Let’s admit it … getting your customers to write reviews can be very difficult no matter how outstanding your products and services are.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you can ignore the fact that you need reviews.

A key component of a successful Google+ Local (formerly known as Google Places) listing for your local business is getting several positive reviews.

Before you rush off to run a contest or offer bribes in exchange for reviews make sure you fully understand Google’s Policies and Guidelines as they relate to soliciting customer reviews:

“Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. Even if well-intentioned, a biased review can undermine its credibility. For instance, don’t offer or accept money or product to write positive reviews about a business”

Here are 7 popular tactics to try and increase your customer reviews … earning you improved local visibility and more potential customers!

(If you don’t already have a Google Places listing read our introductory Help Local Customers Find You with Google Places article first and note that Google Places is now merged with Google+ Local)

1. Ask Your Loyal Customers

One of the easiest places to start is asking your most loyal and happy customers. Perhaps you have a few customers that go way back. These customers are willing to do almost anything to help promote your business and see it grow. Simply ask if they would be willing to write a review on your Google+ Local. Help make it as easy as possible for them to do so!

2. Link Your Emails to Google+ Local

The footer in all your outgoing emails is valuable real estate. Along with your contact information try adding a link to your Google+ Local listing with a call to action to write a review.

3. Follow Up Emails

If your business normally sends follow up emails after a sale try adding a section that solicits a public review of the product or service. Sometimes a public place to voice their opinion is what your customers are looking for as it creates a greater sense of being heard.

4. Integrate with Your Site

If it isn’t already, make sure that your site is linked to your Google+ Local page. One idea is adding a “Review Us” section into your website with a link out to your Google+ page or adding the Google+ logo to your linked Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin logos.

5. Link Up With Your Suppliers and Partners

Does your business have key relationships with others in the industry? Why not do them a favor and write an honest review on their Google+ Local listing to see if they will do the same for you. There’s no harm in promoting your accountant, marketing consultant, office supplies vendor, building maintenance crew or anyone else you can write a thoughtful review for and honestly endorse. What goes around comes around!

6. QR Codes

QR codes are a great way to digitally engage your customers. All that your tech saavy customers will have to do is use their mobile phone’s QR app to snap a picture. Link your QR code to your + page and they will instantly be able to write their review. QR codes make writing reviews a one step process. You can place QR codes on your business card, brochures, receipts, invoices, tables and anything else that goes into your customers’ hands.

7. Ask Your Family and Friends

This may seem like the most obvious way to collect reviews but remember you have friends and family who have seen your business in action. It’s a great place to start if your reviews are far and few between. Just be careful if your business is named after your family and your four sons by the same name all write a review! It may look a little unusual.

Bonus Tip: How to Deal with Bad Google Places Reviews

Can I remove negative Google reviews?

The answer is no. In reality all businesses collect some negative reviews no matter how great they are. In order for reviews to remain unbiased you do not have direct control over what a customer says in a review and if that review is visible.

The best thing to do is respond to negative reviews in a positive and professional way. Offer to make it right. If the reviewer still doesn’t change their mind at least you have gained some lost credibility back from others who have read the review. In fact, studies suggest that customers are more likely to trust your reviews when they see both good and bad.

You should also try to get as many positive reviews to counteract the negative reviews! If a visitor comes to your Google+ Local and see 98 positive reviews and only 2 negative reviews they will likely have a good impression. Push those negative reviews down by getting a constant stream of fresh reviews.

For more information about Google Places Business Listing visit our Google Local Optimization page or contact our office today at 888-262-6687.