In today’s digital age, online reviews and ratings are key influencers for consumers when making purchasing decisions. With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, the importance of maintaining a positive online reputation for local businesses cannot be overdo.

This is where Google star ratings and reviews play a crucial role. They serve as a virtual word-of-mouth recommendation and can significantly impact a business’s success. In fact, according to a survey by BrightLocal, 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of them stating that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.

Therefore, it is imperative for local businesses to have a strong online presence and actively manage their online reputation.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of Google star ratings and reviews, and provide tips and strategies for boosting your local business’s reputation through these digital platforms.

By implementing these practices, you can enhance your online reputation, attract more happy customers, and ultimately drive business growth.

A Prerequisite of a Minimum 4+ Star Rating

A significant majority of consumers, encompassing sixty percent, have a prerequisite of a minimum 4+ star rating when considering engaging with a local business. Furthermore, more than one-third of these consumers assert that the star rating is the crucial factor distinguishing between various local brands.

Consequently, if you are responsible for marketing either a nascent company or an established business that has encountered a downturn in its reputation, and your overall ratings dip below this imperative threshold, it is inevitable that your revenue will suffer.

Nevertheless, there is still hope!

In the present article, you will discover a series of pragmatic and effective measures that can be execute to elevate the star ratings of your Google Business Profile, enhance your reviews, and initiate the development of a commendable online reputation. Such actions are indispensable in order to unlock the full profit potential of the local businesses you are promoting.

Establishing Local Business Reputation

In the given context, a local establishment possesses an offline standing that is established through word-of-mouth sentiments shared by community members it serves. Additionally, it also possesses an online reputation that is prominently showcased through rating and review systems on platforms such as Google Business Profile, Yelp, Nextdoor, TripAdvisor, and others.

Although this article primarily focuses on Google, the advice provided can be applied to most platforms hosting reviews for local businesses.

For an extensive analysis of original data and a personal recommendations regarding the diverse elements of online reviews, we recommend referring to Moz’s comprehensive survey report on reviews. However, for the purpose of today’s discussion, it is crucial to understand that a mere 13% of consumers consider a flawless 5-star rating as a prerequisite for engaging with a company.

Willing to Consider

On the other hand, a significant 51% of consumers are willing to consider a brand that maintains a 4-star overall rating. Consequently, both 4 and 5-star ratings are generally recognize as indicative of a commendable or good reputation by the majority of consumers.

Nonetheless, there is room for hope as approximately one-third of consumers may still be willing to give your organization a chance even if its overall reputation is only 3 stars. This provides an opportunity for your business to navigate through a grace period, during which you can strategically enhance your operations and build more trust within your community.

We will categorize a 3-star reputation as being in need of improvement. The task involved becomes more challenging if the reputation drops to 2 stars or less, as only a mere 2% of the public is likely to consider patronizing your establishment. Such a rating would be consider poor, but with a dedicated commitment, you can work towards improving it.

Task 1: Conduct a search for your business on Google and make a note of its overall rating and the number of reviews it has received.

Comprehend the Functioning of Google’s System

In order to effectively enhance your reputation, it is essential to comprehend the functioning of Google’s system. Google Business Profiles, Local Finders, and Google Maps incorporate local business ratings and reviews as an integral part.

Reviews represent textual sentiments expressed by consumers, as depicted above, while ratings employ a 1-5 star symbol to provide a quick assessment of a company’s reputation. The overall rating obtain by a business is set on by Google’s average of all individual customer ratings.

For instance, if a business has only two reviews, with one receiving a 1-star rating and the other a 5-star rating, the overall rating averages out to 3.0 stars. Google users have the option of leaving both a rating and text, or solely a rating.

Given Google’s averaging methodology, many local business owners with less than a 4-star rating often wonder how many higher-star ratings they need to acquire in order to improve their overall rating. The answer depends on the total number of ratings the company has already accumulated.

Based on my calculations, if a business with ten reviews has an overall rating of 3.0 stars and desires to elevate it to an impressive 4.0 star average, they will need to acquire ten new 5-star reviews to make a significant impact. Similarly, if a business begins with one hundred reviews and a 3.0 star rating, they will need to secure one hundred new 5-star reviews to reach a 4.0 star average.

Various surveys conducted over the years have measured the correlation between star ratings and increased conversions, with recent reports indicating that a one-star improvement in the overall rating (e.g., from 3.0 to 4.0 stars) can result in a remarkable 44% increase in Google Business Profile conversions. This statistic demonstrates the substantial impact of rating enhancement.

Must Be Address Gradually

The process of improving ratings must be address gradually to prevent a sudden influx of new reviews, which could lead Google to filter them out. Additionally, it is important to note that it may take up to two weeks for incoming reviews to reflect in the overall average.

Hence, local businesses facing challenges with their online reputation can analyze the existing averages and estimate the number of new high-star reviews required to witness the benefits in terms of conversions, transactions, revenue, and overall brand reputation.

Analyzing Factors Leading to Detrimental Impact on Reputation

There exist a minimum of 9 prevailing factors that contribute to the erosion of star ratings and reputation:

  • Insufficient reviews, which unduly empowers a select few voices
  • Neglecting to respond to reviews, thereby diminishing engagement
  • Neglecting local business listings, leading to the propagation of false information online
  • Subpar customer service, displaying unprofessional or discourteous behavior
  • Inferior product offerings, resulting in dissatisfaction among customers
  • Inadequate execution of work, leading to substandard outcomes
  • Inundation of spam from competitors, former employees, and personal adversaries
  • Unwanted promotional content from business owners, staff, or marketers
  • Occurrence of scandals that tarnish the reputation of the business

With the exception of the final point, viable solutions for the majority of these issues are readily available. However, the gravity of the aforementioned point may surpass the scope of this article, potentially leading the business to face legal consequences and irreparable damage that hinders its operations.

Nevertheless, when it comes to the other eight prevalent scenarios, the responsibility to address and rectify them lies solely in your hands.

Assignment 2: Identify the primary factors contributing to your unfavorable rating and meticulously document them. Thoroughly examine all customer reviews, meticulously noting down each complaint and categorizing them according to the nine problem types listed above.

Enhancing the Standing of Your Local Enterprise: A Sequential Guide

During the initial and subsequent assignments, you have recorded your comprehensive evaluation and the total count of reviews. Furthermore, you have classified the grievances received into distinct categories among the nine available.

You are now fully prepared to address any of the pertinent categories aligned with your particular situation.

Insufficient Evaluations Granting Excessive Influence to a Limited Spectrum of Opinions

Insufficient reviews often serve as the primary and conspicuous factor contributing to an unfavorable overall star rating. When a business lacks a substantial number of reviews, the significance attributed to each individual review becomes remarkably elevated.

As previously highlighted, if your company only possesses one 1-star review and one 5-star review, the resulting overall reputation would merely amount to 3.0 stars.

A staggering 28% of consumers tend to lose faith in a business when it possesses an inadequate number of reviews compared to its competitors. Moreover, a considerable 70% of potential customers will diligently peruse between 5 to 20 reviews prior to determining whether your company is deserving of their patronage.

Therefore, it is prudent and advantageous to implement a review acquisition strategy that guarantees a continuous influx of sentiments, ensuring that no single customer holds an excessively dominant influence over your reputation narrative.

Inadequate Attention to Review Feedback

A significant proportion of your customer base, 40% to be precise, expects you to acknowledge their positive feedback by providing an owner response. Similarly, when faced with a negative review, 64% of your customers anticipate a response from you.

However, it is imperative to recognize that these expectations are rather low. It is crucial for local businesses to adopt a proactive approach by promptly responding to every review they receive, just as one would never ignore a customer visiting their physical establishment. Neglecting those who reach out to you online is equally unacceptable.

In terms of response time, 11% of individuals anticipate a reply within a mere two hours of submitting their review. Furthermore, 21% expect a response within 24 hours, while an additional 28% anticipate one within 48 hours.

Henceforth, it is paramount to prioritize the utilization of the owner response functionality as soon as a new review is received or at a designated time each day. If managing this becomes challenging, Moz Local can assist by notifying you of incoming reviews across various platforms.

This strategic approach will prove beneficial moving forward.

However, if your current review collection comprises months or even years of unanswered feedback, it is advisable to take the time to retrospectively address the past six months’ worth of reviews. While delayed responses may not reignite engagement with the customers who left the reviews, it is an opportunity to convey to the wider public that you are implementing a fresh strategy of active responsiveness.

Here Are Essential Insights to Assist You in Crafting Exceptional Responses To Unfavorable Reviews:

  • Prioritize every effort towards resolving any issues mentioned in a negative review, as neglecting this can lead to 54% of consumers avoiding your business.
  • Engaging in accusations of falsehood with a customer will result in 33% of potential clients steering clear of your establishment. Similarly, arguing with the reviewer will cause 46% of individuals to avoid your business. Maintain a positive and professional tone in your responses, irrespective of your personal opinion on the matter.
  • Ensure that your response to a negative review incorporates an apology, as neglecting this can deter 47% of potential customers from approaching your business.
  • Remember that 38% of consumers write reviews specifically to communicate areas where your business can improve. By actively addressing the mentioned issues, you are directly enhancing customer service and bolstering your reputation.

Disregard for the Accurate Depiction of Local Businesses Across Online Platforms Due to Insufficient Attention to Business Listings

According to a recent survey, over half of local business reviewers admit to writing negative reviews due to encountering false or inaccurate information about local businesses online, particularly on local business listings.

When vital details like business names, addresses, contact numbers, operating hours, and other essential data are incorrect, it not only inconveniences the public but also leads to disappointment and frustration.

Thankfully, actively managing local business listings is a straightforward and effective way to protect and enhance your reputation, thereby preventing negative reviews and poor ratings caused by avoidable errors. You have two viable options to accomplish this:

  1. Conduct a thorough manual audit of Google’s organic search engine results for your business name and services. Identify all the local business listing and review platforms where you have a profile, assess these profiles for any inaccuracies, claim ownership of them, update the information, and maintain a record of changes in a spreadsheet. This option requires a significant amount of effort.
  2. Alternatively, you can subscribe to a service such as Moz Local, which streamlines the management of all your listings across major platforms from a single dashboard. This efficient approach ensures accuracy and minimizes negative customer experiences.

Besides ensuring the accuracy of your business information on formal listing platforms, it is advisable to check for any inaccuracies in other online mentions of your business, also known as unstructured citations.

For instance, if a local blogger wrote about your business two years ago and referenced your previous address, it is crucial to search for such references and reach out to the publishers to request an update whenever your business undergoes significant changes.

Poor Or Discourteous Customer Service

A predominant ranking factor leading to negative online sentiment and low ratings is the occurrence of unsatisfactory customer service, as revealed by 65% of review writers expressing their discontent. Addressing such issues may necessitate comprehensive measures rather than mere superficial remedies.

Each business situation is unique, but herein lie eight pertinent inquiries aimed at identifying the fundamental causes behind customers feeling poorly treated within a commercial establishment:

  • Have all personnel responsible for public interactions received comprehensive training encompassing knowledge of company products, services, and policies?
  • Are continuous training sessions an integral part of our program, facilitating the development and enhancement of skills?
  • Have all employees acquired training in recognizing and resolving customer complaints promptly, thus averting their escalation to online platforms?
  • Are all members of staff entrusted and empowered to exercise their ingenuity and initiative in resolving customer concerns, with a clear understanding of the appropriate escalation channels for issues beyond their immediate control?

Bring A Sense of Stability

  • Does every staff member receive a fair wage, enabling them to bring a sense of stability and contentment to the workplace?
  • Do all leaders within the organization exemplify the company’s values, serving as role models for their subordinates?
  • Is there a formal council or policy in place to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), guaranteeing equitable treatment, consideration, and service for both staff and customers?
  • Has the business established a comprehensive customer rights policy that is effectively disseminated to both the staff and the public?

In the event that any of the responses provided to the aforementioned inquiries is negative, it is plausible that you have detected a potential factor contributing to the dissatisfaction and perception of poor or impolite treatment among negative reviewers. By proactively tackling the root causes of staff shortcomings in terms of professionalism, respect, and customer satisfaction, you will effectively address critical organizational deficiencies.

With the implementation of appropriate remedies, the influx of positive ratings and favorable reviews should gradually surpass the negative ones, thereby enhancing your organization’s reputation and credibility.

Bad Products

Planned obsolescence, the deliberate manufacturing of products with a limited lifespan, has garnered significant attention and is facing legal restrictions in various regions worldwide. The adverse impact of investing substantial funds in subpar merchandise is keenly felt by consumers, leaving them dissatisfied.

Recent studies reveal that 63% of reviewers attribute negative reviews to this issue, with the younger demographic, particularly those aged 18-29, ranking it as the primary cause for their discontent.

This sentiment is further exacerbated in the United States, where the younger population tends to have lower income levels, making their frustration understandable as they expend hard-earned money on inferior goods.

Compounding the problem, supply chain disruptions in recent years have forced local businesses to stock whatever products they can acquire, often compromising on quality. Additionally, the growing awareness of sustainability issues has prompted the public to reevaluate the environmental consequences and pollution associated with a disposable culture.

If some of your negative reviews fall within the realm of “bad products,” it is worth noting that modern digital marketing thought leadership envisions business owners as guardians and custodians responsible for offering their communities the highest quality and most sustainable products. Local businesses can explore alternatives such as replacing goods sourced from distant locations with locally available inventory, whenever feasible.

Implementing additional quality control measures may also be essential. While addressing this challenge is not without difficulties, especially considering the manufacturing disruptions caused by the pandemic, it becomes even more crucial to rectify if you discover that negative ratings stem from an inventory of substandard products, which undermine your reputation.

Poor Work On A Job

In the pursuit of restoring your reputation, it is crucial to address customer complaints promptly and directly, regardless of the time elapsed since their initial review. Whether it pertains to a botched home improvement, an unsuccessful repair, or an unmet deadline, reaching out to dissatisfied clients and seeking ways to rectify the situation is the most effective approach.

This may involve redoing the work, offering a refund, or simply offering a sincere apology accompanied by a request for an opportunity to make amends.

While it is essential to refrain from offering incentives to encourage customers to update their negative ratings or reviews, it is important to identify the point at which your follow-up efforts have resulted in customer satisfaction to an extent that they may consider revising their online sentiment. Achieving this outcome yields two significant victories.

Firstly, the original customer regains their faith in your business and is more likely to continue their association with you. Secondly, when a negative review is amended to reflect a subsequent positive experience, it no longer poses a deterrent to potential customers seeking your services.

The following statistics should instill confidence in your pursuit of rectifying customer grievances: 67% of negative reviewers formed an improved perception of a brand when the owner responded appropriately, and 62% of negative reviewers would grant a local brand a second chance after the owner’s response successfully resolves their issue.

Unwanted Communications from Industry Rivals, Former Staff Members, and Personal Detractors

According to experts, Google faces the most significant challenge when it comes to review spam among all major review platforms, as an estimated 10.7% of its review content is deemed fraudulent. Each review platform has its specific guidelines, and numerous countries have regulations in place to define review fraud. However, a comprehensive definition can encompass the following criteria:

  • Reviews that are composed as a result of receiving money, gifts, discounts, or other forms of incentives.
  • Reviews originating from competitors, business owners, employees (current or former), or individuals who are not actual customers of the business.
  • Reviews submitted on behalf of someone else rather than directly by the customer.
  • Reviews that are manipulated or selectively filtered to display only positive sentiments.
  • Requests for review removal in exchange for monetary compensation, discounts, or other incentives.

It is crucial for review platforms to address these issues to ensure the integrity and reliability of user-generated content.

Review fraud is a violation of the law in the United States. It is regarded as an unethical tactic that adversely affects both consumers and businesses, as stipulated by section 5(a) of the US Federal Trade Commission Act.

A Significant 40% of Consumers

Regrettably, a recent survey conducted by Moz reveals that a significant 40% of consumers have been approached with offers of monetary compensation, discounts, or gifts in exchange for writing reviews.

This reprehensible behavior encompasses instances where brands and agencies pay individuals to provide positive reviews of their own products while simultaneously leaving negative reviews for their competitors. Furthermore, an additional 11% of respondents admit to leaving detrimental reviews about their former employers.

It is crucial to emphasize that all of these above practices are strictly ban.

It is crucial to understand that Google will solely consider the removal of spam reviews if they clearly violate their stated guidelines. Additionally, Google typically does not remove ratings without accompanying text.

Negatively Affected

If you strongly believe that your overall Google star rating has been negatively affected by review fraud, there are three potential avenues for resolving this issue:

  1. Access your Google account and search for your business by name. Utilize the New Merchant Experience interface, which should appear in the organic results, and navigate to the “read reviews” tab. Locate the fraudulent review and click on the three dots to the right of it to report the review. Wait for a minimum of three days and then verify if the review has been eradicate. If not, you can attempt to report the problem through the live chat form provided. For comprehensive information on reporting review fraud, refer to the Google help document.
  2. If the review fraud originates from a personal adversary or another known malicious actor, it may be necessary to consult with legal professionals to determine the appropriate course of action for resolution.
  3. In the event that Google fails to safeguard you against a large-scale review spam attack, a public relations campaign may be your only recourse for resolution. While Google occasionally disregards individual reports of review spam, they have been known to respond once the situation gains public attention through mainstream media coverage. There have even been cases where Google has temporarily disabled reviews during periods of negative review attacks.

Unwarranted Solicitations Emanating from Entrepreneurial Entities and their Cohorts or Promoters

A significant portion of consumers, approximately 50%, will lose confidence in a business if it appears that the owner or their employees are providing reviews for their own establishment. Suspicion arises in 44% of individuals when a review profile solely consists of five-star ratings and lacks any form of criticism.

Similarly, 39% of consumers become mistrustful when the profiles of reviewers seem questionable, whereas 20% express wariness when a local brand has an excessive number of reviews in comparison to its competitors.

It is important to note that a negative reputation does not necessarily correspond to a low star rating. Instead, it may arise from customers quietly disengaging due to valid suspicions of fraudulent activities perpetrated by the business itself.

If your marketing efforts are associated with a business falling into this category, the aforementioned statistics, coupled with the illegal nature of such actions, should serve as compelling reasons to promptly take action by removing any reviews that violate platform guidelines and government regulations.

Should Be Remove

Reviews left by the business or its staff should be remove without hesitation. In cases where fraudulent reviews stem from the involvement of a marketing firm implementing these practices, seeking legal advice may be necessary to compel the organization to eliminate such content.

Only by eliminating as many spam reviews as possible can you begin to establish a legitimate reputation that fosters customer satisfaction and ensures the longevity of your brand.

Now, it is time to initiate the necessary measures to address each category in which negative reviews fall. Prioritizing the acquisition of new reviews should be your main focus, followed by allowing sufficient time for the anticipated improvements in ratings to materialize.

If executed successfully, you should begin to observe an increase in customer engagement and revenue, attributed to your improved overall rating.

In Conclusion

A subpar overall rating can have a detrimental impact on the success and promotion of your local business aspirations. However, by identifying the underlying causes of negative consumer sentiment, you can leverage this insight to significantly enhance your operations.

While it may require a considerable investment of time and effort, implementing superior practices, services, and promotional strategies can ultimately lead to a stellar rating. Over the past two decades, this work has become an essential component of running a successful local business.

For local businesses currently grappling with a rating of three stars or lower, the primary objective is to swiftly effect improvements and actively cultivate a consistent influx of positive sentiment. This will ensure that potential customers are no longer put off by a lackluster rating.

It is worth noting that the majority of customers do not seek flawless perfection; in fact, many individuals regard flawlessness with suspicion.

The optimal approach involves utilizing negative consumer sentiment as a valuable resource for gaining critical business intelligence. It serves as an invaluable indicator of areas that require attention in order to enhance customer satisfaction.

Consequently, managing business reviews becomes an ongoing imperative within local search marketing efforts. Even businesses with a satisfactory or exceptional rating must continuously devote their efforts to maintaining their reputation through diligent review count management.

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