Best Practices To Manage Reviews In Google+ Local Pages – By A Google Employee
Google+ Local is a godsend feature for local businesses. It’s a feature within Google+ for businesses to establish their online presence. It’s extremely important for (at least, local and small) businesses to create a Google+ Local page. The page should be kept up-to-date in terms of description, address, contact details, pictures, videos (if any). The one thing that adds power to this entire equation is – Reviews.
In this article lets focus on why its important to have reviews for your Google+ Local page and what are all the (recent) best practices in managing reviews.
First of all, establishing a presence in Google+ Local is important in two ways:
1. Visibility in universal Google search:
According to Google, 20% of searches performed are local. With this being the case, when a user searches for a restaurant / hotel / cafe in Google, your business has a chance of displaying in the search results, that is only if you have a Google+ Local page. Agreed that your business page display is not guaranteed in the first page of result, but there is a possibility to display your page.
When your business page is displayed in result, Google also displays Zagat rating (if your page is a restaurant) right next to your business name. For all other business pages, the overall review score and number of reviews are displayed.
Needless to mention that reviews are BIG influencers for customers to make a decision. Reviews make or break a customer’s decision.
2. Visibility in Google+ Local search:
This is even more useful for you as a business. In Google+, user will be able to search for hotel / restaurant or other businesses. In this case, Google searches ONLY the Google+ Local pages and displays the results. This means, there are no sponsored ads, no PPC, no competition with other direct websites. Your business display competes with other Google+ Local pages.
Once you have a successful Google+ Local presence, the next logical step is to maintain it. You as a business owner can maintain everything in your page, except reviews. Reviews are entirely user generated, at least, that’s the way Google likes to be.
Your business can attract positive or negative reviews. When there are negative reviews in your page, how do you respond? Should you ask the reviewer to take down the review? Can you pay somebody to write review for you? Can your own business employees can write reviews? These are classical questions in review management.
One of Google’s employee answers these questions and gives a best practice approach to manage Google+ Local reviews.
According to the employee,
We’ve made some recent improvements to our spam detection algorithms that have increased the number of reviews that appear on some Google+ Local pages. We hope this improves your local experience!
Online reviews have been in the news a lot recently, and we at Google are committed to helping people to get ratings, reviews, and recommendations that are relevant, helpful, and trustworthy. To protect both business owners and customers from spam reviews, we have systems in place that may remove individual reviews.
No one likes spam, and we’d like to talk about what you can do to make sure all of the reviews on Google+ Local are useful, honest, and written by real people!
- Make sure you’ve taken a look at our review content guidelines.
- Sometimes you may want to review multiple locations of the same business, such as your favorite fast food chain. Just remember to tailor each review to the specific location. Others will want to know what sets that location apart – be it the super friendly drive thru person, or maybe the unexpectedly awesome lake views.
- Don’t write reviews for your current employer. We don’t allow reviews from current owners or employees.
- Spam bots use URLs to redirect to other sites or potentially spread malware. We won’t show reviews with links, so, don’t put URLs in the text of your reviews
For business owners:
- Be wary of an SEO or reputation management service that promises to generate reviews for your business. We’ve seen companies make up fake glowing testimonies — and we’ll take them down.
- We don’t take down negative reviews for simply being negative for anyone, regardless of any other relationships with Google. Instead, we encourage you to utilize the owner response functionality to respond to the review and address the user’s concerns.
- If a third party claims that they know how to remove reviews from Google, don’t believe them. Google does not work with any third party reputation management companies and we certainly don’t remove reviews unless they violate our guidelines.
- Don’t set up a computer or tablet device in your place of business for customers to leave reviews on site. Consider sending a reminder e-mail so customers can review on their own time.
- Remember, we don’t allow you to give customers free gifts or discounts for leaving reviews.
- If a business accepts paper comment cards it might be tempting to collect them and “digitize” them by posting the reviews on Google+ Local. We ask that all reviews come from first hand experience and do not allow posting reviews on behalf of others.
- If you see a review that violates our policy guidelines, you can report the review to us by clicking on the gray flag icon next to the review in question. You’ll be taken to a form where you can tell us why you’re flagging that review. Please note that we won’t follow up with you individually, but we do review every piece of content that is flagged.