Make 2020 a success by being ready for changes coming from Google

They say the clothes make the man. If that’s true, we can also say the reviews make the business. Like a crisp blazer (or a rumpled old t-shirt), reviews are often the first thing people see when searching for your business. And like clothing, customers use reviews to make judgments and draw conclusions. Are you put-together and dressed to impress, or sloppy and unconcerned with outside opinion?

There’s just one catch: while you can easily change your clothes, you can’t always change your reviews. And now, Google is implementing some changes that may make it even more difficult for customers to see the best version of you.

Here’s what you need to know to help your business look its best:

Your stars won’t shine as bright.

Google is eliminating Review Rich Snippets for local businesses. This is what determines how many stars show up under your business’s Google listing. The goal with this is to protect the consumer — Google can’t guarantee that local sites’ reviews are genuine and unaltered, so they’re getting rid of them altogether.

What it means:
You can still use a widget or third party to aggregate reviews on your website, but your stars from these ratings won’t be visible under your Google listing.

Up the ante on external reviews

This change puts even more influence on outside review sources like Yelp or Tripadvisor. Sites like these are unaffected by the change because Google sees them as “not self-serving.”

What it means:
If you want to get ahead, you’ll need to invest more time in managing your reviews on third party websites. Responding to reviews — even and at times especially the negative ones — improves your visibility and shows that your business is active, involved, and committed to customer satisfaction.

Three stars? How about no stars?

Another big change from Google is the decision to filter out local businesses that have reviews lower than four stars from search rankings.

What it means:
Stay on top of your Google reviews. Solicit positive reviews and create a user-friendly process for customers to rate your business. Again, respond to negative reviews and attempt to resolve the situation.

If this sounds overwhelming, you’re not alone. Managing reviews can be an overwhelming task for a small business, but it doesn’t have to be. At Willow Marketing, we’re designing customized Review and Recommendation packages to help you handle your business’s ratings and improve your ranking. We’re creating a seamless, natural way to streamline the process, giving you an automated, hassle-free way to look your best… even online.

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Written by Brad Gillum

"We’re business consultants who happen to specialize in marketing. We help people and have fun doing it."