For years Google used the Yelp and Trip Advisor review engines and many people sent their clients to yelp and Trip Advisor to review them because it is a well-known fact that reviews boost SEO. After some troubles with snippets in 2011 Google places started using their own review engine and now Google users can review your place pages. If you are looking to increase your ranking in Google places reviews can certainly help with that, as you are rated compared to others in your area by the amount of good reviews you get.
If a good review can help you get more clients then a really good idea is to create a postcard or email that you send as a follow-up to your clients with the URL of your places page so they can go directly to your page to give you a review. People are basically lazy so hoping that they liked you enough to go look your page up and write a review is asking quite a bit, so I recommend you follow up and ASK for the review. Of course dangling a carrot of your thanks can only get them to actually do it. In that email or postcard you should think about rewarding them for a review. They review you and get something even I’d it’s a discount or gift card.
One thing you can count on is that is someone is unhappy with your services they will most certainly go out there to ruin your name without any offer on where to go. How do you deal with these bad reviews on Google? First thing is to respond when you are not immediately angry… Walk away and think about your response as it will forever be out there in cyberspace. Why did this client not like your services? What could you do differently? Can you offer to make it right? Do it publicly and do it fast don’t let the bad reviews sit out there without getting involved. But remember that you can make it worse with your response so tread very carefully.
The next thing to do is get more good reviews. If you are shopping around for something and there are 20 reviews and one is bad you take that one as a cranky guy and look at all the positive (the old adage you can’t make all the people happy applies here) But if you have five or six bad ones in the list of ten buyer beware so use this opportunity to drum up some good reviews and dilute that bad one.
If you have a terrible online reputation it can kill your business and there are companies out there that can clean up your bad reviews and build up the good ones for you. So if needed hire them but do not ignore the issues. These are there to stay and more and more people Google you before they do business. Do your homework and protect and control your online reputation.