Recently, Google changed its requirements for leaving a review on Google+ Local, formerly known as Google Places. But no name change can deter people from turning to Google to find local businesses, so it’s important to understand the impact of these recent changes and how your business should alter its review strategy accordingly.
To cut down on the amount of potentially fraudulent reviews and fake accounts, Google has adjusted the amount of information you have to give before leaving a review. The biggest change is the requirement for users to have a Google+ profile with their picture in order to leave a review for a business.
Before, any individual was able to leave a review on a business’ Google+ Local page anonymously. This meant any person, could write anything they want about your business, while hiding behind a vale of anonymity. This also allowed for some shady competitive sabotaging. By requiring people to show themselves, Google has made things better and worse at the same time.
On one token, the change made it more difficult for reviews to be faked. Plus, because people’s names will be displayed, it will most likely decrease the amount of flaming tirades against your business. However, now it will be more difficult for people to leave a review, which also affects positive reviews in the same way. So, some users won’t want to create an account just to leave a positive review and will opt to pass.
The best way to combat this barrier to leaving a review is to educate your customers on both the process of leaving a review and the importance of your business getting good reviews on Google+ Local. There is no question that positive reviews on Google+ Local directly impact your business’ ranking in search. If you want to rank in the top three spots on page one, your business will need reviews from real people with Google+ accounts leaving positive reviews.
You should communicate this to your customers. Convince them that a positive ranking on Google will help you provide better products and services to them and you are likely to get buy-in to the new process. Make sure you create a strategy for how you are going to communicate to your current clients and new clients about the review process. It is generally recommended you start with your best clients. After all, why ask for a review from clients that only kind of like you?
Jabez LeBret is the author of the Amazon No. 1 bestselling law office marketing book How to Turn Clicks Into Clients. As a partner at Get Noticed Get Found, a legal marketing agency, over the last nine years he has delivered over 800 keynote addresses in six countries. His main area of expertise is managing Gen Y in the workplace, advanced Facebook strategies, LinkedIn strategies, Google+, SEO, local directory optimization, and online marketing.