by Steven LaLonde – PPC Manager at DragonSearch

Google introduced the User Generated Review feature to Google Maps back in June 07 (about a year ago). It gives anyone the ability to review your business on Google Maps.  With more and more people using Google Maps to find things locally, local businesses should be very aware of how much of an impact these reviews can have.  

I’m convinced that for some local businesses who get ‘searched and found’ via Google Maps, these reviews can really help – or really do some mega damage. 

Here I’ll briefly explain why local businesses should strive to maintain positive reviews on Google Maps, and then we’ll explain how you can quickly get legitimate positive reviews.  In a future article, we’ll talk about dealing with negative reviews (ouch!) on Google Maps Business Listings.  

Why You Want Positive Reviews  

Positive reviews are free advertising.  You don’t have to pay anything to get them.  With a little effort on your part, you can likely expedite the process, and have several real reviews from real customers – in no time, and free of charge.

Positive reviews are extraordinarily powerful.  Just last week, I tried a new chinese food place, admittedly based soley upon glowing reviews I saw on their Google Maps listing.  The reviews sold me.  Best of all, they sold me for free.  The business didn’t have to pay for anything.  Many marketers agree that positive reviews and testimonials are one of the most powerful forms of advertising.  Even as a PPC manager, I must agree.

Positive reviews build brand credibility.  If you have a lot of reviews (more than one) you’ve built up brand credibility for an audience that may not know you yet.  This could make local customers choose you over other businesses.  (Think ebay ‘feedback’).

How You Can Get Them Pretty Quickly:

Ask Your Customers To Review You On Google Maps.  It really is this simple.  Say you’re a florist.  Next time a customer legitimately compliments you, or your beautiful flower arrangements, ask them if they would be willing to reproduce their compliment on your Google maps listing.  Briefly explain that they could find your business on Google Maps, and leave a brief comment if they would like, and that you would appreciate their feedback.  You’d be surprised as to how many happy customers would be willing to take a few seconds out of their day to leave a glowing, legitimate review on your Google Maps listing. 

Don’t Try to Cheat by Writing a Fake User Review.  Customers aren’t stupid.  Even if you try to make it look like someone else wronte the review, you’ll probably get caught.    Plus, it’s just plain wrong to do.  Get real, honest reviews from real customers.

 Is asking customers for Google Maps reviews ethical?  I think so! Businesses ask happy customers for testimonials all the time; for websites, marketing materials, and so on.  Why can’t this be translated into the Google Maps medium?  Just be polite, ask nicely, and let them leave their comments.  As long as you don’t bribe the person, you shouldn’t feel bad about asking customers to share their business experience on Google Maps.

What about existing bad reviews?  If your business has some bad reviews on its Google Maps listing, you may certainly want to do some ‘damage control’.  (You may also want to think about why your business is getting bad reviews). Thats a topic for anoher blog post – stay tuned!