Google Official - Reviews Will Not Come Back on G+ Local Pages

Linda Buquet

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NoMoreGplusreviews.jpg

There has been much speculation and debate about the fate of Google+ Local pages, especially since the new Google+ update (preview) came out.

By now most of you are aware that the whole review piece (and several other important pieces) are totally missing from the G+ Local pages. In my post about the <a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/google-local-important/38334-new-google-impact-google-local.html">New Google+ and Impact on Google Local</a> I shared a comment Google had made to Ben Fisher saying the update was not finished and many features would be added back, including local features.

I predicted that reviews and images would probably be coming back, because they are so important to Google and there have been recent GMB updates improving and emphasizing both.

I don't have all the answers when it comes to Google. I usually make pretty good observations and am usually right, but in this case sadly no... REVIEWS ARE NOT COMING BACK.

The Google My Business Community has been getting complaints (as you can imagine) about the review option being missing on the new Google+ pages.

OFFICIAL WORD FROM GOOGLE:

Per Elizabeth, our Google Community Manager.

<a href="https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Enhance-Your-Presence/New-Google-Update-doesnt-show-our-Reviews/td-p/482441">New Google+ Update doesn't show our Reviews!? - The Google Advertiser Community</a>

Reviews will no longer be shown on Google+ Pages in the new Google+ design. Reviews are still accessible on Google Search and Maps which have always been the primary way that users find business reviews.

So there is the obvious statement - reviews are not coming back on the new G+ pages.

Then there may be a subtle underlying statement, something many of us have suspected for a long time. "Reviews are still accessible on Google Search and Maps which have always been the primary way that users find business reviews." In other words (my interpretation) not many people went to, looked at, or used Google+ Local pages.

Now I would posit that's due to changes Google made. When they started showing reviews right in the overlay on search, there were less reasons to go to the page. Then when they removed all the links it was practically impossible for the average consumer to even find the page. However, aside from the fact that Local is being distanced from G+, maybe the whole point is not many even looked at the G+ L pages to begin with. Likely folks like us and business owners were the main visitors to those pages. The great majority of Google users - every day consumers, probably didn't visit those pages very often.

So we need to get used to the fact AND educate our clients that Google Local is no longer about the G+ L page. The data and images we enter into GMB and the reviews are just as important as ever. However the main places the data & reviews will show up for consumers (currently), is right in search, the Local Finder, the Knowledge Graph and Google Maps.

So as I show in the image up top - you should review your client sites and emails to see how they are asking for reviews. Not only will the process change now, but the messaging and images may need to be revised as well.

As far as figuring out the best review link to give customers now, don't fret, our smart pros have already figured that out for you. In fact a tool to make it all much easier was born out of that discussion:
<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/local-reviews/38343-google-reviews-hacks-creating-review-url-strings-new-google.html">Google Reviews: Hacks for Creating Review URL Strings with the New Google+</a>

Keep on keeping on and remember what I always say in a gif...
GoogleChange.gif
 

Scott Rawlins

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While I can certainly understand removing reviews form the new G+ L pages, it's nonetheless disappointing for us pros.
 

Linda Buquet

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Hang on folks. I tried to be as clear as I could be in the post title and content.

But some people are still misinterpreting and/or did not read the full post explaining why reviews are still as important as ever...

TITLE: Reviews Will Not Come Back on G+ Local Pages
NOT: Reviews are going away totally.

I also said: "So we need to get used to the fact AND educate our clients that Google Local is no longer about the G+ L page. The data we enter into GMB and the reviews are just as important as ever. However the main places the data & reviews will show up for consumers, is right in search, the Local Finder, the Knowledge Graph and Google Maps."

I want to share some important comments from my G+ post.

Ryan Scollon
This is really surprising. Especially as Google have really pushed the Local Guide thing recently. You think they would want to show them off as much as possible

Peggy K
I don't think it's that surprising. Google hasnt publicly pointed to reviews on G+ for a while. And with the new G+ emphasis on content, communities and Collections, business reviews don't really fit in.

Linda Buquet
+Ryan Scollon​ if you read full post - reviews are not going away at all. Just as important. It's G+ Local as a "page" that is being de-emphasized like Peggy said.

Tim Capper
I hope we get better info on this. How will a business: respond to a review, flag a review - currently unavailable in Maps.

Guess that is an end to embedded reviews, but what about the api, will that still work etc etc

Peggy K
+Tim Capper​ it would make sense for review management to move to GMB wouldn't it?

Tim Capper

+Peggy K makes sense. A little tab somewhere in the dashboard so business owners can manage / keep an eye.

Linda Buquet
+Tim Capper and +Peggy K review management is already in the GMB dash. That's where you can respond to reviews. That's what the "Manage reviews" button is for. When you click there it says view and reply.

And you would not flag reviews in maps because they are not connected to maps per se, they are connected to GMB. So you use the GMB report options now I guess.

Linda Buquet
You can also, as always, flag reviews when you pull them up in search or the KP. Just hover over one and you'll see the report flag.

Linda Buquet
Oh and Tim, not sure why you think embedded reviews would be affected. I think they should still show because reviews still show in maps. And when you click they just come up in the overlay. (Aside from the current embedded map review bug, which I hope is not related.)

--------

So for those that have not been following all our conversations here about these issues...
(Sorry for assuming most pros were aware...)

Since the G+ L links are all gone, no one is going to see that page any more anyway.

We all got used to thinking of the PAGE as Google Local. We need to change our thinking.

Google Local data (listings and reviews) are wherever Google chooses to show the local data and which right now is in the most important places: right in search, the Local Finder, the Knowledge Graph and Google Maps


Let me quote the wise words of Darren Shaw from the forum discussion I linked to at top of this thread:

I don't really see the big deal. Hardly anyone ever went to the Google+ pages, other than SEOs and the business owners. They have made it virtually impossible to get to the page from the search results.

Photos, reviews, and About have just moved to Maps or the Local Finder, which we can consider the new home for our listing at Google. They want to separate G+ from local, and they have pretty much put the final nail in the coffin with this update. G+ is a now a social platform only, and no longer a local business listing site as well.

The impact I see is this:
- listing analysis and dupe discovery is a little harder for SEOs now
- We have to update the link we send people to to read/write reviews
- We have to update our links to our Google listing

I don't really mind. Google Plus just becomes less and less important for local search and we'll focus on the data we see in Maps, Map Maker, and the Local Finder.

Hope that helps clarify. I had a hard time with the writing on the wall at 1st too, but now it's starting to make sense.
 
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Thanks for the quote, Linda.

Ben, that's a good share. This support document on reviews, combined with the fact that the Google Places API returns a Maps URL, makes it pretty clear that we can start thinking of the Google Maps URL as the new home of your business' listing on Google.

Think of Google+ as some weird abandoned social networking site. From now on, it has very little (or maybe nothing) to do with local search.
 

Dave

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Linda: While I don't see the disconnect between a local business in search from a G+ page as important, and agree with Darren, I'll add that reviews are or can be utterly critical and will or can be seen in search as clearly and visibly as before.

For 2 of our smb's we really focused on adding reviews in ...say the last 1.5 to 2 years. We have probably increased total reviews by a factor of 3. Our review totals in Google are far greater than those of competitors.....by a lot.

Most critically they are great. That is a function of great staffs providing great level of services. The review ratings range above 4.8 ....and they are from real customers.

For these two smb's we manage to speak to an enormous number of customers while they use our services. Among reasons why they chose the two smbs---Google reviews. (not the only reason but an increasingly important one)

They are front and center in search....and potential customers rely on them.

I'll add something. In our efforts to add relatively large quantities of reviews we started asking for them on site--a review center, or review station if you will.

Of course that made it easier to acquire them; far higher response rate than requesting them by email.

But google frowns on that practice. We probably lost 15 to 25% of the new reviews. We have never gotten them back. Among the ones we lost were one's during that period which were written from afar, not at our locations.

They are lost. I don't expect to ever see them again.

Regardless reviews are ever as important as they were before. Give great service. Ask for reviews. Keep it up. They are valuable to the bottom line. Do not acquire them on site in a review station.
 
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Thanks, Linda! And Darren is spot on: While this change seems big--and certainly I was CURSING it as we were up to 3am last Thursday pinging the Google Places API to update tens of thousands of Google links in our review campaigns :)--it really just solidifies what we already knew: that the value of Google reviews is not to be found on our barely visited G+ profiles, but in local searches! (i.e. on SERPs, maps, KG and so on)

In terms of review acquisition and getting customers where they need to be, G+ may no longer be an option, but there are as many options as ever. And people are tired of hearing me say it, but I still like driving customers to the GMaps apps with device-specific links. So we finally "toolified" our link generator for these as well as several browser-based options:
https://www.grade.us/home/labs/google-review-link-generator

Would be curious what people think of this approach...
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Jon, anxious to look at it when I get back. Bet it's another great option knowing the work you guys do!
 

Linda Buquet

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Just covered Stan and Jon's tools in a new post here:

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/google-local-important/38410-free-tools-generating-google-review-links-now-g-reviews-gone.html">Free Tools for Generating Google Review Links now that G+ Reviews are Gone</a>
 
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Hi all (and Linda, thanks for getting me back on here), based on a few comments here, I have one primary question:

Is there really much point any longer to be generating new content on a G+ Local Page?

I believe someone mentioned that the current G+ Pages will barely be visible to the public now, even in Search. If the local business comes up in Search, it will be through the Knowledge Graph or Maps, is that what I'm understanding? If that's the case, then what's the point of continuing to post photos or content to a Local Page?

It seems to me that Google is basically abandoning the Local Pages, so I just want to know if I should bother putting any more effort into mine or not?

If there are other conversations on this already, please feel free to point me there, as this thread is primarily about Reviews.
 

Linda Buquet

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Hey Chip and welcome back!

Here is a thread that's more generally about Google+ Local pages:
<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/google-local-important/38334-new-google-impact-google-local.html">New Google+ and Impact on Google Local</a>

But to answer your Q. No reason to stop posting or adding images to your G+ Local page

IF you've already been focusing there as you have
IF you've built up followers there as you have
And IF you are directly promoting that page.

So think of it this way. Your local info that you hope will show up in search to potentially attract new patients - still shows up. Just not as a G+ L page anyone can ever get to from search to see. All your data just shows up right there in search or maps or Local Finder or Knowledge panel.

If existing pts search for you to look up your phone # or whatever, you still show up, just not on a G+ L page.

But if you still want a SOCIAL presence on G+ and if you have followers or directly promote your social presence on your web site, then social is still a totally viable option for you.

Does that make sense?
 
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Hey Chip,

I have a slightly different opinion on this than Linda. Unless your business services the tech/seo industry, I really don't think there is much value at all continuing to post to G+. Take a look at your posts on there. Any +1's, shares, or comments? Are you getting any engagement at all from your patients or potential patients?

As a social channel, I don't think G+ has proven itself to be viable for the small business. UNLESS that business services the tech space. For a dentist? Forget it. The general public in your community (your potential patients) are not on G+. Every post is just going into a void where no one will see it.

I suggest focusing your social strategy on Facebook, where your actual customers are. For me, it's just a matter of investing your time into activities that have the potential to benefit your business. I don't see any benefit to a dentist to continue to post on G+.
 
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Hey Chip,

I have a slightly different opinion on this than Linda. Unless your business services the tech/seo industry, I really don't think there is much value at all continuing to post to G+. Take a look at your posts on there. Any +1's, shares, or comments? Are you getting any engagement at all from your patients or potential patients?

As a social channel, I don't think G+ has proven itself to be viable for the small business. UNLESS that business services the tech space. For a dentist? Forget it. The general public in your community (your potential patients) are not on G+. Every post is just going into a void where no one will see it.

I suggest focusing your social strategy on Facebook, where your actual customers are. For me, it's just a matter of investing your time into activities that have the potential to benefit your business. I don't see any benefit to a dentist to continue to post on G+.
I get what you're saying, but honestly, I've had better results with my G+ page with Facebook in terms of engagement and visibility on the web that resulted in verifiable patient acquisition. Facebook has been dismal.

Of course, that was before G+ Local Page visibility was deprecated in this latest update. I will certainly be monitoring the GMB dashboard to see what happens.

I'm also curious, however, if there's any opinion on whether or not Brand Pages are being treated differently from Local Pages? Would it be worth considering a Brand Page as an alternative, or are they facing the same deprecations as the Local Pages?
 

Dave

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I get what you're saying, but honestly, I've had better results with my G+ page with Facebook in terms of engagement and visibility on the web that resulted in verifiable patient acquisition. Facebook has been dismal.

Of course, that was before G+ Local Page visibility was deprecated in this latest update. I will certainly be monitoring the GMB dashboard to see what happens.

I'm also curious, however, if there's any opinion on whether or not Brand Pages are being treated differently from Local Pages? Would it be worth considering a Brand Page as an alternative, or are they facing the same deprecations as the Local Pages?
Chip: Your response is interesting. I agree with Darren above. Additionally I looked at two of our smb's and checked with someone else on a third. In our cases G+ interaction was tiny, similarly with the third example. In all cases FB was greater. By a factor of many...many!!!!!

I'd like to see what you did? Can you either publish your page and/or dm me.

Way back, I went through dozens of local G+ communities and interest groups for one of our regions. Checked activity and membership vs other forms of social interaction. Invariably G+ activity was small relative to some other social media venues.

So I'd be interested in what you have been doing.
 

Linda Buquet

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I'm also curious, however, if there's any opinion on whether or not Brand Pages are being treated differently from Local Pages? Would it be worth considering a Brand Page as an alternative, or are they facing the same deprecations as the Local Pages?
Brand pages don't rank in Google or maps.

FYI even though your G+ L page isn't as discoverable now and features are missing, all your data from GMB displays in search and maps so it's worth keeping up GMB for sure.

But if you mean simply as a social page - The focus of G+ is changing to Collections and Communities. Not so much just social posting like before. So in that respect a brand page would not have added benefits for you. PLUS you already have your following on your existing page. So I'd just keep posting there (if you have time to and enjoy it) as long as you continue to get engagement and feel like it's a benefit.

As a social channel, I don't think G+ has proven itself to be viable for the small business. UNLESS that business services the tech space. For a dentist? Forget it. The general public in your community (your potential patients) are not on G+. Every post is just going into a void where no one will see it.

I suggest focusing your social strategy on Facebook, where your actual customers are. For me, it's just a matter of investing your time into activities that have the potential to benefit your business. I don't see any benefit to a dentist to continue to post on G+.
I get what you're saying, but honestly, I've had better results with my G+ page with Facebook in terms of engagement and visibility on the web that resulted in verifiable patient acquisition. Facebook has been dismal.

I agree with what you said Darren and REALLY should have clarified that I knew where Chip was coming from and how he feels G+ has been stronger for him than FB.

Should have mentioned that. He worked really hard to built himself up to be sort of the G+ Dentist and I believe some of the personal (not financial) benefits he gets are interacting with other marketing pros and Dentists as well.

But was basically saying in his particular case if it's working and he promotes his page through his own channels to get traffic, then he could keep doing it if it's working for him.

But in almost every other SMB situation I agree with Darren.
And even in your case Chip I would start shifting focus.
 
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Hi Chip,

I looked up your G+ profile, and it looks like you're doing a pretty good job. You're definitely getting more engagement than the average SMB. I would question whether that engagement is actually from potential patients though. Looks like other dentists or people from other parts of the country.

Regarding the stats in the GMB dashboard, I think it's important to note that the numbers are an aggregate of your views and clicks from search results, and G+. I think the vast majority of data here is coming from search, not from G+. Especially since Google has made it impossible to get to the G+ page from search. See this support doc for info:
https://support.google.com/business/answer/6001255?hl=en
 

Linda Buquet

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Chip: Your response is interesting. I agree with Darren above. Additionally I looked at two of our smb's and checked with someone else on a third. In our cases G+ interaction was tiny, similarly with the third example. In all cases FB was greater. By a factor of many...many!!!!!

I'd like to see what you did? Can you either publish your page and/or dm me.
Just like anything else it's a matter of where you put your energy - how much you work it.

I know Chip well and he's a very open public person so I know he would not mind me sharing.

Here is his practice page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SmilesbyPayet/posts

Here is his personal page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CharlesPayet/posts
NOTE he has 7,800 followers. More than Darren and slmost as many as I have.
And I know how hard it was to build up to 8,400.

So again, with that kind of following I would not recommend just abandoning what he's built just yet.
Maybe start gradually shifting focus.
 

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