Google+ Local Reviews

Google + Local help files are now online.

One of the big changes that has occurred with the rollout of Google+ Local has been the change to the Google review environment. Google is moving to the 30 point system developed by Zagat. If there is granular detail Google will show it.

If there is not enough data on different aspects of the business Google will display a summary only.

The scale for rating is from 0-3 but the results are multiplied by 10 and averaged to get final score. In theory it allows for greater distinctions. You can see the rating system in action at this Google+Local business page for The Meatball Shop.

Google will be integrating OpenTable reservations into the Google+ Local Page for restaurants.

The review process will no longer allow for anonymous reviews. Here is what the review button notes:

With Google+ Local, all your reviews and associated photos are visible to everyone on the web, under the name Barbara Oliver (your Plus name). Your reviews and associated photos are displayed to:

  • Anyone who views your profile on Google+
  • Anyone who searches for places, if they’ve added you to their Google+ circles
  • Anyone who views places you’ve reviewed

Google notes that you will need to provide explicit permission and actively migrate your old reviews if you want your previous anonymous reviews to show. Google will ask you if you want to do this the first time you write a review in Google+Local. Thus old reviews apparently will NOT migrate to the new Google+Local Business page and the business owner must either ask previous reviewers to migrate or start afresh. (I need to confirm this.) Reviews will migrate, the review just won’t be attributed to the user’s Google+ name unless the user explicitly OKs it.

If you previously wrote reviews or uploaded photos in Google Places, all of your old Google Places reviews and photos are currently public but attributed to, “A Google user.” If you want to attribute these reviews and photos to your Google+ name, all you need to do is migrate your old Google Places reviews and photos to Google+ Local. At that time, you can choose which content to make public and attributed to your Google+ name, and which content to make private. Private reviews and photos will not appear publicly across Google, but you can view or delete your content by clicking on My Places in Google Maps, and selecting Rated from the More menu.

Google+Local will be creating a class of reviewer known as a Top Reviewer and your reviews will be highlight more broadly across the network.

Oddly, the search function has returned to a two field search where you need to enter the what in the first field and a where in the second field. How retro is that?

The exploring feature has integrated a Hotpot like recommendation function. Google+Local will recommend places they “think you’ll like based on your reviews, check-ins, and suggestions from top reviewers”.

The review policy seems to remain unchanged and the review spam algo will still be in affect.

Here are screen shots from the review & migration process:

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Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google+ Local Reviews by

27 thoughts on “Google+ Local Reviews”

  1. I found the review re-publishing process to be painless but odd. Why would Google make my re-publish old reviews while I’m trying to publish a NEW review for a different business? Why couldn’t this process have been implemented in the +1 or a new “Endorsements/Review” tab?

  2. Mike, thanks for the timely update. How about the local Google+ pages that have already been created? Will they merge with the new Google+ local pages?

  3. I think I might be up all night messing around with some of these new features. I love what David Mihm posted about in regards to being able to write reviews as a company now too. My new goal is to become a top reviewer :p

  4. “I, like Joy, (and many others) will be up all night. My eyes are starting to really hurt…”

    Ditto and my head is going to explode!

  5. UGH: I didn’t see our business+ pages till the end of the evening. I started scanning through them. All anonymous reviews.

    I have a very strong sickening feeling we are going to have to get into the business of contacting those that have reviewed our smb’s and see if we can help/enourage/urge them to join google+ or if they are already on google+ to convert their reviews from anonymous to ones with names and identities.

    AND THAT SUCKS Reviews with names and identities are enormously more effective, believable and powerful than endless “anonymous” google user.

    Under this process….Google is going to get SMB’s to do their dirty work for them–in one small part to get people involved or more involved in google+ David Letterman has a word for this….

    WEASELS

    I had one other item to bitch about: On the bottom of one of our pages was that friendly reminder that these pages are Google’s pages…not ours!!!! Related Places On one of the G+ (formerly places page) under the Related Places section….there was a competitor with a Perfect ZAGAT rating of a big 30

    I hadn’t looked at those reviews in a while. They are so damn hand crafted….each one answers questions customers would have about the business and its services. They fit together like a well oiled machine….and now on OUR SO CALLED google+ page it sticks out like a sore thumb

    Its not ours…its googles. I like FB better. I like Yelp better!! I like BING BETTER!!! Cripes I like my ex mother in law better!!!!

    Google is the ultimate monopolistic uncontrolled, unaccountable to anyone monster. Now its setting up smb’s to do some of its dirty work and it gives and takes from your new Google+ page.

    *&%)*)*(%) f**k

    Really unhappy with this development.

  6. A little late- but I thought I’d chime in. I was on the phone with a dentist client of mine who had a patient who wanted to post a review to their Places, oops- I mean Google+ Local page.

    The patient- who was very willing to help- found the Dr’s new G+L page and posted a review- which appeared immediately!

    They had to create their G+ profile, but no real difficulty in setting it up.

    I’m not happy with the new rating system… a 3 looks like 3/5, not 3/3.

    But my main point was that the review was posted immediately.

  7. @Chris

    The review system is the gem of the upgrade. It seems to work, it provides granular information about a business and is transparent. It is very accountable and that might change the tenor and quality of reviews.

    The rating system is what it is, and I assume that people will get used to. It was not obvious to me when I first saw it either and I thought that the business had a failing grade. It does however offer a lot more information than a traditional 5 star system for the reader.

  8. Mike, what do you think about the privacy of the reviewer? Do you think the average person is cool with having their full name displayed?

    Being in the dental field, I wonder if that will have any HIPAA issues or scare off potential reviewers.

  9. @Chris

    There is no privacy… its real names. That raises a number of issues for readers, the reviewer and the businesses.

    For the reviewers it means that there is no expectation of privacy. That means that they will be somewhat more measured and nuanced in their communication. And it means that some of them may have some qualms about even doing it. Google is pushing the envelope on their comfort level but it will lead to greater quality reviews and less spam.

    For readers it means that they have a chance to be influenced by people they know and or respect. I think it will be interesting to see if the Top Reviewer community that develops ends up with a snarky edge like on Yelp.

    For businesses its both good and bad news depending on the type of business you are in. It will cut down on competitor spam and could give Google the tools to limit the amount positive review spam that is generated. The business will know who the customer is so that the can verify the transaction, see who they dealt with and if necessary get in touch with the reviewer. For many businesses those are all net pluses.

    For businesses that deal with sensitive information it is another story. It essentially cuts criminal attorneys, bankruptcy attorneys, many health care professionals out of asking for reviews on Google. There is too much at risk For them, they will need to ask their clients to go elsewhere to leave a review.

    As to whether it is a HIPAA problem, I would think that if the user chooses to openly share their information that is probably ok. I think there are likely problems with the health care provider asking them to do so and possibly with them responding.

  10. I for one am looking forward to Google eventually insisting reviews come from real people, since all of mine are real and the guy down the street paid for his…

  11. I’m not a fan of this. I fully understand the reasoning behind the transparency, but there are huge negatives that will likely cause a backlash. For those that want to give biased opinions, good or bad, the creation of another account gets the job done, so this won’t prevent that. How hard is it to create another Google account for those who are motivated to either cover themselves with sunshine or trash the competition? These are motivated people and they will do what’s necessary to achieve their goals. In my opinion, this won’t touch this problem at all.

    What it will affect are those people who like myself do not have a particular ax to grind but want to leave an anonymous review, and there are many reasons why that could happen.

    I might leave a positive but not perfect review about a business that I wish to continue using. I don’t want my review to become a part of that continued relationship, so given that I get nothing from Google, what am I going to give a review for? Thanks but no thanks because I’m not going to put myself out there for Google. There’s no skin off my back for not leaving any review at all.

    Or in the opposite case, perhaps I’ve had a very negative experience and wish to speak of it without potentially getting sued. Who needs to deal with an angry merchant, have their feet cut out from underneath in a current business relationship, or get sued and potentially lose in court because you didn’t hold onto proof of what you say? And who ever has proof of verbal conversations?

    Then there’s the idea of doctors and lawyers. Nobody in their right mind is going to post any review there because it necessitates the public affirmation of an existing relationship. Under no circumstances would I ever review anyone for whom my confidentiality is a part of that relationship, and particularly those who have virtually unlimited resources to use the law to make my life miserable out of revenge.

    The very nature of the Internet espouses anonymity. Spam and bias comes as a part of that, and most users can spot a garbage review. What Google expects here is that people will lend their opinions to Google with no upside while Google exposes them to the world and all the potential downside. T’aint gonna happen. Bye bye Google reviews. Amateurish business move to say the least.

  12. Thanks so much for this post. I can’t stand the new rating system – I also feel like it looks like a 3/5 instead of 3/3. (And in fact, it’s really equivalent to 4/4, because a 0 rating is possible.) I don’t really understand how the new rating system gives more information. They could just as well have kept the 5 stars, but averaged all the ratings.

    Anyway, not the reason I’m posting. I’ve had 2 clients review me on Google plus since the change. Both the clients told me they had posted, but I couldn’t see their reviews. I called one of them up on the phone, and it took about 5-10 minutes for her to play with it to make the review show visibly. Even though she had already marked that the review should be public, she had to go in and edit it and choose public again, and then it finally 5 minutes later showed up. So I sent those instructions to my second client, who said she went in and did the same thing (yesterday), but I still can’t see the review. Help! Any ideas?

    Also, if I’m logged out of google, the photos on my google plus listing that are visible (only 4 photos) are different from the same 4 header photos when I’m logged in. The 4 photos visible when logged out are indeed my photos, but where is google drawing from? I’ve tried to update the photos in my google business listing, and even though when i’m in “edit listing,” it shows the 10 photos I recently chose, the 4 photos that show up on my actual listing are all different.

    Your article talked about “migrating” photos and reviews over from Google places (maps) to Google Plus. I’ve followed your instructions – gone to google maps – clicked on my places – clicked on more and selected rated. But all it does is show my reviews, and there’s no option to migrate them over. Any ideas?

    Also, since we’re here, here’s something I’ve never been able to figure out – how do I DELETE a review I previously wrote? I’ve tried at various times over the past 1-2 years and it’s STUCK!

    Thank you so much,
    Irene

  13. Hi Mike,

    This is really a great post. I have a question though.
    You mentioned that With Google+ Local, all my reviews and associated photos will be displayed to the following:

    – Anyone who views your profile on Google+
    – Anyone who searches for places, if they’ve added you to their Google+ circles
    – Anyone who views places you’ve reviewed

    I wrote my 1st review but it is not being shown on their Google+ Local Page. I can only see my review whenever I am logged in but once I log out, I can’t view my review on their page.

    Would you know why is this happening?
    I’d appreciate your thoughts.

  14. @Micah
    Your review has fallen prey to Google’s spam filter. They seemed to have dialed it up and it is catching significantly more spam but also catching some good reviews as well. To get a few ideas of what might cause a review to be tagged see yesterday’s post: Google+ Local And Review Issues.

  15. Hi Mike,

    About your Google spam filter comment – I’m a photographer, and I have two clients who reviewed me recently who can’t get their reviews to show up publicly. It shows up to anyone in their circles, and the review itself is marked as “public,” yet neither of them show up publicly. I reviewed the “google+ local and review issues” link you posted above, but don’t really see any of those points being a reason for my clients’ reviews to show up as spam. Any further ideas?

    Thanks!
    Irene

  16. @MikeB,
    Agree with your points. The only problem I have is that many businesses out there don’t like to be criticized for bad service–and full names gives them an avenue (like google, intenet and other sources) to trace back to that customer. What if you gave them a credit card or other personal information? People on all sides can be vindictive if they felt they were unjustly evaluated. I’ve heard firsthand from several reviewers that were harassed via telephone after they managed get the contact information from several sources. The publishing of names will definitely help businesses get better reviews than they deserve just so the reviewer doesn’t feel threatened in case they said something the owner didn’t digest. Just my 2 cents.

  17. @Glenn

    Google can certainly provide verified anonymity if they wanted to. As you point out it would mean better quality reviews and protection for the reviewer that wants to stay anonymous. It is exactly what they are doing with their new car lead gen and TalkBin products.

    Historically the anonymity that Google provided in the review process lead to a great deal of abuse by competitors. Now they have gone 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

  18. Anonymous reviews are essential… Keep them!

    What if you want to review about a strip club? Or an embarrassing medical situation? Or your a-hole cousin runs a terrible pizza shop? Hello??

    It’s like having who you voted for plastered all over your Facebook page.

    Abuse can still be easily identified, tracked, and dealt with. I myself have been the victim of malicious competitor reviews, and they stick out like a sore thumb: No very negative reviews EVER over seven years, and then 6 within two hours, all originating from the same IP address? C’mon.

    This is just Google trying to overstep, and get people to use G+. The result is that I will not be reviewing anymore, for fear of retaliation. Adios, Google+Whatever.

  19. The issue for most businesses is that changing the way in which real customers are to review this many times disrupts business.

    It would be nice if Google would, as a practice, list and update instructions on how to add reviews for the layperson to businesses both directly online and via google webmaster tools

  20. This morning I noticed that Google stopped displaying review scores. Is this a bug or their future to no longer displaying negative or positive reviews, just the content?

  21. Strange, that mobile devices are OK. Can’t believe that billion $$$ company could allow these kind of errors. They can afford it, I, for example would be fired in mini second! , LOL

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