Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Google+ Local Basics 4/10 - Reviews Will Always Be Critical

Reviews are Number Four out of Ten Top Google+ Local Optimization Tips You Can Count On

Top listing is now Google+ Local.  Bottom Listing not Merged
just listened to Matt Cutts of Google for an hour in a Google Hangout.  He said it again.  The basics are the basics.  Good quality, original content.  Reviews are just that.  So how important are reviews now and in the future to your Google+ Local ranking?

Google can't quite seem to decide how many points to award for those SMB's who do a great job of getting reviewed on Google Places/Google+ Local.  A couple of years ago it appeared you could rise or fall based on reviews.  Now there seems to be a couple of milestones that matter: 
    ✓    Any review is better than none
    ✓    Five reviews seems to get you some Google Love
    ✓    Some say it takes 100 reviews before Google adds more points
    ✓    All of this is subject to change at a moment's notice

What we do know about reviews is that they move people to action.  What we also suspect is that Google will come back to using reviews as a strong signal.  There are several reasons for this.
Primary among the reasons is that reviews are unique, relevant, useful content, the very thing that the Goog loves.  Now that the reviews will be coming through Google+, the reviewers can no longer be anonymous, making the content even more likely to be honest, unique, relevant, and useful.  This is even better for the Google business model.

It almost goes without saying that Google is in a battle royal with Yelp to be the #1 business review channel.  They should easily acquire that title with the new Google+ method of acquiring the reviews.  It is both simple and eliminates the complaint all businesses have about fairness in allowing some reviews and not others.  IMHO, the Yelp model is very badly broken and harmful to many businesses. 

As quickly as your Google Places site is merged with Google+ Local, start sending your customers to their own Google+ accounts.  There they can look up your company, the they will see the write a review prompt.   Or they can Google your company on the regular search, map search, or places search.  Once finding you, they can click on your listing.  There they will see the option to review.

You should be pulling out all the stops to get your favorite and happiest customers to review you.  You can do this even if you have not had the merger of Google+ Local and Google Places, and it appears that the reviews are being appropriately transferred.  However, the expectation is that these mergers will all be complete in July, so you might want to wait.

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