Google Places Dashboard: QR Code MIA, Good riddance!

The printable QR Code that directed folks to your Places Page that Google offered up in the Places Dashboard went missing last week. A number of posters have turned up in the forums asking where it went, wondering how to print out the QR Code for their Places Page and lamenting its absence.  Google has not yet made a public announcement whether the feature has been pulled or is just missing as a result of another bug.

My response to the posters: GOOD RIDDANCE!

While the availability of the QR Code in the Places Page raised the visibility of the idea of the QR Code for millions of SMBs that otherwise would not have thought about them, Google’s self serving implementation of QR Codes was never one that was in the best interest of the business owner.

It is incredibly easy to create and print your own QR Code that can be used in a range of environments that better meet the needs of business. For example this site CreateQRcode.appspot.com uses Google’s QR code API to allow a user to embed any URL in the code and print at a range of different sizes. It’s as simple as deciding which web page should be referenced in which campaign and pasting the URL in. The QR Code graphic is then generated in a choice of different sizes.

QR Codes could be added to newspaper ads, yellow page ads, billboards, business cards, TV commercials and signage. They are a useful way to encourage online engagement from the offline world. One suggestion that I have been making of late to clients with heavy foot traffic is to use the code to drive mobile shoppers directly to the Google mobile rating/review entry screen so as to facilitate the process….. here is the “recipe:

Take Google’s incredibly onerous URL for your Places Page:

http://maps.google.com/maps/placeclient=safari&oe=UTF8&ie=UTF8&
q=blumenthals.com+olean+ny&fb=1&gl=us&hq=blumenthals.com+olean+ny
&hnear=blumenthals.com+olean+ny&cid=8612728639224254627&z=14

Shorten it to its minimum content:

http://google.com/maps/place?cid=8612728639224254627

Add the following snippet to the end of the URL to send the user directly to the review window:

&dtab=2&action=openratings&ct=write-review

This creates the following URL:
http://google.com/maps/place?cid=8612728639224254627&dtab=2&action=openratings&ct=write-review

Enter the above URL in the QR Code Generator, print and post near your exit with a request for a review. When scanned with any of the QR Code readers available on Android or the iPhone it will direct the users to Google’s Hotpot style, simplified mobile review environment:

While the above review solution still takes a user to your Google Places Page, it does so in a way that is useful to you and makes the customer’s life easier. Not only does it greatly facilitate the process of leaving a review in an engaging way, it does so while the experience is fresh for the consumer.

I would love to hear how your clients have used QR Codes and how well they worked.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places Dashboard: QR Code MIA, Good riddance! by

16 thoughts on “Google Places Dashboard: QR Code MIA, Good riddance!”

  1. thank you matt, this is genius! it’s hard enough to find my own google local page let alone try to get people there to comment on it.

  2. Posts like this are exactly why I love this blog. Nice job Mike!

    Rocky- I think Lightspeed will do it. You can add a .jpg or image file to your print out. Of course then you have Lightspeed, which has it’s own issues… :)

  3. @Steven

    Hopefully you scanned the code to actually leave the 5 star rating where it matters :)

    @Rocky

    Interestingly, several of the folks that I spoke with about the receipt, which is a great idea, were very resistant to putting this on. Not sure why.

    @LC

    Uh… this is Mike’s blog, not Matt’s…

    @Tyler

    Thanks.

  4. Thanks Mike, great insight as always.

    Does anyone know of a website or service that allows you to create nice wall signs for Facebook, Twitter, QR codes etc, then pick different designs to print? I suck at Design and would love to order a few of these for my clients who have nice waiting rooms.

    Cheers, Kiwi.

  5. A possibly better suggestion is to take the URL

    http://google.com/maps/place?cid=8612728639224254627&dtab=2&action=openratings&ct=write-review

    And shorten it via goo.gl

    http://goo.gl/E5j2m

    Just add .qr on the end to get a QR code

    http://goo.gl/E5j2m.qr

    … result a much more compact QR code (compare it with the one shown in this post)

    A nice side affect of this, is can get analytics to see how many people scan it at goo.gl

    (Another alternative is to get a QR code that points to a URL on your own domain – that just redirects to the Places page. You can probably get anaytics via your own site that way, but also, you could always change the destination of the code. Say Google where to change the link format (not unheard off!) or there comes a better destiniation for hte link, can just edit the redirect)

  6. Barry
    Thanks for the tip!

    The reason that I stopped using the QR coding in the Google shortener was that the physical size in pixels was so small limiting the use to physically smaller output. Is that a misunderstanding on my part? The QR code that you generated is only 150 pixels by 150 pixels limiting the use to a print out of only 1″ square.

    Fine for business cards, Yellow Page ads and such but not a 8 x 12 printout.

    Normally I would suggest, as you did, directing the QR Code to the owner’s site and thus you could track it as a campaign in analytics.

  7. Yikes! I like the QR Code Mike :-) but you have a good point. Perhaps it’s better served in the advertising/publishing realm. For those not too familiar with QR Codes – I built a small site that explains all about them and has links to several good QR Code creating tools. The site is ad free and has no affiliate links – it’s just for informational purposes.

    http://www.cellphone-barcode.com/

  8. So i followed these steps to a T, and it works when a Droid phone scans the QR code… but when an Apple phone scans it, it directs customers to the map app showing where our location is. How do i prevent this?

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