Over the past year with the development of user generated content and the rise of reviews in particular with exactly how to approach this new form of customer input. The more internet aware have embraced the review process and have been using the process for reputation management, quality improvement through the feedback process and customer relation management. Certainly for those businesses that have quality as a focus and execute well, having customers so publicly proclaim their virtues can be a very positive thing.
But most small business lack the time to manage and review all of the possible review sites that might affect them. The fragmentation of the IYP market and the growing number of review sites has made the chore ever expanding. Typically the recommendation I would make was to choose a site that was locally popular, industry relevant and picked up by Google. This advise seemed even more appropriate when it became clear that Google was using review quantity as a factor in Google Maps ranking. Some small businesses went beyond just responding to reviews to setting up formal systems to actively encourage reviews that would ultimately show up in Google Maps,
However over the past 2 months the changing landscape of Google has made this practice more difficult to pursue. There are a number of interesting and seemingly related reports of changes in Google’s handling and listing of reviews.
Just the facts, mam:
â€¢ Add your reviews to businesses on Google Maps Google Lat Long Blog, June 19, 2007 at 10:59 AM
â€¢ Has Googleâ€™s relationship with CitySearch changed? and other Maps insights November 28, 2007
â€¢ Google Maps Not Counting Own Reviews SEO Igloo, January 1, 2008
â€¢ Maps Guide Jen provides an update on the missing CitySearch reviews January 9, 2008
â€¢ Insiderpages Reviews Gone From Google Maps SEO Igloo, Thursday 24 Jan 2008
â€¢ At MacWorld I asked a Google staffer what had happened to the CitySearch reviewsâ€¦they responded that they didnâ€™t know but stated that perhaps is was just a â€œrealigned business relationship like happened with Yelp and the removal of their reviewsâ€. Go figure, I hadnâ€™t noticed the loss of Yelp reviews.
Now that we have the “facts” as we know them out of the way lets look at them a little more closely and move into the much more enjoyable area of speculation!