mistakes.
Where to Reply to a Google Review?
Now that you know how to reply to Google Reviews, here’s where you do it on your desktop or mobile device.Now that you know how to reply to Google Reviews, here’s where you do it on your desktop or mobile device.
Reply to Google Reviews on a Desktop
- Navigate to https://www.google.com/business/ in your browser and login in the top right corner where it says Sign in.
- If Google prompts you to add a business with “What’s the name of your Business” click on My Business next to the Google logo in the top left corner and you will be taken to your dashboard if you have a single business.
- If you are managing multiple businesses in Google My Business, you will need to select the business you want respond to reviews for.
- Once on your dashboard, click on manage reviews in the dash or reviews in the left hand navigation. You will then be shown all your reviews.
- Click reply on all those that have not been replied to and follow the response guidelines above.
Reply to Google Reviews on a Mobile Device
Reply in the Google My Business App on a mobile device.
Preventing Negative Google Reviews
Have you ever noticed that there are companies on Google with hundreds of five-star reviews and no (or very few) one-star reviews? The answer to the question “How do you prevent negative Google reviews?” is simple: great customer service.
Great customer service is a great prophylactic against negative Google reviews. If you are getting a lot of negative reviews, you likely have issues with your products, services, or the way your business is handling complaints. Use those reviews to inform opportunities for improvement internally and then enact those improvements to prevent negative reviews in the future.
How to Get More Positive Google Reviews?
Great Google reviews can be surprisingly easy to come by when you do these two things:
- Offer your customers the best experience possible. Make it easy for them to want to give you an amazing Google review.
- Create a culture within your company that celebrates positive Google Reviews. You would be surprised just how easy it is to do.
That first part is up to you. Here's how you do that second part.
Train Your Staff
Whether your business has a service area or a physical location, you should train your staff to ask for Google reviews when they receive positive feedback from customers.
Train them to say something like:
“That is incredibly kind feedback. Thank you! This might be a big ask, but is there any chance I can convince you to share that on our Google Maps profile? It would help me, and our business, out a ton!”
Make it Easy for People
Leaving a review can feel like a big ask of some customers. Make it easy by giving them a direct link to where they can review your business. There’s a free Google Chrome extension called GatherUp that makes this easy.
Or, you can look at your Google My Business listing, click on write a review, and copy the URL that appears when you are looking at the review dialogue. Toss that long URL in a link shortener like bit.ly and give it out to your customers.
You now have all the tools you need to properly respond to all the Google reviews your business gets. However, prevention is the best medicine. Make sure you are offering your customers the best experience possible online and offline, and hopefully, you will only be replying to positive reviews for the foreseeable future.
Erik loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. In his role as an SEO coach, he guides Pathfinder SEO customers through the SEO process on a daily basis, giving them helpful tips, instruction, and advice along the way.