How to Get More Google Reviews using Neuroscience

A blueprint for how to get more reviews on Google


Get More Google Reviews Using NeuroscienceYour business’s Google rating can make or break your business. Of all the business reputation indicators it’s the most visible – often displaying before ads and web pages in search. This makes it the most important reputation score.

The best businesses take a proactive approach to reputation management. This means identifying your happiest customers and encouraging them to write reviews. But, many business owners have found this time-consuming with little or no reward.

I’ve sent thousands of review requests on behalf of clients in the last few years. Using A/B testing and applying cognitive research, I was able to optimize and increase the response rate by 5x.

The result is the process below – follow these steps, and you’ll get more Google reviews.

Identify Your Happiest Customers

The first step is identifying your happiest customers. The best way is through an online survey. SurveyMonkey is one option. Their free plan allows up to 10-question surveys, unlimited surveys, and 100 responses per survey.

Survey Email Subject Line: [Company Name] – Your Opinion Matters!

The Practical Reason: This subject line outperformed all others in terms of open rate.

The Neuroscience Reason: Using “you” or “your” instead of impersonal pronouns can create a stronger emotional reaction.

Survey Email Body:

Hello! Your opinion matters to us, and I was hoping you would complete this short survey about your recent [visit, appointment, purchase] – it should take less than 2 minutes to complete. Thank you for your input!

The Practical Reason: This email copy outperformed all others, with up to 41% survey response rates.

The Neuroscience Reasons:

  • Using “your” again.
  • Reducing perceived friction by keeping the email request brief.
  • Reducing real friction by keeping the survey under 2 minutes.
  • Saying “thank you” shows gratitude which can increase willingness to respond.
  • Conversational style with personal signature can create a better ‘liking’ effect than a blatant mass email.
  • Personalizing the email would probably even more powerful (e.g. Hi, Brian!), but this can be burdensome if you have a lot of customers and don’t use email software that makes personalization easy.

Survey Questions:

You need to keep the survey under two minutes (as promised). This means including fewer than 10 questions and using multiple choice answers. The two questions you must include are:

Based on your overall experience…how satisfied are you with [Business Name]?
(Completely Satisfied, Very Satisfied, Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Not At All Satisfied)

Based on your overall experience…how likely are you to are you to recommend [Business Name]?
(Definitely Would, Probably Would, Maybe, Probably Not, Definitely Not)

These questions allow you to find customers who are completely satisfied and would definitely recommend your business. It also sets the stage for next step, which leverages cognitive biases to increase engagement.
How to Get More Google Reviews using #Neuroscience Share on X

How to Request Reviews

After you’ve found your happiest customers that would definitely recommend you, it’s time to ask for the review.

Review Request Email:

Hi there – can I ask you for a favor?

In your survey (thank you!) you said you were happy overall and that you would definitely recommend [Business Name].

Would you mind sharing your experience in an online review? It would be really helpful to other customers [or patients/clients/etc.].

The best site for this is Google: [Direct Link to Google review box]

Thanks in advance!

– Brian

The Neuroscience Reasons:

  • Research shows us that asking for one favor first can greatly increase the probability of success with the second favor. In this case, the first favor is the survey.
  • Saying “Thank You” shows gratitude, and can increase response rate.
  • Reminding them they were happy and would definitely recommend invokes Cialdini’s principle of consistency and commitment. This principle says we feel obligated to align our actions with what we’ve committed to do.
  • Describing the helpfulness of reviews for other customers can motivate some who tend to be altruistic.
  • A direct link to the Google review box eliminates friction. Create your link here.
  • “Thanks in advance!” – Another expression of gratitude, but this simple phrase topped the results in a study of response rates.
  • Conversational, short, and from a person. It feels like a direct request rather than an automated response.

Until early 2018, you could adjust the Google review URL to display the review box AND auto-populate a 5-star review. Google updated their link structure so this is no longer an option. While this does add a tiny bit of friction to the process, I haven’t seen it affect the response rates.

Once you receive reviews, it’s a good practice to respond to the review publicly and thank the customer. When potential customers see engagement from a business along with positive reviews, it helps build trust and likability.

After accumulating about 5 reviews, Google will display your star listing next to your business.

Keep Testing

Everyone’s business and customers are unique. Use this guide as a starting point, but try making a few enhancements and use A/B testing to find the sweet-spot for your business.
Do you need more Google reviews? Here are brain-based tactics to get more 5-star ratings. Share on X

  1. Apivut Chakuthip says

    Hi Brian, very interesting article. I really enjoy it. We send a lot of emails out each month but never thought about using neuroscience in each sentence. It’s a new perspective for me. Cheers, Apivut

  2. Brian Dooley says

    Thanks for your comment, Apivut. If you decide to test this approach, I’d be curious about your results. All the best, Brian.

  3. Saijo says

    Hi Brian

    Thanks for mentioning our (Supple’s ) review link generator tool 🙂

  4. ben says

    Very helpful. The canned response tip is one I will definitely be putting to use. Will save me a lot of time. 🙂

  5. Philippe LeCoutre says

    The only problem with your approach is that you suggest what is called gating, and this is against Google TOS and FTC rules.

    1. Brian Dooley says

      Thanks for your comment, Philippe. Recent changes to Google’s content policy do prohibit “selectively soliciting positive reviews from customers.” So, a Starbucks barista who asked a friendly regular to leave a review but didn’t ask the grouch who complained his coffee was too hot would be in violation. These rules were largely put in place after some abuses by large software companies – not in response to local companies asking friendly customers for reviews.

      That said, you’re correct – to be 100% compliant with Google’s review guidelines, this approach would need to be modified.

      From an FTC perspective, there are no issues with this approach. FTC rules prohibit financial penalties for bad reviews, prohibiting reviews as part of a contract, etc. For more on the FTC’s Consumer Review Fairness Act, check out their guidance article:

  6. Duncan Jones says

    Great article Brian – especially liked the micro-commitment of getting them to answer the survey first, review second. Something I have found a lot of success from as well!

    The only thing i’d add is to make sure any templates you use are customised into your own brand voice – adding quirkiness or however you normally speak in your email marketing to customers should help improve completion rates.

    I have written a guide to reviews as well which you might get some ideas from Brian, you can check it out here:

  7. Joe Frisbie says

    This is a nice article with good examples. Unfortunately the first paragraph is so erroneous. Google and Google alone determines where you rank. After a two year investigation the FTC determined that Google’s practices were “monopolistic and harmful to internet users and competitors.”
    That aside it is always prudent to upgrade and optimize your site for the benefit of your customer.

  8. Jen Thames says

    Interesting post, Brian. It makes sense to target your happiest customers, you’ve given tips on how to pin point them. Obviously, real people, as well as Google, like to see negative reviews mixed in, so no one would want to have all positive reviews. It makes it more believable. But, targeting the happiest, while reminding them they were happy about you just makes sense. Why would a customer not explain themselves, having already stated the positive? We can’t forge to respond to reviews, negative or positive.

    1. Brian Dooley says

      Thanks for your comment, Jen – I agree. If a business only has 5-star reviews it looks fishy. Identifying your best customers may be a good way to repair your reputation, but probably isn’t the best start-to-finish approach to reputation management. IMO, a 4.8 or 4.9 rating is optimal.

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