Google Places Reviews Are Impossible To Get

Posted by Ad Hustler | Posted in Local Online Advertising | Posted on 25-01-2012

As we all know reviews go a long way online.  Social proof is a huge influencing factor in buying decisions made online.  If you’re a local business and Google Places is attached to your Google listing, you reputation on Google Places means everything.  The problem is that most local businesses don’t have many Google Places reviews and the ones they do have, tend to be bad because people put forth a lot more effort to complain then they do to praise.

We do reputation management for some of the clients we handle.  Getting our clients legitimate positive reviews from their customers is no easy task but we consider ourselves to be pretty good at it.  As part of our process we ask the client for their customer database and then send out an email requesting reviews.  We separate their list by people who have gmail accounts from people who don’t.  The gmail users are asked to leave a review on Google Places whereas the non gmail users are asked to leave a review on an industry specific website. The reason we do this is that you can’t leave a review on Google Places without a google account.  We assume that if someone has gmail then they are already logged into their Google account and hence it should be incredibly easy to leave a review.

What we find is that far more people will leave a review on another review site then they will on Google.  I’ve pondered why that would be and here are some reasons I can come up with:

  • People want to feel anonymous when they leave a review online and by leaving a review tied to their Gmail account they don’t feel anonymous.
  • They don’t think of Google as a place to leave reviews.
  • The interface is confusing.

I opt for reason #3 being the interface is confusing.  Let’s take a look at Googles review area vs an industry specific review site that we use a lot.

Google Places:

Industry Specific Review Site:

As you can see the Google Places interface for leaving a review leaves a lot to be desired.  It doesn’t break anything down.  It just asks for a star rating and a comment.  Then when you select a star rating it pops up with some annoying message that makes no sense to the user.  They aren’t joining a social network.  They just want to leave a freakin’ review.

When you look at the industry specific review site you see that they break down the review into categories like customer service, price etc etc.  In my experience this review site gets way more completions then Google Places does.

We’ve made it to the end of my ramblings but without a real solution.  How do you get customers to leave more Google Places reviews? (and don’t say give them something free)

Let’s hear your take in the comments.

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Comments

  1. When amazon still released buyers email addresses, there was an app that allowed you to email the buyers a form like the “Industry Specific Review Site”. Customers were then able to click the necessary icons, and it generated a suitable feedback. Each customer something else. Might help here too.

  2. Treat a customer right they’ll tell a friend.. treat a customer wrong they will tell everybody.

    I’d suggest something similar to what Ezriel said. (might be doing a little project like this on my own)

    If you have a client that sends emailed receipts maybe just give them a link to “rate us!” we use google places for our customers to review us if you had a great experience please share it here. [link]

    or something of that nature.

  3. @Scotch – No shit sherlock – did you read the post? We are already emailing the customers.

  4. Just buy them.. like your customers’ competition is already doing. Get em’…

  5. i have no morals i would just buy them on fiverr

    i actually go out of my way to leave reviews for local businesses i like.. and i get frustrated when they dont have anywhere to leave a review. i had to ask the owner of a cleaning service where i can leave a review online and they were baffled and didnt respond.

    Sometimes i want to yell at small businesses for not doing simple things that would help their business.

  6. Yeah, you can buy them; we all know people do that. But if you want to wear your gray hat for a bit, you can get written testimonials the business may already have (or have them start requesting them), create gmail accounts and then convert those testimonials into Google reviews.

    It’s not completely legit, but at least they are the opinions of real customers.

  7. @hustler. I did and you said you sent out emails to the database asking for reviews, I suggested including it in emailed receipts to get them to fill it out shortly after a transaction.

  8. educate the consumer, a short personalized video on the clients website going through the steps on how to leave a review is my approach. you might think it tedious, but it does raise the conversion.

    buying reviews is a weak solution and can potentially damage the business. “slow money better than no money”

    the key here is hand-holding the consumer and letting them know what to do, and why it’s important, if the businesses service is important to them, they will go through with the review process.

  9. I’ve found that getting the review on the spot, immediately after they received their service, works the best. We were doing that with a computer in the office, but then found that google flagged the IP’s as duplicates (duh). We then just started asking people to use their phones – we send them a link on the spot to the review.

    Obviously, it’s easiest with Android users as they are already signed in. They don’t leave long reviews, but they’re generally all 4 star+, and read “great service” or “nice staff”. So they don’t look like raving fans or anything, but the numbers help. And yes, it does sound repetitive, but we do bribe people sometimes. “Would you like $20 off your next visit? Great, open your email on your phone…great, I’m going to send you a quick review link right now…go ahead and open it…etc”. Sounds gay, but it works. I’ve only used this in service-based businesses that are local. We haven’t done it all for our online stuff.

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