How to monitor and improve Google Places business reviews

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Managing the review element of your Google Places page can be a challenge – especially with regards to how to deal with negative or fake reviews from competitors so let’s take a look at how to handle this.

Step 1 – Negative or fake?
Try to be as objective as possible and decide whether the review is a negative or a fake review – this is not necessarily clear cut as I believe there are “prank” reviews which may be initiated by a teenager. Try to ascertain who has left the review: Are there any clues in the username? Some usernames will reflect the user’s “real world” name. Think back to see if there is a connection between any “prickly” customers you may have had.

Click on the username as this will allow you to view all of the reviews left by that user – this is probably the strongest indicator that it is a competitor or fake review as they will have a long list of negative reviews pertaining to your company and/or your competitors.

Reporting fake reviews
If you are convinced this is a fake review and have evidence i.e. the user has given bad reviews to several of your company branches / competitors in your area, then you should do two things:

1. Report the review as inappropriate and flag as “This post contains conflicts of interest”
2. Head over to the Google Places help forum and post a question

When posting a question in Google Places help forum, be objective and present all of the facts concisely – you might want to discuss how you will present your case with your partner or someone close to you before you post it.

Think of a clear concise title then try something like this:

“A competitor has given my business (and 3 other competitors) a one star review on 10th November 2011. On the same day, she has given her own business a five star review. Her username is the same as the business owner’s name. I have “Flagged it as inappropriate” but the listings remain.
Where can I go from here? Any help is really appreciated!”

Once you have posted, be patient. Wait about a month. If you have no joy, search for similar posts in the forum where someone from the Places support team has responded to a similar query and raise your issue (highlighting a link to your query).

Step 2 – Addressing negative reviews
If you have no proof that it is a fake review then you must take the assumption that this is a genuine piece of feedback – therefore you need to address it and tackle it head on.

Google recommend the following:
1. Be polite
2. Don’t get personal – be objective
3. Do not ask or offer the reviewer anything
4. Keep it short and concise
5. Thank people for positive reviews

In short you need to interpret the problem, write a response that addresses it objectively – apologising if it is a founded complaint – and be helpful.

Step 3 – Burying negative reviews
One of the best responses to bad reviews is to reach out to your customer base and ask for positive reviews. You can do this via your newsletter and even your email signature.

Scott Roemermann made me aware that if you put in the correct code you can extract the exact URL of your Google Places page and pop open the leave a review box (for those logged into their Google account).

Here’s what to do:

1. Find the CID of you Google listing which looks like this: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/place?cid=8686908827481111111

2. Add the following code to the CID: &dtab=2&action=openratings

To find the CID for your Google Places page you need to find your page in the results. Personally I then cut and paste the code into a Notepad file. You will get something like this:
http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/place?pq=xxxxx+uk+stockport&hl=en&gs_nf=1&cp=18&gs_id=18&xhr=t&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1600&bih=1099 &um=1&ie=UTF8&q=xxxxx+uk+stockport&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=xxxxx+uk+stockport&cid=868690882748111111&ei=KyZWT_OnF8LP0QXTps3HCg&sa=X &oi=local_result&ct=placepage-link&resnum=5&sqi=2&ved=0CGIQ4gkwBA

Scan the code for the CID parameter:
http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/place?pq=xxxxx+uk+stockport&hl=en&gs_nf=1&cp=18&gs_id=18&xhr=t&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1600&bih=1099 &um=1&ie=UTF8&q=xxxxx+uk+stockport&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=xxxxx+uk+stockport&cid=86869088274811111111&ei=KyZWT_OnF8LP0QXTps3HCg&sa=X &oi=local_result&ct=placepage-link&resnum=5&sqi=2&ved=0CGIQ4gkwBA

Then delete the unnecessary code:
http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/place?pq=xxxxx+uk+stockport&hl=en&gs_nf=1&cp=18&gs_id=18&xhr=t&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1600&bih=1099 &um=1&ie=UTF8&q=xxxxx+uk+stockport&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=xxxxx+uk+stockport&cid=868690882748111111&ei=KyZWT_OnF8LP0QXTps3HCg&sa=X &oi=local_result&ct=placepage-link&resnum=5&sqi=2&ved=0CGIQ4gkwBA

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About Geoff

I run the digital marketing for the UK division of a global supplementary education provider. To find out what I'm up to join me on Google+

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