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How to Ask for a Review

In April 2018, Google updated its review guidelines to address the growing issue of review solicitation. In short, Google no longer allows what is known in the industry as "review-gating"—the practice of discouraging negative reviews.

Why is review-gating an issue?

To understand how review-gating works, picture a brand's webpage with a form asking you about your customer experience. If you provide positive feedback (3, 4, or 5 stars), you are sent to a page asking you to post a positive review on Google or another site. If you were to leave negative feedback (1 or 2 stars), you most likely won’t be sent to a page that asks you to share a review; instead, you would be redirected to internal customer service to get your matter dealt with privately.

To date, this has been a highly effective way for businesses to get positive reviews on their listings and improve their overall review rating. But now that industry giants like Google are specifically stating they are against review-gating—and threatening to remove all reviews of a business that gets caught—the risk is simply too high. If you are using a piece of software, you should make sure it doesn't use review-gating as a tactic.

So how do I encourage positive reviews? Is that even allowed?

This recent change in the review side of listings may prompt you to consider: "What is the correct way to ask for a review?" There are two different ways you can go about asking without breaking these new rules.

  1. Use email software, but don't practice review-gating

    This approach is risky for two reasons. Firstly, it can lead to an inadvertent increase in negative reviews on a listing because users are more likely to leave feedback after a negative experience. Also, soliciting reviews in this way is still technically against some service providers' guidelines, so there is some risk if you get caught. But if you stop short of review-gating, it may be less obvious that you are soliciting for these reviews. So you need to ask yourself: is the risk worth the reward?
  2. Solicit feedback from customers for internal purposes

    This feedback can be used indirectly to help improve the landing page experience, but its primary purpose is to improve the in-store customer experience across all your locations. If done right, this method can provide specific feedback about each individual store. If you improve the experience, it stands to reason that you online review scores will also go up. This method may take longer, but at the end of the day you will be offering an overall better experience, which will lead to a better bottom line.

This move against review-gating by industry giants is an attempt on their part to make reviews speak more truly to the customer experience and to deflate some of the inflated review scores that exist. We now need to learn how to play within the new rules that are set out for us.

Want to manage your local listings more effectively, respond to customer reviews across all your locations, and turn your online reputation into a force for growth? We can help. Contact ConvergenSEE today to learn more or to request a demo.

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