A man and a woman stand at a wood-topped counter in a cafe or restaurant and look at the electronic tablet in the man's hands. The man has shoulder-length dark hair and a beard, and he wears a chambray shirt over a white T-shirt. The woman has long brown hair and wears a cream-colored top. An open laptop sits on the counter, along with several papers, two mug-and-saucer sets, a pair of glasses, and a partially filled coffee press. Behind the couple is a brick wall that holds several shelves and cabinets, which are filled with cups, plates, and jars of ingredients. Cooking tools and a wooden pizza slab hang from hooks mounted on the wall.
When customers leave reviews, make sure to respond to them. You can thank reviewers for positive feedback and offer an apology and potential fix for negative feedback. — Getty Images/LightFieldStudios

Google reviews can improve your search engine visibility, help you stand out from competitors, and make a good first impression on potential customers. And by understanding how to leave a Google review for businesses, you’ll be better equipped to teach your customers. Here are four steps to leaving a Google review.

[Read more: How to Cultivate Positive Customer Reviews]

1. Decide how to leave the review.

You can leave a Google review in two ways — through your browser or on Google Maps. If you’re on a phone or tablet, using Google Maps is the easiest way.

After you open the Maps app, you’ll search for the business you want to review. From there, you’ll click on the “Ratings'' tab, and you can rate the company based on a set of predetermined criteria.

You can leave a Google review through your browser if you’re using a desktop computer or laptop. Once again, you’ll click on the “Reviews” tab and then choose “Write a review.” And you can include more details about your experience than if you review on a mobile device.

2. Use your name and photo.

Google doesn’t allow users to leave anonymous reviews, so you must be logged into a Google account before leaving a review. The review will be public, and your name and photo will show up alongside the review.

Your review will be available through Google Search, Maps, and YouTube. It may also show up on any third-party sites displaying Google review widgets. Your review must comply with Google’s terms and conditions, and you can’t impersonate another person, leave a fake review, or share false information.

[Read more: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing]

When customers do leave a review, make sure to respond to every comment — even the negative ones.

3. Be specific.

It’s essential to leave a specific review regardless of whether your experience was positive or negative. Sharing details about your experience will help other customers decide whether or not to do business with that company.

Honestly share your thoughts about the business’s service, products, environment, and customer service. Don’t exaggerate or embellish your claims, and if you had a negative experience, try to leave constructive comments about how the business can improve. And make sure your review is timely — don’t leave a review about an interaction you had over a year ago.

4. Edit your review.

Businesses cannot edit or delete your review, but you can. Occasionally, you may leave a review and notice that it contains a typo, or you may feel like that review is no longer relevant. In that case, you may want to edit your review.

To do this using your mobile phone, you’ll start by opening the Maps app. You’ll select “Contribute” and scroll down to the review you want to edit. From there, you’ll click “Edit Review,” make the necessary changes and then post your updated review. If you’d rather delete the review altogether, you’ll simply click “Delete Review.”

[Read more: How to Monitor and Manage Customer Review Sites]

How to encourage customers to leave reviews

The best way to encourage customers to leave Google reviews is to consistently ask them and make it as easy as possible. Every time a customer visits your store or makes a purchase, ask them if they would leave your business a review.

Reiterate that leaving a review is easy and offer to send them a link. You can also share this review link through email, on receipts, and on your social media posts.

When customers do leave a review, make sure to respond to every comment — even the negative ones. Responding to negative reviews shows your customers that you care about their feedback and are willing to take steps to correct the situation.

It also gives you an opportunity to provide more context to the situation. However, customers actually find businesses with a mix of positive and negative reviews more trustworthy, so you don’t need to stress out over every bad review.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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