According to recent research, only about 1.4 percent of local businesses, with a verified Google My Business listing, respond to reviews left about their business. Even less liked a Google review but ultimately didn’t even respond to the review. This recent research shows the sad state of Google Review responses. Local businesses, even those who have claimed their Google My Business listings, don’t feel that it is important enough to respond to Google reviews.
Ed Costello and Sons, a Paving and Sealcoating Contractor in New Jersey, has a listing with over 12 five star reviews. Despite this, their Google My Business listing remains unclaimed, and there is no website listed for the business. This is an example of the thousands of GMB listings that are unclaimed.
In September 2018 research performed by Holly Starks and made exclusively to me, 2,000 five-star reviews were left on local businesses with Google My Business listings. After two weeks, only 28 local businesses replied to a review. 8 companies liked the reviews that were left–but didn’t reply. 12 companies liked the review and replied. 8 companies replied but did not like the review.
- 2,000 5-star reviews left on Google My Business Listings.
- After 2 weeks, 28 local businesses replied to a review.
- 8 companies liked the review left for them but did not reply to the review.
- 12 companies liked the review and replied.
- 8 companies replied but did not like the review.
According to Starks, many of these businesses are not taking advantage of good old fashioned customer service. She told me, “once someone leaves a review about a business, that business should respond to the review. Even if it’s a positive review, they should acknowledge the review and thank the customer.” It’s the response that will keep that customer coming back and, ultimately being a customer advocate for the business. If they took the time to leave a review, especially a positive review, they should be thanked.
Other Information Revealed In GMB Listings
I reviewed the data that Holly Starks obtained during her research, and it’s quite revealing. 9,392 Google My Business listings were reviewed. 6,448 GMB listings are marked as being claimed. Only 78 of the 9,392 GMB listings have virtual tours (360 degree photos). 254 have over 100 reviews. 1,473 of those 9,932 GMB listings have an HTTPs URL associated with them.
- 9,392 GMB listings’ data reviewed.
- 6,448 GMB listings are claimed (68 percent claimed)
- 2,944 GMB listings are unclaimed (32 percent unclaimed).
- 78 of the 9,932 GMB listings have a virtual tour.
- 254 have over 100 reviews.
- 1,473 have moved their website to HTTPs
- 2,562 GMB listings have no website associated/linked on the listing.
- 1,093 GMB listings are claimed but have no website associated/linked on the listing.
While there are a significant number of Google My Business listings that were found to be claimed (68 percent are claimed), there is a significant number of GMB listings that are unclaimed. As someone who is personally a verified Google Street View Photographer, I find it very interesting that only 78 of the nearly 10,000 GMB listings actually have a virtual tour added to their GMB listing. I thought this was much higher, but that’s rather surprising. I do think it’s important to allow your potential customers see your business–but keep in mind that the majority of these 10,000 GMB listings were home services businesses. They may or may not have a physical brick and mortar location. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have a virtual tour.
27 percent do not have websites–which is, again, surprising to me.
Not Responding To Reviews Is Bad
One of the worst things a business can do, in my opinion, is to not respond to a review. I understand that they may not be aware that someone left a review on their Google My Business listing. But, Google lately has been sending emails to the business (the verified email address of the business), telling them that someone left a review.
This, in my opinion, the responding to reviews, should be a part of the social media manager’s job–they should be monitoring mentions of the business on all social channels, responding, and watching the reviews left on Google My Business. It’s not very difficult or time consuming to respond to a review, even if it’s “Thanks for leaving us a review!” or “Thanks for leaving a review. We are glad you had a great time.”
How Many GMB Listings Are Unclaimed?
In additional research that Holly Starks performed, she did another random sort of test–scraping 10,000 Google My Business listings. Of those 10,000 Google My Business listings, 2,500 of those listings were unclaimed. These all were home services businesses, in a handful of States across the United States.
- 10,000 Google My Business Listings reviewed.
- Approximately 2,500 GMB Listings are unclaimed.
- Many are ranking well for keywords (meaning they’re showing up in the 3 Google Maps listings)
- Many have the wrong phone number.
An unclaimed Google My Business listing also means that the GMB listing can be hijacked–thus the wrong phone number, potentially sending customers to call a competitor instead. Not only can the phone number can be changed, but the website URL, category, and even the name can be changed.
While Holly Starks’ recent research about Google My Business listings is revealing–it does show some good insight into what’s really going on with Google My Business listings. Listings are unclaimed and local businesses, even though they have the ability to respond to listings, don’t respond.
It’s sad–local businesses either don’t care or they don’t see the advantage of Google My Business listings and what they’re missing.
Where there are some things that Google could do to help and encourage businesses to respond to reviews, they are telling businesses when people leave reviews. If a business doesn’t want to respond or they don’t have the time to respond, Google could take an idea from Facebook–allow for a custom response to be set up by the local business. If someone responds, they could auto-respond with a message, asking reviewers to get in touch with them via phone, email, or via their website.
For the other issues, such as unclaimed listings, there’s not much else that can be done–this data gives us insights into what appears to be the state of local business. They just may not care about their Google My Business listing, don’t have the time to deal with it, or don’t think it’s important enough to maintain. But for those small businesses that truly understand the importance of it, they’re the ones benefiting from responding to reviews, keeping their information up to date, and posting photos on a regular basis. For home services businesses, that ultimately means more leads and more customers.