We’ve covered reviews on Ripoff Report, reviews on Yelp, and reviews on Angie’s List in the last few parts of this reputation management guide. This section is about the specific nuances of reviews on Google Places. Since we’ve covered a lot of information about handling negative reviews in previous sections, I strongly recommend you review those posts as much of the information about handling negative reviews and generating more positive reviews is also relevant to Google Places.
What Is Google Places?
Google Places is a Google product that provides a company profile in its search results. The profile contains the local business’s address, phone number, website link, menu, Zagat information, and hours. It also shows images of the restaurant, helps potential customers where the business is on the map, and allows customers to read and review the business and have it show up on the profile page.
According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Since Google is the largest search engine, most of those queries will return their own search results from Google Places. In fact, Google Places is often a dominant result on the search results page, often at or near the top of the page and sometimes even featuring on the right-hand side of the page by itself. That’s why it’s important to learn more about Google Places and make sure that your company or brand is being represented in the best possible light.
In addition to your profile showing up whenever someone searches for your company name, you may also show up in broader searches that contain keywords related to your business. For example, if someone in San Francisco typed in “spa market street,” they will get listings for the most popular spas in this area. Signing up for Google Places can also drive highly-targeted and relevant traffic to your website, so your profile can be used as a lead generation tool in addition to a reputation management tool.
How To Respond to Negative Reviews on Google Places
I’ve offered a number of guidelines for responding to negative reviews in the Ripoff Report, Yelp, and Angie’s List sections of this reputation management guide. If you haven’t yet had a chance to read them, I recommend doing so before implementing any techniques shared in this article so you can get the full picture of how to use responses to manage your online reputation.
In addition to those guidelines, Google offers its own guidelines for responding to reviews by Google users on your Google Places profile.
Google recommends taking a friendly approach, thanking the reviewer regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, and keeping your response short, useful, and courteous. You can read their full guidelines here.
Lastly, Google allows business owners to add images and videos to your profile. Remember the case study I shared about the CEO video that earned an extra 5- figures per month back in the fifth section of this reputation management guide? A video can do a lot of damage control on negative reviews, simply because it allows you to establish likability and trust quickly with potential customers.
How To Resolve False Reviews on Google Places
Google Places is one of the most friendly to business owners of all the review sites we’ve talked about so far. With each review, they offer a link to flag the content as inappropriate.
There also have a public policy in place for removing reviews, which includes content that is unlawful, content that violates Google’s content policy, content that includes advertising or spam, content that is off-topic, and content that demonstrates a conflict of interest. You can read their full policy here.
How To Generate More Positive Reviews on Google Places
Since we’ve gone over gaining positive review sites in the Ripoff Report, Yelp, and Angie’s List sections of this reputation management guide, I wanted to focus on opportunities that are specific to Google Places.
(For best practices on generating more positive reviews for your company, I really recommend reviewing the corresponding section of my post on Yelp, because many of the same tactics apply.)
As with the other review sites, the key to getting more positive reviews on Google Places is getting people with Google accounts to leave reviews on your profile. Luckily, most people have a Gmail address that they are logged into on a regular basis, so they don’t even need to create an account to leave a review. Many of the tactics discussed in the Yelp article, like posting positive reviews in your store, using signage as a reminder, and engaging with potential reviewers on social media, will work for Google Places as well.
Here are a few other tactics that are specific to Google Places:
Optimizing Your Profile
Google products are typically integrated well and Google places a premium on rich information. Though the company doesn’t say it outright, it is believed that Google uses a local business’s online presence to determine the quality of that business, which determines how often and where it shows up in Google search results.
Google also has the technology to keep track of reviews on other sites, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Ripoff Report. It’s possible that these sites can affect your search ranking, based on how good your reviews are. The higher you are in rankings, the more traffic you’ll get (both web and foot traffic) and the more people you’ll have to review your site.
To optimize your profile, Google recommends filling out your Google Places profile completely and with accurate information. It also recommends building a strong online presence (follow this reputation management guide and you will be set on this point). Finally, it recommends choosing specific, niche categories for your business.
You can read the full guidelines here.
Google Places Advertising Opportunities
Google Places has two opportunities to advertise your Google Places profile:
- Adwords Express – This service incorporates ads for your business into relevant keyword searches, such as “best pizza in sf.” Google already shows Google Places profiles in a search result like this, but you can get your business moved to the top of the page by buying advertising.
- Google Offers – This new program is similar to the one we talked about in the Angie’s List post. It allows you to create offers with discounts or coupons that show up within the search results. You’ll also be highlighted on Google Maps and mobile devices, especially when the person searches for offers near their location.
Thanks for reading this part of the guide and if you have any questions, you can email me at Jun [at] ReputationHacks.com.