Google Places Reviews – All Change!

9:00 am Google Places

If you’re a business that finds value in appearing in the Google Places listings then you may find that some previous efforts to get good positioning are now redundant.

Here’s the most important part of the recent Google announcement about how Google Places has changed:

Review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages. Rating and review counts reflect only those that’ve been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the web, we’re continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe.

Translating that into easy speak …

If you had business reviews on other websites such as Qype, Freeindex, Yelp, Brown Book etc. then they now have no value in getting you a good position in Google Places.

Although Google will still list review summaries related to other websites, they will not provide snippets of those reviews in the Places results – just links to click on.  This means that people have to click on those links to go off to those review sites (see the screenshot below for an example of a company that has 2 reviews on Qype and 1 on Freeindex) …

All change!

So what does the “I want to be visible in Google Places listings” company do now?

Taken from the Google blog, the important part is the partial sentence of “Rating and review counts reflect only those that’ve been written by fellow Google users”, which translates as meaning:

Only people logged in to their Google accounts can leave reviews and it’s those reviews that Google will be taking notice of.

So it’s all change for the mindset of so many business owners and it will benefit every business to follow this process to help them get reviews on local business listings …

  1. Do a good job for a client (always a good start!).
  2. Ask the client whether they’d be happy to provide a testimonial.
  3. If they say “yes” then make it easy for them by providing them with a guide to posting reviews in Google.  Explain to them that their review will help make you more prominent.  ‘Make it easy’ means coming up with an email that you can send them that takes them through the process of:

    1. Creating a Google account (if they don’t already have one).  You can make it clear to them that they can use their Google account to provide reviews to other businesses that they  use, so it’s not just a one-use account setup.
    2. Clicking through to your Google Places page, selecting ‘Write a review’, completing the stars rating and typing in some positive comments. Keep an eye on your Google Places positioning and keep trying to beat your competitors.
  4. See every happy customer as an opportunity to get further reviews.  Most of your competitors are probably napping right now so it’s a good time to get proactive.

    Are reviews on other websites any use?

    Does this mean that it’s pointless getting people to review your business via all the review sites out there?  Not at all – extra reviews certainly can’t harm (as long as they’re positive).  However, you should give priority to getting reviewed via people’s Google accounts and anything else is a bonus.  Also, it’s probably not a good idea to repeat the same review in more than one location.

    It’s all part of Google social domination

    There’s a lot more to this change to Google Places than meets the eye and also more than I’ve covered here.    The real focus behind the change is Google pushing more towards being a good place to go to get insights into whether businesses are good or not.   By getting more people to sign up for Google accounts (so that they can post reviews), plus all the focus on Google +1, Google are continuing to push forwards as a serious social competitor to people like Facebook.

    Further reading

    A couple more blogs that also cover this subject are:

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