Google Reviews are critical to your business. They can help your listing rank higher on Google Maps as well as build your reputation and credibility with prospective customers.
A few months ago Google quietly launched a range of attributes that can be selected when leaving a review. Customers can now express a “critical” or “positive” sentiment about the services you provide using these attributes without even typing a word and in just a few clicks.
Largely unnoticed by most business owners when launched due to the pandemic, this is the biggest change Google has made to reviews in almost 10 years and is likely to have a major impact on your Google My Business listing moving forward.
If you want to know how this feature is going to affect your business and how to make the most of it, read on.
Google Launches review attributes
So last spring, Google launched the ability for customers to add positive and negative attributes when writing a review about your business.
These attributes are currently available for most service related businesses, but I feel they will be extended to all business types soon enough.
Any customer wanting to leave you a positive 4 or 5-star review is now prompted with the following question, “what do you like about this business?” And presented with the option of selecting between 3 and 5 attributes.
Depending on your business vertical these attributes may vary, in this example the 5 attributes for this electrician are Good quality, good value, professional, responsive and on time.
But if I try to leave a review for a dog grooming business, for example, the on time attribute has been switched to the “Reliable” attribute.
If a customer chooses however to give you a negative 1 or 2-star review, he will be prompted with this question, “What do you not like about this business?” and to choose from another set of attributes.
Looking at the electrician example again the attributes are as follows, poor quality, poor value, not professional, not responsive and not on time while for a dog grooming business the not on time attribute will be changed to reliable.
Customers choosing to give you a 3-star review will not be presented with the option to add attributes to it.
These attributes are prominently visible as they are displayed right under the star rating of a review in the review section of your listing in Google search and Google Maps.
If you want to find out which attributes are associated with your business, just bring your listing up and try leaving a review. Choose the 5-stars and 1-star option to bring up the lists.
But why are these attributes so important? I hear you say.
The importance of review attributes
According to a study conducted by the online review specialists at gather up.com, who analysed just under 3 million business reviews, almost 35% of all reviews are just ratings only.
This means customers don’t bother providing any further information besides giving a number of stars they think is appropriate to a business.
We all know that 1 star is clearly not good, and 5 stars is great, but there is no further context to the review, making it difficult for prospective customers and Google to understand what is good or bad about this business based on ratings alone.
This is not very helpful to Google, who is always trying to provide the most relevant and accurate information to searchers.
Providing customers with the ability to add attributes to reviews helps Google just do that and to evaluate every small business on a much more granular level.
And this is clearly paying off for Google.
To measure the effectiveness of this new feature, the study compared the number of rating only reviews for a group of insurance agents before and after the attributes were rolled out.
Sure enough, shortly after it was launched, the number of rating only reviews with no attributes dropped by a staggering 63%.
So what does this mean for local businesses?
Google has made it extremely easy for customers to add attributes to reviews. Just a couple of clicks, and it’s done, so expect to see more and more of these showing up on your listing.
It will help prospective customers make an informed decision based on the strength and weaknesses of your business.
But it also means that Google is now able to access a new set of rich data to evaluate the performance of millions of small businesses on an almost individual level.
Unlike a written review, where content varies from one customer to another, attributes now provide structured context which is common to all businesses.
I am not a prophet, but you don’t need to be a genius to understand how Google is likely to use this new data as a ranking factor.
Let’s imagine you’re a handyman, and you have 100 5-star reviews, all of which include the following attributes: Good quality, good value and professional.
Let’s now look at one of your competitors who also has 100 5-star reviews, all of which include the following attributes Good quality, good value, professional as well as responsive and on time.
Which one do you think Google is likely to rank above the other?
Here is another idea to consider how Google may use these attributes.
Let’s say you run a car repair shop and the vast majority of customers leaving you a review use the attribute “Good Value”.
Surely that makes your Google My business listing a prime candidate when people are searching for cheap car repair shop near me or affordable auto repair near me.
These are basic examples, but you can see how Google is likely to utilize this data in the near future and will continue to dominate the online local search space.
This means paying attention to your reviews is going to be more important than ever before, and monitoring the attributes customers choose to leave for your business will provide you with key actionable insights.
Tracking Google review attributes
There are a couple of tools that have started tracking google review attributes, such as Gather up, but they are not free. Instead, you can download this Excel spreadsheet alternative I have created, which is free and very simple to use.
If the review also includes attributes, I will add them to the table right below that. Let’s say it includes the Good quality and Good value attribute, therefore I will increase the number by one for each of those attributes.
If however I receive a 1 or 2 star review I will follow the same principal and add the data to the critical row and critical attributes table.
The graphs will update automatically giving you a visual representation of your overall customer satisfaction and as time goes on if any issues arise.
In this example, there is clearly an increase of dissatisfied customers starting in May and escalating in August.
To find out what they were mostly unhappy about around that period, you would just need to look at the critical attributes graph in which you will see that at around the same time most clients who gave you a negative review were unhappy about your time keeping and also a lack of communication which would seem to go hand in hand.
How else would you find out these issues with such clarity? You can now put something in place to solve the problems.
This spreadsheet will also work if you want to improve on qualities your business seem to be missing.
This is exactly what the positive attributes graph can be used for.
In this example, this business does well for value and professionalism, but there is plenty of room to improve in other areas.
You may think filling in this spreadsheet is a bit cumbersome but, if you’re already doing your due diligence and are responding to all your customer reviews, consider including this as part of your process, it should only take an extra 30 seconds but will provide an invaluable amount of information.
Please note, you can’t collect the data directly from a Google My Business panel.
The best way to do this is to bring up your business listing in Google, click on reviews and sort by the newest.
The other thing you can do with this new data is leverage it with content on your website.
Creating additional local content based on review attributes
Earlier I mentioned Google is likely to use these new attributes to help rank businesses in local search results.
Therefore, it would make sense to use this information to create additional content pages on your website which would be in line with the most popular attributes your listing gets tagged with.
Let’s say you rent wedding venues in Florida, and your listing constantly receives reviews that are using the “good value” attribute.
This is such a clear sign you should create relevant pages on your website for similar terms to drive more visibility and traffic. Think, “low cost wedding venue in Orlando”, “affordable wedding venue in Miami ”, “cheap wedding venue in Fort Lauderdale” etc… the sky is the limit.
The more review attribute data you will be able to generate and collect from your listing, the more information you will be able to gather. So whenever you’re asking clients if they are willing to leave you a review, ask them to also include attributes.
Obviously you can’t blatantly say to them please add the “good value” or the “good communication” attribute to your review. They’ll probably think you’ve gone crazy.
Instead, send them a review request email in which you can ask them to leave you a review and suggest they can easily add specific business aspects in which you did well.
To make this easier for you, I have created an email template you can use as your own and send your clients.
That’s it for today. Best of luck with collecting reviews and until next time, happy marketing