Google Places Now Allows Replies

Given the ease and instantaneous nature of reviews on places like Google Local, SuperPages, and CitySearch, handling reviews of your business improperly can come back to bite you. Last month, I highlighted a couple real world examples of bad online reputation management. Even if your intentions are good, it’s always best to carefully think before you react.

Well, it seems the fine folks at Google read my article and (as usual) decided I was right and that they should help the process along. Thanks, Google! Just send me an e-mail and I’ll let you know where to mail the check for my awesomeness.

On August 4, Google released news that they would like to help business owners handle their reviews in a respectable manner. Per the official Google Lat Long Blog:

Starting today, if you’re a verified Google Places business owner, you can publicly respond to reviews written by Google Maps users on the Place Page for your business. Engaging with the people who have shared their thoughts about your business is a great way to get to know your customers and find out more. Both positive and negative feedback can be good for your business and help it grow (even though it’s sometimes hard to hear). By responding, you can build stronger relationships with existing and prospective customers.

It’s important to note that even though Google now gives Google Places verified business owners a mechanism to reply to reviews, this is only available for reviews placed directly through Google. So that InsiderPages review that’s on your Google Place Page? You’ll have to deal with that the old-fashioned way.

Additionally, just having the power to have your review response show up with you listed as a “Verified Owner” doesn’t actually give people the common sense to be able to respond properly. Here’s a case in point from a business owner who obviously doesn’t know how to deal with a negative review online:

Review sites such as Yelp and Google Local understand that it can be upsetting to business owners to receive such comments, so they’re starting to lay out guidelines and suggestions to help business owners.

If you own a business, or represent one online, take the time to read the available guides and consider your options before posting a response:

The 10 minutes you spend reading now could save you countless dollars in the future.

Also, for more tips on online reputation management, check out these recent Search Engine Watch posts:

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