Reviews can be a small business owners worst nightmare so you could hear a collective groan from small businesses when Google Places incorporated reviews in search results. To make matters worse, reviews play a significant role in rankings when it comes to local search. If you are a small business, you can now breath a little easier and perhaps put a smile on your face – Google has opened the door for you to respond to reviews – and that’s not just poor reviews either.
From a marketing, branding and reputation management perspective, it’s good news. I’ll even throw a social angle in as well. I suggest that every time someone leaves a review, you respond. However, I do urge caution in two areas.
First, don’t respond with a simple ‘thanks for your comment’ type responses. Make your response count and there are numerous options open to you. You can include references to upgrades, related products or services, and at the same time, further optimize a keyword or two.
My second word of warning, don’t abuse the response by filling it with keywords for example, or by denigrating the customer. If it’s a negative review, then respond appropriately treating it as a customer relations issue. Remember, others will see your response and judge your business on the contents of that comment.
It’s certainly nice to see Google responding to the wishes of small business for a change. Google Places, if you have a local business, be sure to claim it through Google Places then treat any reviews as opportunities to further promote your business.