Google+ Local Review Q&A + Great Tips

Linda Buquet

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<img src="http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/spammyplace.jpg" alt="" title="spammyplace" width="120" height="140" align="left" hspace="10" />One of my fav Local Search bloggers, Phil Rosek, just did a great Q&A post Friday about common customer review problems, questions, solutions.

So I wanted to share that as well as what I think 'could' be a really hot review tip I posted over at Blumenthals blog and have not had a chance to mention here yet.




FAQ about Local-Business Reviews (on Google+Local and Third-Party Sites) | LocalVisibilitySystem.com

The trouble is, aside from some fantastic in-depth posts others have done on the topic, there’s not a ton of clear info for the business owner who just wants to know the main do’s and don’ts.

So, it’s about time I put some of my answers on paper.

Here are the questions I’ve been asked most frequently – and my answers – in no particular order:
So head over and read all the great info at Phil's including some good comments.
(Ignore the comments about me juggling my balls!) :p

POSSIBLE IMPORTANT TIP FOLLOWs...

Chris Alpen, who is also a member here commented: "Since more hoop jumping makes customers less inclined to post a review,we’ve developed methods using qr codes and email pieces linking directly to the page. Do Google and perhaps Yelp consider the source to determine the validity of the review?"

I DO very much think review source could play a factor!

So for instance if for an industry Google determines 70% of reviews come from natural searches by customers, but if you email every client a review link after service AND do a newsletter to all customers asking for reviews so only 20% of your reviews come from natural search and 80% are from a direct email link to the G+L page, don't you think that could trip a filter??? I do! (Numbers above are just a made up example, don't know any of this for fact - just a theory.)

SO HERE IS A POTENTIAL WORK-AROUND TO TEST, from a post I did at Mike's.

Asking for Reviews (Post Google Apocalypse) - See thread starting at comment #54

Denise said in part: "I recently came across a post that suggested Google takes into account how an intended reviewer gets to a business’s Google Plus page. According to the post, if the reviewer had clicked a link (e.g. the link to a business’s Google Plus page sent to him via email) and then proceeded to leave that business a review, his review would likely get filtered out as this path indicates he was prompted by the business owner to write the review. The post went on to say that ideally Google wants reviewers to arrive on the business’s Google Plus page naturally (e.g. run a search for the business name…) as reviewers who arrive on the page on their own are considered to be more credible sources."

HERE IS MY IDEA: (my reply at Mike's)

I’ve been thinking the same and here’s a suggestion I gave a couple people that may be worth testing. (I have not tested and am not saying it’s the magic solution.)

In follow up emails after service where you are “offering them the opportunity” to leave you a review (totally kosher and not incentivizing) OR on your site, wherever you have a review link, I wonder about this…

How about instead of linking directly to the G+ L page, link to your listing in maps. (The CID link.) Then explain how to get to the G+ Page and leave a review from there.

Because then all traffic to the G+ page that lands on the review button comes from a Maps search page (not from email or a link on your site.)

Example using Mike’s page:

Instead of linking here: https://plus.google.com/109717500159349273683/about

Link here? https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&cid=8612728639224254627 (Then explain how to get to the review button.)

:) Worth a try since not much else seems to be working these days.
I think a couple folks there are going to test.

WHAT DO YOU THINK about my tip or any other ideas from Phil's post?
 

Colan Nielsen

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Linda, I think your idea is really brilliant. That is the out of the box type of thinking that really makes the world of local search so fascinating! It's that type of approach to a problem in local search that really gets the creative sparks going. Thanks for the great idea and the inspiration.

Looking forward to seeing some feedback on it :)
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Colan,

Nope. I assume 1/2 my ideas just end up out there in the ether somewhere and probably 1/2 some folks try but I don't always get feedback to know what works. I strongly suspect that was a good idea and see no reason why it wouldn't work, just have not gotten any direct feedback.
 

Linda Buquet

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Cool, let us know! :)

Want to mention that IF a listing is already blocked and new reviews are not getting through at all, then I don't think this will help. But as a precautionary measure for clients that do newsletters or thank you follow up emails requesting a review, may possibly help prevent tripping a filter?
 

Chase Billow

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Sep 19, 2012
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Hi Linda,

I've thought about this too, but won't the referral data be seen as a click from their email service? That's obviously not a natural search, so is that really any different?

That said, that's the method (the one you suggested) that I've used for a while now and we've had a few reviews left since using that method. I'm not 100% sure they used the link in the email so I don't know if that's how they ended up getting there but so far, no problems.
 
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We've been experimenting with this concept for the past 45 days or so for orthodontic clients. We found that it does seem to increase the likelihood of a review making it through . . . but only slightly. Even as such, the reviews that do make it live for our clients still seem to disappear a week or two after being posted.

So the net result is that we've found the methodology definitely helps the reviews "get through." However, there is some facet of the filter that sweeps the reviews away thereafter.
 

Linda Buquet

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I've thought about this too, but won't the referral data be seen as a click from their email service? That's obviously not a natural search, so is that really any different?
Well the direct click TO the G+L review page comes from Google Maps, not from an email link.

We know Google tracks links and they can likely see complete click path, but my guess is the spam filter is not looking at complete click path, but just where the direct click came from that lead to the review page - which in this case would be Google maps - not email.

I mean who knows for sure and I'm not saying at all this is the be-all, end-all solution, just one thing to consider and maybe try.

The downside however would be putting that extra click and possible confusion about what to do next between the customer and the final review screen - by sending them to maps 1st. So I would think you'd want to do a screen shot with a big red arrow and make sure it's really clear how to get from the map page to the review page. (It's a no-brainer to us, but some consumers just don't know, so always need to dumb down and explain things just in case.)
 

Chase Billow

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Of course they can see the entire click path, when GA and about any other industry Analytics script can track it. I can see when people get to my sites via an email link and so can Google. If they are so hyper-sensitive about quality control on Local, I just see no reason why they wouldn't use that as an indicator.

Maybe this is why Carleton Wilkins is having trouble with reviews "sticking". Not saying it's a bad idea and it is something I've used (though I worry as I do it lol), but I'm sure Google can detect it no problem.
 

Linda Buquet

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I totally agree "I'm sure Google can detect it no problem." Google sees all, like I said.

What I was saying is I'm not sure if the "specific review spam part of the algo" is programmed to analyze complete click path or if it's possibly just looking at the click that hit the G+ page itself. But like I said, no one knows for sure. Just a thought.
 

Linda Buquet

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Plus keep in mind there are all kinds of other view spam filters you can trip. Review velocity likely being one of the biggest red flags.

So for example if you normally get 2 reviews a month, then send out a big newsletter to all your customers and get 20 reviews in one day - EVEN IF you use my idea and even if my idea works, the volume is still likely going to trip a filter.
 

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