Online Reviews for Local Businesses: What Marketers Need to Know : Social Media Examiner

Do you own or manage a local business?

Are you leveraging the full power of online reviews?

To discover how to leverage online review services, I interview Martin Shervington.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode I interview Martin Shervington, one of the world’s leading experts on Google+ and Google for Business. As a trainer, speaker and consultant, he helps marketers understand how to best utilize Google’s services.

Martin will explore online reviews for local businesses.

You’ll discover how to get reviews for your business, as well as how to respond to negative reviews.

podcast 156 martin shervington online reviews

Listen as Martin Shervington shares what marketers need to know about online reviews for local businesses.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below.

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Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Online Reviews for Local Businesses

Google for business

In June 2014 Google launched Google My Business, which simplifies how people set up pages. Part of this is for local businesses, so they can appear on a map, get reviews and so on.

Google My Business

Google My Business simplifies how to set up pages for your business.

Martin has been doing research on this and says businesses are not quite connecting the dots on Google+ marketing and using this powerful tool. He says as of last year, only 37% of businesses had claimed their Google listing, 63% have not.

Listen to the show to discover more about Google My Business.

The impact of reviews

Martin has spoken to hundreds of businesses (owners and staff) about reviews. People use reviews as a socialized way to judge the businesses around them, which get more customers as a result of reviews.

For example, Martin shares, Tasty Thai in San Mateo can attribute thousands of dollars of revenue to one single positive Yelp review from a guy who had been to Thailand and loves their Thai food.

At the moment Yelp has a lot of people’s attention, and Martin hopes Google reviews will get to that level as well.

get reviews on google faq answer

Google provides an answer to FAQs for getting reviews on Google.

Reviews can bring tourists, new people and new business. The downside is there’s the potential for negative reviews.

“[Businesses have to have] good service, good product and sometimes be willing to say when you haven’t got it 100% right,” Martin says.

Listen to the show to hear about an amazing experience I had while traveling, based on a Yelp review.

Google listings

Martin explains how Google sometimes auto-generates a business listing, and a lot of people’s businesses are listed without them knowing about it.

To determine if your business has an auto-generated listing, Google your location to see if anything comes up. If it doesn’t, go to to set one up. If it is already set up, click where it says “claim this listing,” so you can control uploading photos, reply to posted reviews and more. When you set up a page on Google they verify it by phone or by mail.

There are two different types of local pages, Martin continues, a storefront and a service area. If you run your business from home, say you are a service area to hide your address.

Google+ business page product features

Once you have control of your business page, you can change your images, reply to reviews and more.

Once you’ve claimed your property or set up your page from scratch, there are several things you can do: change the profile image (which is the icon people see when you make comments or reply to reviews), change your cover photo, manage your photos, add what you do to the description area, post on that Google page, reply to reviews, share reviews and more.

You can even embed the best reviews on your website. This is how you take the social proof you get from reviews and spread it onto your website.

The Google My Business dashboard provides a higher-level frame-of-reference around the things that are connected to your business, such as analytics, your YouTube channel, the page insights and the Google+ page itself. The page analytics are not as complete as a full set of Google analytics, Martin adds.

Listen to the show to discover how Martin put a village on the map last year.

How to get customer reviews for your local business

There are lots of aspects to getting customer reviews. First, Martin addresses what you are not allowed to do. You are not allowed to offer incentives. For example, you can’t give out a coupon in exchange for a review on Google, Yelp or TripAdvisor.

On TripAdvisor and Google, the view currently is that you’re allowed to ask for reviews. If someone says, “Wow, that was an awesome meal,” you can say, “Hey, it would be lovely if you were to say that on Google or TripAdvisor.” Yelp discourages asking for reviews.

One thing Martin says has been working well is having a card with a QR code or url to give customers to lead them to where they can leave a review. The idea is to make it easy for them to review your business, especially since many people use their smartphone to post on the spot.

google review of brava's on a mobile phone

Most people deliver reviews from their mobile device. Image: Placeit.

Although it’s too early in Martin’s testing to give an authentic correlation between good reviews and more business, he says businesses love the attention they get from social proof. They believe reviews have more of an impact on getting customers than Facebook likes and Twitter and Google+ followers.

good reviews

Good reviews lead to more business.

Another thing Martin is split testing is the impact training the person who is giving the service has on getting a review from a customer.

Martin, who has a background and post grad degree in organizational psychology, decided to leave some people without training and to only give them cards and basic information. The ones he didn’t train found it very hard to ask for reviews, whereas the ones who knew the words to use, the approach to take and the trigger (as soon as a person says this, that’s your opportunity to start the conversation on reviews) were much more successful.

It’s that personal connection that the reviewer has with the staff member that makes the difference. If someone on staff is nervous about asking for reviews, suggest they start with the people who seem the friendliest and who are your regular customers.

Listen to the show to learn why it’s better to ask for a review than to simply put out cards with a review request.

How to respond to a bad review

There are at least two types of negative reviews. One is from a competitor who gives a one-star review in order to drag you or your business down. The other type of review is from a customer who didn’t have a good experience with your business.

In both situations the best practice is to reply with the intent of resolving the issue.

thumbs up thumbs down shutterstock 200581664

Deal with positive and negative reviews with the same attention to detail. Image: Shutterstock.

Reviews on Google and Yelp, for instance, are editable. Doing your best to clear up any issues could potentially lead the person to changing the review, although it’s not good practice to ask for that. Plus, you should not offer an incentive in exchange for changing a review. The best course of action is to build a relationship with the disgruntled customer. Have a conversation with the person the same way you would if they were still at your business location.

It’s also important to respond to the positive reviews and say thank you. In Google, you can add them to circles, engage in conversation, etc.

When you respond to a negative review, try to understand the perspective of the person who wrote it. For example, if they were in a hurry and your food took a long time, say “I fully understand, Sometimes the kitchen takes a little longer. We’d love to have you back. Please come in and let’s see what we can do in order to give you a good experience. You are valuable to us.” Just be friendly.

The worst thing to do is be defensive when responding to a negative review, because that doesn’t help anybody.

The main thing to do, Martin suggests, is to build what he calls a war chest of positive reviews. That way negative ones do not impact the overall rankings (or stars) for your establishment. For example, if you don’t want your rating of a 5 falling below a 4, build up positive reviews to counter those inevitable less-than-positive reviews.

Listen to the show to discover why it’s important to show up in results, even without a physical location.

Discovery of the Week

This awesome tip is for when it’s dark and you want to use your smart device. If you find yourself looking at screens, particularly your smartphone, late at night, you’ll notice the light that comes off of it is a blue light. It’s scientifically proven that blue light stimulates your brain the same way sunlight does, which makes you think it’s daytime and keeps you awake.

The Opera Mini Browser for android and iOS, has something called “night mode,” which changes the way the light comes off of your screen.

Opera Mini Browser

Opera Mini Browser adjusts the light to make it easier to read your screen at night.

The Opera Mini Browser night mode has a subtle overlay to the browser, which filters out the blue light and gives you a subtle, dark sepia tone instead.

Download the free app on your mobile device. Go to settings and hit enable, and night mode is on all the time.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how the Opera Mini Browser works for you.

Other Show Mentions

social media success summitToday’s show is sponsored by Social Media Success Summit 2015.

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Discover the best and newest ways to market your business on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Find new ways to improve your content and measure your results all from the comfort of your home or office. You’ll be led by dozens of top social media pros, including Mari Smith, Mark Schaefer, Amy Porterfield, Christopher Penn and Michael Stelzner. Register now for Social Media Success Summit. Discount tickets are limited.

Social Media Success Summit is an online conference. It’s 36 different sessions spread across 4 weeks. There are three sessions per day, three times per week, over four weeks. And it’s on every conceivable social media platform you can imagine. Check it out. Visit for significant early bird discounts.

Listen to the show!

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on online reviews? Please leave your comments below.

Thumbs photo from Shutterstock.
Brava’s review image created with Placeit.
social media marketing podcast 156 martin shervington

Martin Shervington and Michael Stelzner discuss what marketers need to know about online reviews for local businesses.

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