In this edition of the Daily Golden Nugget, I'll show you how you can use the interface within your Google My Business account to monitor your business reviews from around the internet.
This is the 3rd part of a multi-part series on using and editing your business account through the new Google My Business interface. Part 1 of this series was a basic orientation of Google My Business and Part 2 went into details of editing your information in My Business.
As explained in Part 1 of this series, when you reach the main My Account screen, you'll be able to click on the, what I refer to as, Brady Bunch-type grid on the top right of your window to access all your business applications. This is what it looks like:
Then click on the orange Reviews icon to access this application and call up the screen you see here:
(click to view larger)
This screen is split to show all reviews people submitted directly on Google at the top of the screen and the reviews found on other websites at the bottom of the screen.
Reading and replying to Google Reviews
Prior to the opening of Google+ in June 2011, users were allows to leave anonymous reviews on Google Places accounts, but now all the reviews are clearly identifiable with a name and profile picture. This review below is what a pre-Google+ review would look like:
Regardless when the review were given, they all have the "View and reply" button to read the full review and post a response to it. This is the view and respond screen:
You should respond to every review, good or bad. Your response shows future customers that you are paying attention to your happy customers and you care enough to help solve the problems of the upset customers. It's important to note that your responses are public, so even if a bad review really pisses you off, you can't express your anger in the response back because it will further detriment your business.
You can read Google's basic best practices right on this screen by clicking the drop down arrow above the response box shown above. Here's a quick screen grab of them:
Click the blue submit button once you've finished writing your well thought out reply.
Reading and replying to reviews around the web
The reviews from around the web will help you discover many of the business directories where users have posted reviews. You'll commonly see reviews from MerchantCircle and CitySearch, but you'll also find business directories that you didn't even know existed.
Google doesn't control any of these 3rd party business listing sites, and their website programming usually doesn't conform to best practices, so Google usually has a hard time reading the reviews correctly.
Take a look at this screen grab of other reviews:
The top review you see there wasn't fully understood by Google. They only understood enough to realize there was a review, but they could not correctly identify the average star rating nor ingest the review correctly.
The second review shown above comes from MerchantCircle. You'll notice that this particular review was ingested correctly because it has a person's name associated with it (Genvieve), the 5-star review rating was understood, and you can even read part of the review that begins with "They are the nicest and most helpful..."
The third review shown above also comes from MerchantCircle, but this one wasn't understood at all. The star rating wasn't captured and the review snippet shown was clearly misunderstood since it mentions "Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center."
Each of these reviews has a "View full review on..." link below the snippet that will open another window and jump you to the found online review. You should take the time to read and reply to each of these other reviews just like you did for the Google Reviews.
Website directories and reviews
It's important to note that you will have to claim your business listing on all the other directories before responding to the reviews. Don't be surprised if they require proof of ownership for the business or if they charge money to claim the listing. Every directory is different, and they're all out to make money somehow. Claim ownership before you need to reply to a review.
For each of the accounts that you do claim, make sure to update all the business information they have about you. In fact, make sure the business name, address, phone number, store hours, and the profile picture all match exactly what you added to your Google My Business account. You can use a different description for your business, but the business name, address, and phone number are of paramount importance to conform to what you have in Google My Business.
By the way, the topic of conforming your business name, address, and phone number information throughout all online business directories is such a common topic among search engine industry professionals that they refer to them as "NAP." Many online blogs won't even bother typing out "name, address, phone" and will simply use NAP.
The last thing I should mention about the reviews from around the web that Google finds, is that they won't find them all. This system is here for your convenience, but as you can see above, it's not perfect. So pay attention to this review area, but don't be surprised if some other business directory appears with a review at some other point in time.