The reviews on Google Places were finicky for most of May and June. Customers could not submit Google reviews which worried a lot of restaurants. Then the search giant revealed its big plans to take Yelp head on in the mobile location search market with Google+ Location. In the announcement for Google+ Location, Google explained its recent purchase of Zagat, saying, “Each place you see in Google+ Local will now be scored using Zagat’s 30 point scale, which tells you all about the various aspects of a place so you can make the best decisions.”
Now that the dust has settled, businesses want to know how to make use of this change.
The first thing to accept is that as long as Google is battling Facebook for social traffic and Yelp for reviews, you’re going to have to spread your attentions across all of them. And even though many people don’t know anything about Google+ or Google Reviews, you can’t really afford to ignore it. So just as your small business-marketing plan includes trying to encourage people who had a positive experience to leave a review on Yelp, you should also encourage them to leave a review on Google+ Local.
There’s obviously a tradeoff. People probably won’t review you on two sites. And right now, Yelp does get more attention. But having no reviews on Local could be a death sentence if someone searches for your type of restaurant or store using Google on his or her mobile device. This also means your store’s Google+ page has to be good, because that’s where those searchers will end up.
The secret is to push people towards reviewing on Google+ Local. People already search stuff using the web browser or native Google app on their mobile devices. As Google’s localized search results for stores and restaurants get better (through its improvements to Google+ Local and search integration) more walk-in traffic will be based on mobile searches. And they’ll use Google, because they trust it and it’s easier than installing an app.
The last thing you have to do is be better than the competition. Whatever you sell, your store has to merit good ratings or people won’t give them. So run a good business. And when people notice it, ask them to check you out on Google+ Local and leave a review for you. It’s the only way this change can help your business.