If it’s one thing you learn about doing business online is that it is constantly changing. So for those of you out there that believe the secret to success online is to just write great content or to just find superlative keywords and build sites around them or to just have great reviews, you’d be stuck. Take for instance the changes to Google Places reviews area. When Google first started this they needed people to place reviews. The difficulty is that you needed to have a Google Account and many people did not understand this aspect of the system. They would try to rate a business they liked and the rating did not work. It never told them “hey – we need to know who you are so could you please log on and create a Google Account so we know you are not a taxi driver in Istanbul moonlighting on the side?” They need to make sure they know who you are so the review is accurate.
In order to increase the number of reviews, Google allowed the review systems from Yelp, Local Yahoo, InsiderPages and CitySearch to flow to their system. The 5 star rating system also flowed to your star rating average. Then a cool plug-in for wordpress blogsites arrived on the scene (WP Customer Reviews) using the hReview microformat review 5 star rating system and your customers could place a review on your Blogsite, Even that would flow to Google to be averaged into your review score. Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, it was (note the past tense).
Most likely with the huge positive response from their Google+ system Mama Google doesn’t feel the need to pull reviews from other sites anymore. Everyone has lost their reviews from other sources. It now does not factor into your 5 star rating system and there is a tiny link at the bottom that says “Reviews from around the web:” directing you to other sites. Now only the Google reviews from verified Google accounts will factor into your Google Places reviews.
Just when you thought you had everything nice and tidy there are changes to Google Places reviews. My advice? Do everything and don’t listen to those who tell you this or that is “not so important anymore”……it all adds up. It is still a good idea to have reviews for your business. As more people use the Google+ system, they will be logged on more often and learn that they can leave a review if they are logged on. It is just another way that Google is forcing us to pay attention to their network. They kinda don’t like Facebook. Let’s see if their new social network can build up a real community fast. It is a “me to” player right now and needs to mature a bit.
For now, tell your customers to review you on Google Places or on your site if you have the WP Customer Reviews plug-in. Having them on your site is nice because who controls your site? You do! Check out my eNews page too.
Don’t forget to ask for reviews.