How To Respond to Google Reviews: Owner Responses to Positive & Negative Reviews

With the latest updates to Google My Business, it is now even more important to learn how to respond to Google reviews the right way. Whether the Google reviews are good or bad, both positive and negative reviewers now receive an email from Google My Business letting them know when a business owner has responded to their review.

Now that reviewers on the Google platform will be even more engaged in the review process, you need to respond to Google Reviews to have a voice in what future customers are reading about your company when they are looking to make their next purchase.

Responding to Reviews

Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses.

-BrightLocal Local Consumer Reviews Survey

Internet savvy consumers are doing internet searches, gathering information, and making their buying decisions in seconds. Building a five-star reputation requires actively gathering new reviews, and online review monitoring ensures any negative reviews are addressed immediately, so your voice is heard in online conversations about your business.

The influence of customer reviews on consumer buying decisions continues to grow as the internet becomes the starting point for both online and local shopping. Learning how to respond to Google reviews helps you leverage the power of your online reputation.

Monitoring what customers are posting about your business and responding to both positive and negative reviews is the best way to protect your online reputation, gain trust with future customers, and earn new business.

New Notifications for Customers When You Respond to Google Reviews

In May, Google announced they are sending email notifications to consumers when a business has posted a response to a review, encouraging the reviewer to view the owner response. Not only does this up the expectations of consumers for business owners to respond to Google reviews, but it also makes leaving reviews a more interactive experience, enriching the experience for people who put in the time to leave reviews.

When you respond to Google reviews, the response will be immediately visible on Google Search and Maps, and the reviewer is emailed a notification like this one:

The importance of online reviews is growing as they affect not only how new customers view your business but also how Google ranks your business in local search engine results. Schedule time to be an active presence on Google and read further to learn how to respond appropriately to reviews and show future customers the high value you place on your customers’ experiences.

NOTE: You can only respond to Google reviews on “verified” Google My Business pages, so if you haven’t done this yet, go now to Verify a Local Business on Google.

How to See and Respond to Google Review – Instructions

Google wants you to respond to customer reviews, so they’ve made it incredibly easy to quickly get this done. On a desktop or mobile device, in just a few clicks you can respond to Google reviews, delighting happy customers and addressing negative reviews within minutes.


  • Sign in to Google My Business.

  • If you have multiple locations, open the one you’d like to manage.

  • Click Reviews from the menu.

  • Click Respond to respond to a customer review.Write a response and click Submit.


Do You Have a Plan to Monitor and Respond to Google Reviews?

Google reviews serve as 24/7 advertising, getting the word out about your company to customers searching on the internet – consumers in your community searching for your specific service.

Consumers trust customer reviews more than any web content or advertisement you could create and promote.  Your business should be consistently generating and posting online reviews to build and promote a positive online reputation.

A five-star online reputation moves your company up in search engine ranking and improves your visibility online. That means more people will see your business listings and reviews. Respond to Google reviews to thank customers and add information that shows future customers what they can expect from your business.

The Importance of Responding to BOTH Positive and Negative Reviews

Do you online respond to negative reviews? Ignoring positive reviews is a mistake many businesses make when managing their online reviews. While negative reviews need immediate attention, positive reviews should be looked at as well for opportunities to engage happy customers and highlight the positives about your business.

As customer interactions move from storefront to online, you will want to continue the spirit of exceptional customer service you give your customers in person. A positive review posted online by a customer is a powerful referral for new customers to try your business. You would want to thank a customer who referred you new business, and you can easily do that by responding to positive reviews.

By responding to positive reviews with your company name and the keywords, you want to highlight you boost the visibility and engagement of Google reviews you want to future customers to see. Additionally, the customer will be more like to leave a positive review if they feel that the business will respond to their review.

As described above, you can respond to Google reviews from your Google My Business account with just a few clicks.  Your response will be posted publicly as a comment from the business for all to see and the person leaving the review will receive a notice that you responded. This level of engagement makes customers more invested in your business and builds the type of loyalty that leads to repeat customers and referrals.

Finding time to monitor and respond to online reviews can be hard when running your own business. It is essential to prioritize the resources you spend on replying to reviews by how much a customer has invested in your business or the review. A detailed and in-depth review, whether positive or negative, should NOT receive a two-word response or no response. Conversely, don’t write a three-paragraph essay to a two-word review and spend valuable time responding to a short review customers won’t care to read.

Prioritizing time is especially important when you’ve got a system in place that consistently generates new customer reviews. To respond to reviews, you’ll want to include the following:

Use the reviewer’s name, show gratitude, highlight positives, and empathetically address negatives.


4 Star Review for Sharon’s Treats
Had the best chocolate cannoli EVER here on Saturday! Loved this little sweet spot and would have given in five stars but had to wait over 15 minutes to get a cannoli I could see in the case the whole time I was in line. – Greg D.
RESPONSE: Thank you for visiting Sharon’s Treats, Greg! Sorry the wait was so long. Saturday mornings are the busiest here but you can pre-order for faster pickup in the future. I’m excited you enjoyed the chocolate cannoli’s and hopefully you’ll get a chance to come back and try our maple bacon cupcakes – 2018 Winners of the Best Cupcake in Denver – on your next visit.

You’ll notice that the owner response is personalized with the name of the reviewer, thanks them for the compliment, and directly addresses their complaint while highlighting how to resolve the concern and something they should try on their next visit. These are the kind of responses that earn your business new customers.

Getting five-star reviews is the goal, but as you gather more Google reviews, the question you have to answer is not “What if I get a bad review?”, it is “How do I handle things WHEN I get a bad review?”

How to Respond to NEGATIVE Google Reviews

Receiving a negative comment or review online or on social media is inevitable in a hyper-connected, largely anonymous online community that is now global. Owner responses allow you not only to lessen the impact of negative reviews but also provides the opportunity to correct an issue or sooth a dissatisfied customer.

Fast and thoughtful customer-centered responses to less-than-positive reviews show future customers that you care about their experience and value their feedback as a way to improve your business.

Responses to negative Google reviews should:

  • Be prompt, short, and to the point

  • Customized to address the issue specifically

  • Offer an apology for the negative experience

  • Provide a resolution or improvement when possible

Separate Personal Feelings and Emotions from Responses

Someone bad-mouthing your business online can be a sensitive subject, right?  If you are passionate about your business, then it is natural to have a strong emotional response to a negative review, especially when you feel it does not accurately reflect your customers’ experience.

  • Small parking spaces in the strip mall parking lot isn’t a good reason to give your business four stars instead of five.

  • Lack of meat dishes at your vegan restaurant shouldn’t result in a one-star rating from someone’s disgruntled date.

Some things are out of your control, but even legitimate customer complaints can feel personal because you are emotionally and financially invested in your business.  It is vital that you keep your personal emotions and feelings separate from the business of managing your online reputation and responding to online reviews.

Whether justified or not, you can’t treat a negative review as a personal attack.  You will not be able to respond to Google reviews appropriately and in a business-like and professional tone when you’re fired up.  You have to set your mind to see the good in bad reviews and tackle this problem like any other business hurdle.

A Simple 3-Step Process to Manage & Respond to Google Reviews

Step 1: Designate a person to monitor and respond to Google reviews

If not you, who can you trust to watch your online reviews and provide a prompt and empathetic response online? This person needs to be able to present a sincere apology for the customer’s less-than-stellar experience without being aggressive or combative. Additionally, they must know enough about your business to be able to address the complaint and explain what has been done to correct the problem or how the customer’s experience could have been better.

Step 2: Compose a standard response that can be customized to respond to negative reviews

Create a response template for negative reviews with future customers in mind. Taking ownership of the issue and letting prospects know that your customers are important to you can turn a bad review into a good thing for your business.

Drafting a short, fill-the-blank response template now, before you get a negative review, lets you create a professional and business-like response before your emotions are involved. Plus, it ensures that the most important things you need to say (the apology, how much you care about the customer experience, and how you can make it right) aren’t forgotten.

Step 3: Respond promptly to negative reviews and watch for newer reviews referring to negative posts

It can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove a negative review but you aren’t helpless in regard to responding to negative Google reviews.

There are two things you can do to lessen the impact of a negative review:

  • Respond quickly in a way that lets readers know what to expect from your business.

  • Gather more positive reviews to drown out the one negative review.

Knowing the importance online reviews to your business, the person responsible for monitoring and responding to reviews should waste no time in posting a response to a fresh negative review sitting at the top of your review page.

When negative Google reviews show up online, you have an urgent opportunity to reverse the impact of the review. A sincere and empathetic response, coupled with an honest effort to “make it right,” can positively influence future customers by showing your honest, human interest in providing an exceptional customer experience.

Monitor and Respond to Google Reviews to Earn New Customers

According to the latest Local Consumer Survey results from BrightLocal, 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day. Additionally, Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more.

Are you managing the reviews that are influencing your next customer? Keep in mind that getting even one negative review online can have a direct impact on the trust consumers have in your business and your ranking in search engine results. Now is the time to add monitoring and managing your online reviews as responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses.

For small businesses who optimize their Google My Business accounts and automate their reputation management, emphasis should be placed on responding to Google reviews in a way that prospective customers reading reviews know you value the customer.

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