“Where is my 5 star rating?” “What happened to all my reviews?” These are only a couple of questions business owners are now asking themselves since Google removed all third-party reviews from their Google Places listing.
In the past, a Google Places listing would show every review and rating posted to third-party websites, such as yelp.com and insiderpages.com, and would count these towards a business’ overall “star rating.” However, third-party reviews have recently been pushed towards the bottom of every Google Places listing, and are now referred to as “Reviews from around the web.” Not only have they replaced the reviews with a small link, they have also removed them from counting towards a business’ overall rating.
Why did this change?
Google’s main objective is to provide their users with relevant information quickly and conveniently. Avni Shah, director of product management at Google, explains that now “Rating and review counts reflect only those that’ve been written by fellow Google users,” and that they’re “continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe.” Not to mention that some third-party review sites were not happy with Google “borrowing” their content.
How does this affect me?
As a result of the change, now the only visible reviews & ratings on your Google Places listing are those that have come from Google users. Users must sign into their account and post their review directly through your Google Places listing for it to appear. This forces business owners to encourage their customers to post reviews directly on Google rather than allow them to post on a review website of their choosing.
What do I do about it?
The best way to build up your review count—and increase your visibility—is to encourage past patients to post directly to your Google Places listing. You can promote your listing through any of the channels you already use to communicate with patients. Whether by mail, word-of-mouth, email or through social networking sites like Facebook, make a practice of encouraging reviews as part of your message. A steady focus will allow your total reviews to increase over time.
Like it or not, Google Places’ policies have changed, and a number of your reviews may have disappeared. Don’t let it throw you off. Take this time to build back your star rating and review count. Encourage your patients to post directly to your listing. It’s the best way—and now, perhaps the only way—to make an impression with Google Places.