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Google Keeps The Changes Coming

July 22nd, 2011 No comments

If you’ve recently noticed some odd behavior on your Google Places page – missing owner descriptions, photos appearing and disappearing, missing review snippets, and a great big sign in button – don’t worry! You’re not alone, and it should all settle down soon. Google has been testing a new layout for their Places pages, and it seems those changes are now rolling out.

According to Google, many of their changes were driven by their desire to make the user experience “more focused, elastic, and effortless.” Reviews are all grouped together in one area of the page, making them easier to find and sort through. A large “Write a review” button has been added near the top of the page to encourage Google users to write more reviews.

Review snippets from sources other than Google have been removed, but they are continuing to provide links to sites such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and TripAdvisor so that users can get a “comprehensive view of locations.”

I imagine we can expect a bit more turbulence as these updates fully roll out and more changes in the not-too-distant future, based on Google’s statement about their vision for the future of local search:

  • Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places — because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful;
  • Integrating some of the great information that’s been buried on Place pages into your web search experience across all Google platforms;
  • Giving you more ways to rate, discover and share places you love faster and easier than ever, wherever you are, and on whichever device you choose.

You can find the full, official Google blog post about this update here.

Based on Google’s statements, and their not-afraid-to-fail approach to product launches and updates, what do you think we’ll see changing in the near future?

Categories: Customer Reviews, Local Search Tags:

Negative Customer Reviews Don’t Have to Hurt

May 16th, 2011 No comments

Customer reviews are a key factor in capturing business online; in fact, they’re rated as the number one feature of a website by internet shoppers. But what happens when someone leaves your business a negative review? The reflexive response to a negative comment may be to go on the attack or try to delete or hide the review. Take a deep breath and resist that urge! Negative reviews aren’t necessarily a bad thing; they may actually help you in several ways.

To begin, the average rating for all things online is 4.3 stars out of 5, so the majority of your reviews should already be in your favor. Beside that, consider what a listing would look like if it was filled with nothing but positive five-star reviews. Would you trust it? To potential customers, it can look highly suspicious. No person or business is perfect, and shoppers know that. They’re trying to put together the most complete picture of your business – and your competitors – before they make a choice. A variety of truthful, honest reviews helps them do just that and appears much more credible.

Negative reviews also provide a chance to display your customer service skills. Take the opportunity to set yourself apart from large companies who lack a personal touch in their communications. Respond with a cool head and in a timely fashion. Making things right for dissatisfied customers and handling criticism with a professional attitude can often win you the most vocal supporters your business could want.

The desire to defend your business when faced with a negative review is normal, but try not to let those feelings color how you react and reply. Critical feedback is an ongoing reality for any company, and changing how your business interprets and responds to negative reviews can make them work for you on multiple fronts.

Categories: Customer Reviews, Local Search Tags: