Google Maps Review: get involved in the conversation

This week Google unleashed another fantastic feature to really help small business owners further leverage their Google Maps (aka Places aka Local Business Centre) listing.

You can now respond directly to reviews (positive or negative) on your Google Maps listing.

A big deal – the ability to respond to positive AND negative feedback

This is a massive deal in my mind and is one step further along the social media path Google so desperately wants to be on, not to mention that business owners previously had no way of publicly responding to or engaging with people who gave negative feedback. That said, I have had some success in addressing false negative reviews that were submitted by competitors and disgruntled ex-staff by using the “flag as inappropriate” feature.

A fourth dynamic? Activity?

When I work with clients I often talk about the Traffic, Conversion, Trust model of online marketing and for a while I’ve been thinking about expanding this out and adding a fourth dimension: Activity.

With social media progressing forward at a rapid pace, Activity plays an increasingly important role in that it provides the visitor with an indication of responsiveness & engagement (therefore a rough indicator of customer service) and an indirect indicator of online success (if the online presence is getting a large degree of attention therefore it logically follows the business is doing a lot online, eg selling).

Prior to this new feature, Google Places pages were very static with no level of engagement (activity) at all from business owners – you do have the option to add a news piece for 30 days about up and coming events or other things going on with the business but I’ve yet to hear of anyone using this to gain a real advantage. Anyway, a Facebook business page can achieve the same outcome while simultaneously doing 20 other things for the business owner at the same time and while probably getting more traffic.

What is the benefit?

The new feature not only gives you the opportunity to respond to positive and negative feedback but also allows you to generate a quite a large degree of activity on your Google Places page. From an SEO ranking perspective I don’t know what benefit responding reviews will have – perhaps at 0.5-1% improvement in weighting but from a conversion perspective more activity and a high perceived level of engagement from the business owner is a massive deal.

How to use it

Google has some pretty good info about how to use the feature and how to effectively respond to positive and negative criticism so definitely worth checking it out.

In terms of getting in there and accessing the new feature, just log into your Google Maps/Places account, Click the “see listing on Google Maps” button and under each review you’ll see a box that says “respond publicly as business owner”

Give it a try and see how you go, would love to hear your feedback in the comments section.

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