We all know that there is a storm brewing with google Places. It was bad enough that you had to have reputation management for third party review sites, now we have to deal with it from within the SERPs.But we all know how hard it is to get google to change things – with third party review sites, a threat of legal action towards a libelous review will get a response. Good luck with that if you try suing Google for a shitty review (emphasis mine):
We do not arbitrate disputes among business owners, competitors, customers, ex-employees, or other entities. We only remove reviews when we determine that they violate our guidelines, which is extremely rare. More often than not, we leave the review up.
This of course means that businesses need to be armed with the right approach to dealing with them, and the right place to start is to understand what google offers in the way of resources to dealing with bad reviews. Google Places isnt goinng anywhere, and my suspicion is that it will be much much bigger than organic search over time.
Flag as Inappropriate
For reviews by Google users, you can use the Flag as inappropriate link next to a review to report it as inappropriate. Google will then check if the review violates these guidelines – I wouldnt hold your breath however, I am guessing there will be some triggers such as volume of “flags“.
Right to Respond
Google Places allows you the right to respond. (link to QnA)
I would urge you to keep in mind their advice, which I think is solid for a change:
- Be nice. This isn’t just a guideline — it’s also a good idea. You aren’t going to win an argument with a frustrated customer. And you don’t want to burn any bridges. Even customers who initially had a bad experience might come back.
- Don’t get personal. Remember that you’re replying to feedback about an experience, not about you as a person. Reply in a way that addresses the overall experience, and remember that there’s a real person on the other end. If you believe the review violates the posting guidelines, please use the Flag as inappropriate link.
- Feedback is helpful. Both positive and negative feedback can be good for your business and help it grow (even though it’s sometimes hard to hear). Think of all feedback as an opportunity to improve.
In order to be able to repond, you will need to have claimed the listing. If you havent claimed it, you will not see the Respond publicly as the owner link.
Link to the Google Help Page on Business Response.
Third Party Reviews
Google Place pages also display reviews from sites across the web. We generally do not remove these reviews unless they have been removed from the original site or when required by law.
So I guess the only way to get these reviews taken off is by approaching the Third Party sites. The big advantage here is that Google shows where the review is coming from. So once again its in the third party domain, which means your threats, bribing, asking and pleading thrid party sites to take off negative reviews, may, just may change those.
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile