No matter who they are or what they’re looking for, consumers in the digital age have a plethora of choice. You know it, and what’s more, they know it. It’s the reason why even well-established brands can sometimes wring their hands when it comes to securing long term customer loyalty. It’s why your competitors are a bigger threat to you now than ever before. It’s why forms of social proof like user reviews on Google have taken on a whole new level of importance in recent years.
No matter how artfully and ubiquitously you promote your brand and your products, today’s consumers are savvier than ever. They’re taught from an early age how to decode advertising and separate the benefits from the bluster. No matter what great things you say about your business and no matter how well or how often you say it… Consumers will always take it with a big chunk of salt.
Here’s what a Google Review Snippet looks like in organic search:
Notice how Rest Easy Pest Control has the 5 stars underneath the URL? This is something that will draw attention from consumers searching for a good service to choose.
Why consumers trust Google star ratings
Google star ratings can be seen on your Google MyBusiness page and are aggregated from all the Google reviews left from customers who have used your business. Consumers trust these star ratings, and they speak more clearly and articulately than your press releases or content marketing materials ever could.
Firstly, because they trust Google. It’s among the most trusted tech companies in the world.
Secondly, they trust the word of other consumers; people just like them who will tell the truth about your products and services without agenda.
While they will always make their own informed decisions, user reviews are undoubtedly an important factor, especially for younger consumers. If you’re catering to a generation of digital natives, it’s worth remembering that millennial consumers trust user reviews 68% more than they trust advertising copy. Reviews can even positively influence your SEO, especially if you have your sights set on conquering the local market.
If your business has earned a good star rating from Google, you’ll want to display it proudly on your digital sleeve. Consumers will see it and know that yours is a brand they can trust. A Google Review Snippet can act as a stamp of approval for your business from the people who use it. Users will be able to see your aggregate star rating as well as some choice snippets from user reviews.
Here are some ways in which you add one to your website…
Install a Schema code manually
If you’re technically minded, you can write your own code using structured data or schema.org markup. This allows Google bots to recognize and interpret review data and star ratings appropriately.
If your coding skills are a little rusty, Ian Brodie has an excellent code template which you can tweak as appropriate for your business and embed within your website’s code.
You’ll need to use a code that allows Google to properly categorize your business as well as providing your business name, address, contact data and an appropriate image to represent your business like your logo or premises exterior. There are other non-mandatory elements you can incorporate such as opening hours which may be of value to prospective customers. Ensure that all of the data you volunteer in your Google MyBusiness listing.
You’ll also need a code for displaying the star ratings themselves. Again, if you’re unsure how to do this, Ian Brodie’s website has a useful template which you can tweak to match your own business data.
It’s important to know not only how to install this code, but where to install it. Research shows that Google does not support star ratings on home pages and root domains. Thus, it’s a good idea to display your star ratings in a “reviews” or “about” section of your website.
Copy and paste reviews directly
You can embed reviews to your website directly from your business page. Here’s how you go about it;
- Sign in to the relevant Google account for your business listing.
- Load your Google MyBusiness page.
- Click on the “share” icon in the lower right-hand corner of the review.
- Click the options arrow and choose”Embed Post”
- Copy the Header code and paste between the <head></head> HTML tags.
- Copy and paste the content code wherever you want to display the reviews.
Please note that this makes reviews visible in their entirety. If you only want to include snippets, you may need to employ other means, such as…
Use a WordPress plugin
If your website is one of the 75,000,000 around the world that uses WordPress you may find that the easiest way to include Google Review Snippets is through a third party plugin. Rich Plugins has its own WordPress plugin which you can purchase and install with a minimum of hassle. Installation is very simple, simply download the plugin from Google and upload it to WordPress. Not only will it display your aggregate star rating, but the plugin also allows you to display rich snippets or reviews in their entirety in a sidebar.
A free plugin will allow you to display up to 5 Google and 5 Yelp reviews while the business plugin allows you to display unlimited reviews from a wide range of plugins for just $85. Users can even write and post a review from your website.
Screenshot user reviews from external sites
If all of this seems a little complicated, one simple way to incorporate review data into your website is to screenshot user reviews from external sites and display the resultant graphics on your website. This will help you to meet Google’s requirement for star ratings although it may look quite as impressive on your website.
Use a third party tool
Even if your website doesn’t use WordPress there are a host of reasonably priced third-party tools that will fulfill the same function, giving you complete autonomy over where and how you display Google user reviews or rich snippets. What’s more, because there are quite a few on the market it’s relatively easy to find one that matches your needs.
Once you’re signed up they’ll send you a chunk of code to embed wherever you’d like to see your review snippets and away you go!
Staying within Google MyBusiness Guidelines
Whichever approach you choose, you’ll need to take steps to ensure that your website stays within Google’s guidelines for MyBusiness listings. The good news is that this is pretty easy to do when displaying reviews for your business or your products. Here are some boxes you’ll need to check before going live;
- “Provide review and/or rating information about a specific item, not about a category or a list of items” This is fairly straightforward, you just need to ensure that the aggregate rating displays matches with the actual content.
- “No reviews are shown for adult-related products or services.” Okay, so we’re going to assume your business doesn’t deal in such items and services anyway. But if it does, apologies but this is against GMB’s policy.
- “Single reviewer name needs to be valid” It goes without saying that reviews need to come from real people. They’d have no value to consumers or to you if they didn’t anyway.
Need more Google reviews? That’s where we come in!
Needless to say, the more user reviews you have, the easier it is to leverage them to gain the trust of an increasingly fickle target market. If you’ve been having trouble getting your customers to leave you enough reviews and star ratings to develop a meaningful aggregate score, that’s where we come in.
We specialize in generating high-quality first reviews that generate real social proof. These are of value not just to potential customers, but to Google and other search engines. Thus, while improving your social proof, you can also potentially gain a nice SEO boost.
With our help, you can gain the aggregate user star ratings that will help your business to shine in the eyes of your prospective customers.