SEO Marketing – How to respond to Google Maps (Places Pages) Reviews

A poor review on Google Maps (Places Pages) could reach thousands of people. Monitoring online feedback is an important part of SEO marketing …

Google is making it even easier for SEO marketing teams to respond to reviews posted on the Place Pages of Google Maps.

Following up on our article on Managing your online reputation, we detail specific and straightforward guidelines to know when to respond to reviews on Google Places – both positive and negative.

Responding to feedback, complaints and criticisms is a learned skill in online reputation management (ORM) – we show you how.

Determine when to respond (positive feedback)

The beauty of the internet is that as well as potential negative reviews, there are brand advocates who are communicating positive messages about your company by word of mouth (WOM). By responding to positive feedback with a simple thank you or acknowledgement, you can enhance the value of the review. According to a study on brand advocates by Deloitte, “Building brand advocacy begins with being authentic, honest and transparent with consumers.”

Determine when to respond (negative feedback)

Sometimes the best SEO marketing strategy for dealing with negative reviews is to simply ignore them and not fan the flames. Here are some situations when it’s best to respond:

  • a reviewer is misstating the facts
  • a genuine mistake has been made and you need to make amends
  • there is a potential for the review to ‘grow legs’ and you want to stop the review at the source

The LatLong Blog suggests a poor review can be seen as an opportunity and “a thoughtful response acknowledging a problem and offering a solution can often turn a customer who had an initially negative experience into a raving supporter.”

If you believe the review violates the posting guidelines, please use the ‘Flag as inappropriate’ link.

Turn a negative into a positive

In most cases, you can actually improve your reputation online by handling a negative review well. It isn’t only the customer in question that will notice either; potential and past customers will often respond better to a business that is diligent, mature and proactive in its handling of poor reviews. David Mihm, a local search expert from Local Search Ranking Factors says your response often has more value for people reading the review than for the person who initially posted it.

Good responses outweigh bad experiences

Mihm says the more reviews the better. If a Google Places listing has poor reviews, try and outweigh those reviews with positive reviews. He suggests asking suppliers, clients or end users to leave favourable reviews and push the negative reviews off the first page. However, he warns against writing shill or fake reviews as Google is getting much better at picking these up and this can affect your Google Places ranking.

Respond in a calm manner

Remember that the internet is a permanent record and your response will be accessible for years or even decades. There are three things you need to do before you start typing anything on your Google Places page.

  • Determine who should respond and at what level. This could be your SEO marketing experts acting on your behalf; it could be your internal marketing manager or yourself.
  • Determine the facts of the situation, and don’t respond emotionally.
  • Make sure you’ve calmed down and are seeing both sides of the situation before you start writing your response.

Be honest

If a mistake has genuinely been made, acknowledge the mistake in a sincere and authentic manner. In the Deloitte’s study, brand advocates said that authenticity, honesty and transparency, and sharing a point of view were the most important factors in determining a favourite brand. Apologise for your mistake and offer compensation where you feel it is necessary. Offering a free product or service is far less costly than the potential damage to your company’s reputation and future earnings.

“Customer service is more critical with all these internet possibilities than ever before. It used to be that someone had a poor experience and they would tell ten friends. Now someone has a poor experience and they tell a 1000 people on Facebook”, says Mihm. However he advises that if you are constantly receiving poor reviews, you may want to look at your customer service and business practices.

Contact us to put together an SEO marketing strategy for your Google Places page on Google Maps.

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