How to Respond to Google Reviews

Erik Wardell

Erik is an SEO coach that loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. He thrives on helping people do what it takes to see their businesses succeed in search. Stay in touch on Twitter — @wanderinwardell.

Getting customer feedback can be nerve-wracking, especially when it’s delivered online in the form of a publicly available Google review. You can set your fears aside and instead, recognize that all 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 both good and bad reviews will help your business thrive. This guide will teach you how best to respond.

Let’s dive in.

What Are Google Reviews 

Let’s start where your Google reviews appear. When someone searches for your exact brand name on Google, there’s a good chance your Google Maps listing will display prominently on the search engine results page (SERP) on desktop and mobile, like the listing in the images below.

Standard Google Review Example
Google review mobile example

An abbreviated view of your Maps listing may also pop up in the results for certain local searches as part of the “local pack."

Notice that in all of these instances, a star rating appears as part of your Google Maps listing. When users click on these star ratings, they will be taken to a page where they can see all of your reviews. Not only can people see every review that’s been submitted, they also (more importantly) have the ability to see every reply you have made in response.

These reviews act as social proof that your company provides a high level of customer service. They also have the ability to impact your search engine rankings as well as the decisions people make about whether or not to buy your products or services. Afterall, online reviews are digital markers of trust, and Google values websites and businesses with strong trust signals.

Now that you know where reviews live and what they do, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions 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 after they’ve shared 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 take the time to acknowledge it. After all, who doesn’t want to be heard?

Can You Delete a Bad Google Review?

If only it were so easy! The answer is no; deleting a review once it’s been posted is not an option. Instead, you have three ways to get rid of a bad review:

  1. 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 a high-quality solution, they might end up regretting the bad review and change that single star into three or four.
  2. 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 compassionate customer service like we recommend, it just might happen.
  3. Flag the review as inappropriate if it violates Google’s posting guidelines. If someone is using profane or derogatory language, posting off-topic, threatening you, or using a fake profile, you can probably get it pulled. Refer to the Google posting guidelines for more reasons reviews can get removed.

How to Respond to Google Reviews

Here’s the official advice from Google:

  1. Be nice and don’t get personal.
  2. Keep it short and sweet.
  3. Thank your reviewers.
  4. Be a friend, not a salesperson.

At Pathfinder SEO, we break down Google review responses into two categories: responses to positive reviews and responses to negative reviews.

How to Respond to Positive Google Reviews

Show your customers appreciation for their business and let them know that you value their opinion by following this three-step process:

1. Address Reviewers by Name

Have you ever heard that a person’s own name is the sweetest word in the world to them? It came from Dale Carnegie’s book: How To Win Friends And Influence People. Apply this concept to your review responses. You can typically find the reviewer’s name in their Google profile. Calling them by name is a great way to make your response feel personalized.

2. Show Appreciation

There are two things you should overtly thank your reviewers for:

  1. Doing business with you.
  2. Taking the time to write a review. Describing why you appreciate them is a great way to show that you truly care and show potential customers what's in store if they choose to do business with you.

3. 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 to keep coming back for more.

If all reviews were positive, your job would be easy. Unfortunately, that’s not the world in which most of us live.

How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews

While your survival instincts might tell you to ignore negative reviews, rally your friends to submit enough positive reviews to bury the negative one, or even lash out at the reviewer for being a jerk, those impulses 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 some genuine empathy or compassion. In fact, you should probably deliver a large dose. Show your customers that you truly care about their feelings. If you don’t actually care, that might be the reason for the bad review in the first place and this article may not help.

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 — why they unfolded the way they did. A bit of internal investigation might come in handy before writing your response. Then, empathize with the reviewer and offer a sincere apology.

There’s also no need to be a total pushover. If the reviewer has written something that just isn’t true, politely point out the inaccuracy and move on.

3. Offer Quality Solutions

If you’ve followed the first two suggestions, you’ll hopefully be on better footing with your customer already.

Use your public reply to offer them specific solutions, and give them the ability to contact your business privately. Keep in mind that responding publicly is key. You want to show your customers that you are willing to do what it takes to resolve grievances and 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 can add your reply on either your desktop or your mobile device.

Where to Reply to Google Reviews on a Desktop

Where to reply to Google reviews on desktop
  1. Navigate to https://www.google.com/business/ in your browser and login in the top right corner where it says “Sign in.”
  2. 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 (assuming you have a single business).
  3. If you are managing multiple businesses via Google My Business, you will need to select which business has the reviews you want to respond to.
  4. Once you see your dashboard, click on “Manage reviews” in the dash or “Reviews” in the left-hand navigation. All existing reviews will be displayed.
  5. Click “Reply” on all reviews that don’t yet have replies and follow the response guidelines above.

Where to Reply to Google Reviews on a Mobile

Where to reply to Google reviews on mobile
  1. Download the Google My Business app on your Android or Apple device and log in.
  2. Click on “Customers” at the bottom of the app.
  3. This will display all of your reviews. Click on “Reviews you would like to reply to” and you will be given a box where you can type your response.

How Do You Get (Great) Reviews on Google?

Great Google reviews can be surprisingly easy to come by when you follow the proper steps.

Provide Great Service & Exceptional Products

It all starts with providing great service and/or exceptional products in the first place. Getting reviews on Google Maps is an easy marketing initiative once you have many satisfied customers who want to share their experiences doing business with you.

Create a Culture

Create a culture of asking for reviews within your business or organization. If a salesperson or cashier receives positive feedback, teach them to say thank you followed by asking for a review.

For example, if the cashier at your local hardware store hears from a customer that “Your paint color matching is the best,” train the cashier to reply, “Thank you! If you don’t mind leaving a similar comment on our Google Maps listing, that would be a big help.”

Gauge the Experience

If you feel your customer had a great experience with your product or service, go ahead and ask them to write a review on Google My Business. You could also give them something as a reminder. When they’re done checking out, place a card in their bag that kindly directs them to where they could leave a review.

Or, if you’re mailing a physical invoice, include a handwritten note mentioning your appreciation in advance should they take the time to review your business on Google. Yet another option is to send an email with a similar message.

Make it Easy 

Figuring out how to leave a review on Google Maps can be a barrier for some customers. Make it easy for them by providing either a written/printed URL or a direct link. There’s also a free Google Chrome extension called GatherUp that makes directing customers to the Google review page easy.

Tying It All Together 

You now have all the tools you need to properly respond to any Google reviews your business gets. Keep in mind that prevention is always the best medicine. Make sure you are offering your customers the best experience possible both online and in person, and hopefully, the only reviews you’ll reply to will be positive.

Erik Wardell

Erik is an SEO coach that loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. He thrives on helping people do what it takes to see their businesses succeed in search. Stay in touch on Twitter — @wanderinwardell.

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