How to get good reviews

“I would highly recommend”

How to avoid bad reviews and get good reviews instead

9 out of 10 people now read online reviews for local businesses before making a purchase decision. That statistic has been gradually increasing each year.

If you run a business, then you might feel like the whole system of online reviewing is unfairly stacked in the consumers favour – and you would be absolutely correct. People will sometimes post bad reviews about your business for the wrong reasons: the most common one being that they wanted a refund they weren’t really entitled to and when you said “no” they posted a bad review about your business as a form of retribution.

How to avoid bad reviews

The reality is that unhappy customers are usually much more motivated to write a review than happy customers. Happy customers don’t tend to feel compelled to tell everyone else about their experience. Unhappy customers, on the other hand, are highly motivated to write reviews because they are angry; and they want to vent.

If a review is genuinely fraudulent (i.e. the person wasn’t a real customer) then you can try to get it removed but often not quickly or easily. Avoiding negative reviews in the first place is obviously preferable. One way you can do this is to make sure you give consumers other options for airing their grievances. People often post bad reviews because they want to be heard; and if they feel that you’re not listening they will find someone else to complain to instead; such as the entire internet.

You may not be able to resolve the dispute but showing a customer that you’re taking them seriously and listening to them can go a long way to diffuse the situation. Ask them to put their concerns in an email to you and assure them you are going to review it with senior management and respond in a couple of days. Letting them vent to you helps them get it out of their system in a way that is less harmful than posting online. Perhaps in a couple of days they will have calmed down and feel less motivated to post a bad review.

If your keyboard warrior still insists on venting online then your best strategy is to post a response that is polite, professional, and shows the rest of the world you tried your best to resolve the complaint. Readers of reviews understand that some people are just impossible to please and this is always going to happen – they don’t expect you to have a perfect rating (more on this below).

How to get good reviews instead

Getting happy customers to write reviews is the most effective way of boosting your rating scores and online reputation, and these will pre-emptively balance out anything negative that someone might post in the future. But, because happy people are not fired-up with the same level of emotion as angry people, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to share their kind words. “I’m glad you liked it, please feel free to write a review about us” often isn’t enough. They meant to do it, but when they got home they got distracted by other things.

Try emailing happy customers a link which takes them straight to the review section of Google business listing to make it easier for them. Here’s a quick guide on how to generate a link that you can send to customers to write a Google review for your business.

Step 1 – Find your Google “Place ID” by searching for your business here:

Step 2 – Append your Place ID to this link:

You should end up with a link that looks like this (my example uses Due North’s place ID):

Step 3 – Test the link to ensure it works and send it to your customers to make life easy for them!

Another effective strategy is to offer customers a small incentive in return for writing one. My local cafe always gives me a card as I leave that says: “write us a Google review and get 15% off your next meal”. That cafe has over 1200 reviews.

Third-party reviews versus website “testimonials”

“Fantastic, perfect work each and every time. The team are friendly, helpful and hard-working” – Audrey P.

It’s common to see testimonials on websites like that. Did Audrey P really write it? Who knows. The trouble with your website is that everyone realises that you have full control over the content. You can put made-up quotes on there if you want to and obviously you can omit anything negative. Therefore, people generally don’t believe testimonials you put on your website unless they can actually verify them.

People trust Google reviews and other third-party reviews because they know you don’t have editorial control over those. They know you can’t delete the bad ones and they can check if testimonials were really written by Audrey P or Mike B. With Google reviews they can, to an extent, verify their authenticity.

My advice is never to use “testimonial” content on your website. A much better approach is to use a plug-in that feeds real Google, Facebook, or other reviews in from third party sources and displays them on your site, while still allowing people to click on these reviews to view the original source website site so they can verify authenticity. 

What’s the perfect star rating?

Research has shown that the perfect score is actually around 4.7-4.9. When it gets to 5.0 some consumers think they smell a rat.

Half of consumers also care about the quantity of reviews a business has. People each read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel they can trust a local business. People also care how recent your reviews are, with over a third of people looking for reviews posted within the last 2 weeks.

The key thing to understand though is how potential customers actually use reviews within their purchase decision process. Good online reviews alone won’t attract people to your product or business. Nobody will suddenly come across you simply because you have good reviews (although having lots of good reviews can help to boost your SEO rankings and help you be a bit more visible in Google search results).

The way customers use reviews is similar to how employers use employment reference checks – it’s a final bit of due diligence. They’ve already identified they like your product, that it meets their needs and they are happy with your price. But, before taking the plunge, they just want to make sure you aren’t going to rip them off or give them the customer service experience from hell.

When someone looks at your reviews, they are not so much looking for good reviews but rather the absence of multiple bad reviews. If you have 15 good reviews, then one bad review won’t send people running to your competition. The happy voices will drown-out that one angry voice and effectively discredit him.

Consumers are becoming skilled at viewing your online reputation holistically. They know there are trolls, keyboard warriors and crazy folk on the internet. They just want to make sure they don’t see a pattern that’s concerning before parting with their cash.

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