Google’s really done it this time. The “write us a Google review” steps that worked so well for so long soon will work no more.
In the new layout of Google+, if you send customers to your local page they will see no way to write you a review, because there is none. (Sure, there’s a little button that lets users switch to “classic view,” but that won’t last long.)
Once the “new” Google+ has rolled out universally and there’s no option to use the “classic” layout, you’ll only have two ways to get customers to the place where they can write a review: (1) tell them to search for your business by name on Google.com if they’re on a desktop or (2) tell them to use the Google Maps app if they’re on mobile.
There have always been at least a few serious downsides to those two methods:
- Customers use different browsers and devices.
- The Google Maps app hasn’t always given you the option of writing a review.
- Google wouldn’t always pull up the right Google page – the one you want reviews on – even if you don’t have problems with duplicate listings.
Soon you won’t have a choice. (Why Google did this is a whole separate discussion, for another day.)
You can no longer even add a parameter to the end of your Google-page URL to have the “write a review” window pop up when your customer clicks the link (e.g. https://plus.google.com/+localvisibilitysystem?review=1).
I’ll probably have to update my battle-tested instructions for the 4th or 5th time since 2011, at which point you can order a slick one-page PDF that makes a frustrating process simple as possible for customers.
Until I get around to that, here’s a rough outline of the easiest steps you’re asking reviewers to do:
- Sign into Google Plus OR create a Plus page if you don’t have one already.
- Type in such-and-such to pull up our page; do this at Google.com if you’re on a desktop or in the Google Maps app if you’re on mobile.
- Find the “Write a review” button and write your review.
Also, the type of link Mike Blumenthal suggests will work. Of course, providing a link only works for email-based requests. I usually suggest asking in-person and following up by email when necessary.
The kicker is that Google still requires reviewers to have a Google Plus page in order to write a review, which has been a PITA since May of 2012. I heard murmurs some months ago that Google will go back to requiring just a Google account (not a Plus account) to write a review, but I need to go back and try to find where I heard that. In any case, I’m guessing Google will stop requiring a Plus page sooner or later.
Anyway, Google reviews will continue to be huge for your local visibility, even if Google’s made it a little harder for you to get them. Roll with the punches.
Any thoughts, tips, or workarounds?
Have you tried asking for any reviews since the layout change?
Leave a comment!
My clients “Back to Cassic” button does not work. Click on it all you want and nothing changes 🙁
Hmm. I haven’t run across that yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this “preview” rollout is laden with bugs.
This is because they are running Internet Explorer. We figured this out yesterday. The button works in Firefox and Chrome, but not IE.
Perhaps this is the beginning of the end for G+ reviews? I can’t think of any logical reason why they’d omit that. Especially with the news of them partnering up with HomeAdvisor.com for the construction industry — perhaps they are going to go back to pulling review data from trusted 3rd party sites (homeadvisor, angieslist, yelp, etc.)? Will be interesting to see if there are more partnerships like HomeAdvisor for other industries in the coming weeks/months.
I see what you mean, Zach, but this isn’t the beginning of the end of Google reviews. Google does flip-flop on its features and rollouts early and often. But the divorce of Plus and Local has been in the works for a long time now – well before the new, ramped-up, gamified version of the “Local Guides” reviews program. Google’s grand plan for “local” will appear full of contradictions until it’s clear what the plan is. Whether that plan is wise and not “evil” is anyone’s guess.
There’s still no clear leader in the reviews space, and Google has had a toe in those waters for too long to let Yelp and Facebook get all the tasty waves.
Ya I hear ya, it just seems really odd that if they were still planning / wanting to keep their toes in the proverbial review waters and perhaps get their feet/legs wet someday — that they’d make that an important, or even a part of these new pages. But then again, this is Google we are talking about… I don’t even think Google knows what they are doing 🙂
True. Google seems to be killing off the concept of a “page” for a local business. Essentially all the online “real estate” that Google’s giving each business is in the knowledge graph – where Google can throw in ads and whatever else it likes. But reviews are a big part of what draws people’s eyeballs to the KG, and what keeps them from going somewhere else to research local businesses.
They’ll continue to push reviews hard, and reviews will continue to be plenty visible in the search results, but essentially they’re now floating around in the ether.
I agree that Google probably isn’t giving up on reviews, I’m telling people to keep pushing for them until we know otherwise, especially as long as the classic view is still around. I would expect that Google will eventually make it easier/more obvious for people to leave reviews, hopefully that doesn’t take too long, but you never know 🙁 Meanwhile, might be a good time to diversify your reviews anyway, something you’ve always preached, Phil.
That sounds like an excellent approach, Tony!
Jason Bauman says
I’m still getting used to the new Google+ design on my personal account. I haven’t used it on my “work” account yet.
One thing they might be trying is to push people to using Google Maps to leave reviews more. They recently started a program where customer who leave quality, long form reviews of companies can “earn” free cloud storage space and other perks.
This refresh is big. It did away with a lot of features that Google+ used to embrace and introduced some things that we’re still figuring out. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google is going to treat this like they did back at launch. Get the consumer stuff right and then start worrying about businesses. They’re pulling out the “forced to sign up” stuff left and right, and I think this means they’re really hoping to push the social aspect of G+ again, which means the other benefits might be on the backburner, for now.
As an avid G+ user (seriously), I’m excited to see these changes. As someone who helps company’s build their presence online, I’m annoyed, but taking the wait and see approach.
Do you have a link that talks about that free cloud storage program?
Jason Bauman says
Yeah, there’s a few out there. I read it in the Motley Fool:
Waiting on the inevitable Yelp! op-ed
One day Google will require a Yelp account to leave Foursquare review on the Yellow Pages that will feed Merchant Circle that will push to back to the GMB page. All will be right in the world, then.
Actually, I think it already works like this but I need a RateMD’s account to pull it off.
I’m off to create an ebook about how to do this (just part 1 of course).
Heh…that’s so crazy it might just happen!
Jon Hall from Grade.us says
This pretty much sums it up, lol.
Would finding the business location on Google Maps (on desktop or mobile), copying the URL and then running it through a URL shortening tool work? While this method is by no means perfect, it wouldn’t be prone to the whims of the Knowledge box and Google search. Plus, a shortened URL would be easy to add to a webpage, email or printed collateral.
If you grab the right URL, sure. The trouble in general with link-centric methods of asking for a review is that you have to get customers that link somehow, and email is the only good way to do that. That limits you. I usually also suggest asking in-person first, and giving customers the chance to follow through without your having to email them.
Brent Carnduff says
I haven’t tried it yet, but they discuss a work around in the comments section of this article https://www.uksbd.co.uk/how-to-get-more-google-reviews/
Thanks. I saw that. I wouldn’t say “workarounds” apply here, because (1) other than giving customers the right instructions, there’s no way to avoid having to give customers that link, and because (2) it’s not that hard to provide them the link. So I’d just call it an alternative technique.
I wonder what will happen to the reviews that we already have. They have been instrumental in getting me new business. I would hate to see them go away. In the past Google would remove reviews as they pleased. At one point I had 48 5 star review and then a few years ago about half of them went away. Now I am back up to 34.
Gerry A Foster says
Might this be a time that we go the way of dealing with Yahoo listings? Encourage people to leave reviews on Yelp, instead of Google? Being that there is so much more work in getting google reviews to “work?”
Mike Batchelor says
Just link like this.
W. Bridges says
For now it looks like the direct review link above is still working. when does this take effect?
The direct link will continue to work for as long as Google supports the “classic” Google+ layout. Nobody knows how long that will last.
Michael Smitley says
All you have to do is search for your business on Google Maps (even the desktop version,) cut and paste the URL or link it to a button inside an email. Here’s mine….try it out!
Arvind P says
I have started using Google Search with knowledge box + Shortened url like this https://goo.gl/WK9W1l . I think this is the best option we have right now. It supports most of the mobile devices.
I just can’t see someone taking all these steps to give you a review. People are lazy. Forcing them into a g+ account or jumping through any amount of hoops just going to keep those conversions down. Getting so sick of google nonsense.
People are lazy, but Google reviews aren’t hard to get if you offer clear instructions.
Man, this is so frustrating. I’ve called Google asking for a simple way to leave a review on the new google plus and the horrible support I’ve received is just stunning. One representative spent about 10 minutes trying to explain, quite poorly, how to create a link in gmail. The problem that their is no method of getting a valid link was unheard. They then suggested that I repeat everything they told me to my employer, he should be able to do it. What it is that I’m trying to do, they don’t seem to understand. They’ll call me tomorrow. I’ve heard that and more than a month ago they told me they’d update me when anything changes.
Ryan - ThatsGravy Designs says
Thanks for this! I’m disappointed that visitors aren’t able to see the reviews from the Google+ business page, and that the only way to see reviews is during a search in Google. I did create a forwarding URL that I give to clients requesting a review for my web design services. That makes it the link look less crazy and more professional.
Small Biz Geek says
There is still the following URL that works, minus the convenient pop up review box
You can access the above inside your Google My Business dashboard
Megan Vorhees says
This link leads to an error page 🙁
Small Biz Geek says
It’s just a template link. You would insert your own Google page IDS in the appropriate places.
Megan Vorhees says
I was so thrilled to find out that you could copy the URL with the star rating for clients, unfortunately I don’t think that Google is letting you do this anymore. Whenever I copy that link and paste it in a new window, it leads me to the search results page but not the pop-up review option.
Is it working for you?
There’s both a way to do it still, and a free tool to do it for you: