Google+ Local Now Suggests Places to Review Based on Your Search History

Google may no longer allow SMBs to run client contests  for money or charity to gather reviews. That doesn’t slow Google down from encouraging G+ Local users from leaving more reviews by digging into a users search history.

The Google Plus Daily noted several days ago that Google+ Local Now Suggests Places to Review. Google is using your search history and checkins to inform the nag.

Clearly Google is exploring one more way to “close the search to sale loop” and determine when a searcher actually makes a purchase. When you combine this with Offers, Check-Ins, Driving Dirctions, Wallet, Zavers (Coupons), various iPhone apps and the use of Android, Google is clearly going to triangulate their way to conversion information if they can’t get it directly and they are obviously looking across all of their software to find it.Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 5.21.18 PM

 

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Google+ Local Now Suggests Places to Review Based on Your Search History by

22 thoughts on “Google+ Local Now Suggests Places to Review Based on Your Search History”

  1. I wonder whether Google is also looking to benefit from increased user interaction. This makes Google+ appear more viable as a social network, and it gives them more data on what specific G+ users are doing (I’m imagining the notifications that show up in the G+ timeline of users in my circles – some of those could easily be notifications of reviews)

  2. Clearly the idea the behind PLus was to grease the wheels of intereaction and make it easier for users to engage with multiples of their products. Certainly that is a goal. And that goal is important as they attempt to increase time on site and personalize their users experiences. That is fundamental to everything they do… it allows them more opportunities per user to show adds.

    But they also very much want “search to sale” information. They have purchased two coupon companies in the past 18 months and have been pushing their products out to the point of sale.

    They want to touch customers everywhere.

  3. I love +Local, but I’m not yet using it 100% because two things are missing. (1) I can’t review some places because they are not listed. A Chili’s restaurant has been in my neighborhood for over a year and it is still not listed. I wish there was a way to add it. (2) Many “non-businesses” (such as airports, parks, etc.) are grayed out. You can’t review them, nor read the existing reviews that existed before +Local.

  4. @Troy

    It is super easy to add a business. Just go into Maps and right click at the location and select “report a problem and you will be presented with the option to add a new place or business.

    Most POIs do allow for reviews to be left. If they don’t then add a new place and they will.

  5. +Mike Blumenthal Thank–I didn’t know the link was there to add a business. Using Chrome on Mountain Lion (Max OS 10.8), that is a teeny little link. I’m happy to learn about it. I’m anxious to try it out and see what kind of response I get.

    In regard to grayed out places, I hate to create a new place for fear of creating more clutter with duplicate entries. Many parks in my town have hundres of reviews, but a link that says “89 reviews” for example goes nowhere. It’s quite a tease. For me personally, I’ve reviewed many parks with tons of photos. I don’t really want to create a new entry… I just want Google to “unlock” the ones that are already there. I’m not sure what the delay is, though, there may be a good reason. It’s been quite a while now.

    Thanks again for the feedback on that “report a problem” link… can’t wait to play with that.

  6. @Josh
    Google would contend that since it is a contest about reviews for many businesses not an incentive for a single business the practice is apparently ok. By that logic I assume that a Chamber of Commerce could run a “review your local business” contest and give away a prize and that would be OK.

  7. I guess that makes some sense. To me tho it is still artificially increasing reviews, which in the end doesn’t serve Google well. Needs to be organic.

  8. When I posted about this update at my forum on Wed I showed a screenshot of what Google suggests I review based on my history: Honeywell, the Korean Academy and Doctors in other parts of the country. I commented:

    “None of the places Google is asking me to review are in my local area and I’ve never been to any of them. Those are just places I’ve surfed to helping folks in the G forum or doing various research. So kind of odd they are just pulling whatever is in your history and asking you to review it. But I guess with a local consumer, it would be more likely that the places they have surfed to are local businesses. Still just because they’ve surfed there, does not mean they’ve been there.”

    Basically they are asking you to review businesses you’ve visited “virtually” online. Does not mean you’ve been there. So just interesting, they are pulling from search history. Not a biggie, just interesting.

    But it does show you how much Google knows about you and how they are trying to interweave all that knowledge about you and tie it into all their various products.

  9. @Linda
    Not relevant for you or for me but it likely to be relevant for many searchers I presume. If it isn’t they will nuke it.

    They have tons of information about you and are not resistant to use it if it improves their lot in life one way or the other.

  10. Mike: To me the overriding news is that the newest version of chrome is going to secure search: http://searchengineland.com/the-transition-from-search-term-data-to-not-provided-chrome-is-the-next-data-source-to-make-the-switch-145644

    Keyword data and marketing knowledge is more and more only available in one repository….Google. search with google + = secure search and no keyword data.

    Only google has it. No marketers, no knowledge by anyone else. Its an enormous monolithic monopoly on search, on search tendencies and on every aspect of retail business.

    I don’t need their friggin suggestions on who to review. I need for the FTC to break up their monopoly on all aspects of search…on its impact on smb’s and shopping patterns.

    I need them to correct mistakes they’ve made immediately and become transparent, on whose smb’s they’ve screwed up and whose they haven’t.

    Are they playing favorites with the economy. Who knows. Absolutely nobody. Its a scary monopoly.

    (voluble rant OVER astute or not –> not sure.

    my $0.02 :D

  11. @Linda:

    I could give a rat’s ass about google’s suggestions to me. I wrote a series of reviews on different smb’s recently. It’s because I received terrific service and I thought the smb’s deserved credit.

    The reviews did not all go into G+. In one case it went into a local foodie site. It revived a thread on a particular establishment. Afterwards someone commented and is planning to go there.

    Maybe my very current review had something to do with that. I wrote the review b/c I thought the smb merited a positive comment. Maybe it helped.

    I just don’t want to be a google or a yelp toadie. I’d rather write reviews b/c a business deserves it….good or bad.

  12. Hi Mike,

    I noticed a couple of weeks ago that Google Now was tracking places that I’ve been visiting when they provided me with directions to the auto repair place I left my car at, a couple of days before and recognized that I was returning to it..

    I could see Google start suggesting that I leave reviews of places that they know I’ve actually visited at some point in the future, rather than places I’ve searched for (or only searched for) in the past. I could even see such a request happening while I’m at a place that Google Now recognizes, such as a restaurant.

  13. @Bill

    As they build out their inventory of building outlines they will start accruing knowledge of when you cross the boundary of that building. That doesn’t need to be tied to just a restaurant but could be offers or coupons when you enter the door at Target. Clearly they are building out a range of technologies that will allow them to “touch” you throughout the whole purchase cycle.

    You search, they give you a coupon when you enter the building, they give you a “custom price” when you scan an item, they capture the purchase with wallet, and then nag you to write a review when you are done… oh and then send along an offer for followup…. the ultimate in retargeting.

  14. When I read the title of this post I thought of one thing: “So search history is how to get a review to show in Google Places.”

    I wonder if this is so? If a reviewer has visited a SMBs website is their review more likely to display? Anyone have thoughts on this?

  15. @Jeffery

    I think this sort of tracking and suggesting and review filtering are being done on different sides of the house.

    The way to get reviews published at Google is clear:
    Don’ts
    - Don’t use Review stations or the same IP addresses
    - No URLs in reviews
    - No Duplicate reviews
    - Don’t ask newbies
    - Don’t ask for too many in too short of a time

    Do’s
    - have the user use Android or the iPhone/iPad app
    - ask users with a review history at Google.

  16. @Bill, @Mike. Oh boy, isn’t that thrilling and chilling: Google as big brother tracking where you walk and move.

    I can see it now. You enter a whorehouse. Now it could be because:

    A) your sister works there and you are going there to free her from a lifetime of degradation

    B). the other more traditional reason :D

    whether you went there to protect your sister and defend the family’s honor becomes irrelevant as google keeps sending you ads for hookers and whorehouses. Maybe if you are “lucky” they’ll provide those keen insights to some partners of theirs who wants to have access to the only data base in the country that will have data on your every move.

    Scary.

  17. @Mike

    so what you’re saying is that Google’s yelpification is complete?!? Higher quality reviews are better for everybody, but still…

  18. @Josh

    In many ways Google is the opposite and wants to be the opposite of Yelp… on reviews they have become a PITA but that will likely change… Google will keep changing till they get it right from their pov.

  19. Good points, Mike

    Between the work that Google is doing now (and has been for a few years) on local/mobile/social, and the early patents Google acquired from Gravitate (through deCarta) last summer, and the Indoor Positioning System (IPS) technology they are working on (and patents covering such ideas acquired from Terahop), you can see the possibility of such scenerios playing out.

    I did use restaurants as an example of one type of place Google might suggest that you leave a review for, and Google used the same example in a patent that targets patrons of such places. Apple does the same with another of their patents that tracks places people visit, to possibly come up with a ranking score for local places.

    Offers and alerts, instant review suggestions, local ranking signals, smarter data mapping templates, parameterless searches (shake your phone while driving and Google might warn you of traffic conditions ahead) and more, will be part of the landscape coming from Google in the world of smartphones, navigation devices, and Google Glass.

    @earlpearl,

    Sounds like you’ve been watching old black and white James Stewart or Gary Stewart movies, about the guy who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, (Meet John Doe, for instance)

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