One of the best tools that Google has offered local businesses in the last couple of years was rolled out yesterday. Google now offers a free tool to monitor customer reviews that are published about your business on any major site around the web.
1. Log into your Google Places for Business page. If you are unsure how to do this, simply Google your company name and city. On the right, just below the box that has the map, your company name, business hours, etc – click on “Are you the business owner?” and follow the prompts.
2. Once you have logged in, click on “Reviews” from the menu on the left.
3. Google reviews are listed on top. Scroll down to see reviews that are listed around the web.
4. Click on the “Review analytics” tab at the top to view your review rating distribution and the sites around the web on which your reviews are displayed.
Warning: there are some data problems. As a well known local search pro once said to me “its free…what do you expect.”
1. The data is not comprehensive or correct (or even very close)….yet. We have talked with businesses who have reported many of their reviews (including Google reviews) not showing up in the “Review inbox”. We also know that the content that is listed is often incorrect. This has long been an issue for Google but I would imagine that the public release of this tool will spur them on to greater data quality. There appears to be no way of reporting missing reviews or incorrect reviews beyond the normal channels which have not proven very useful in the past. The good news is that, if you are a Customer Lobby member, we know that your reviews will make it into the index but it might take some time.
2. Not all of the sites are properly displaying “stars” (i.e. ratings). For example, TripAdvisor and several other major reviews companies reviews are not displaying the ratings. Great news: Customer Lobby reviews are working just fine and displaying the rating, reviewer, date and other rich snippet data!
3. Not all review sites reviews are listed. Notably, Yelp reviews are not listed. I assume that this has something to do with Yelp’s helping the FTC a few years ago in looking at Google’s potentially anti-competitive market position.
4. Can’t respond to reviews from around the web….yet.
5. Can’t get an email notification of a new review found by Google…yet.
I think this is fantastic functionality and am excited that Google is stepping into this market. There is a ton of functionality that Google can offer here if they choose to invest in this. This dashboard has, from Google’s perspective, the best chance of bringing local business owners back to log into their Google dashboard and engage with Google, which (they hope) leads toward greater likelihood to buy ads.
I suggest that company’s set up Google Alerts on their business name and competitors names as a way to stay up to date with content that is not picked up in this dashboard.