Introducing Google’s New Review Monitoring and Management ToolNovember 26, 2013
The “Google and Your Business Blog” has just announced a brand-new review monitoring and management feature simply called Reviews. This feature is available to all businesses that are located in the new Google Places Dashboard, which is still slowly rolling out to the masses.
Owners and managers of a G+ Local page in the new dashboard will be able to see all of the Google- based reviews as well as Reviews From Around the Web which would include sites like Insider Pages and Trip Advisor.
In addition to displaying all the reviews in the Review Inbox, Google will also provide analytic reports for volume and rating stats on both Google reviews and reviews from around the web.
Another great feature Google has integrated is the option to leave owner responses to reviews directly from the dashboard.
This is a great new and free feature from Google. Many reputation management companies offer similar services for anywhere from $20 to $500 a month. This offering by Google indicates that they are committed to investing resources into the rapidly-growing Google Places features. In the last year, Google has started rolling out a new dashboard and offering phone support while continuing to tweak their review filter so that it can be the most reliable system out there.
If this is any indication of things to come, 2014 will be a very exciting year in the world of Google Places.
Another Facelift for Google+ Pages and a Review BugNovember 14, 2013
Google has once again changed the look of their G+ Pages. We are waiting for the official announcement from Google, but according to a source, this is not a test.
Here’s what one Google + Local page looked like before the change:
Here’s that same page afterwards:
Here’s our Imprezzio Marketing page so you can see what an upgraded page with a cover photo looks like:
There also seemed to be a bug riding the tail of this update. Many business owners were reporting that their number of reviews seems to have dropped. It turns out that the reviews were still on the G+ Local page, but the number at the top of the page was off. I checked a few pages this morning and the bug seems to be fixed. Here is the Google announcement.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?November 12, 2013
Back in June Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, spoke to attendees at the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle about the importance of Mobile SEO. “You really need to be thinking about Mobile” Cutts said during his keynote address, “We’re starting to think a lot about Mobile.”
This announcement was made just days before a Google’s Webmaster Central Blog confirmed the upcoming changes, noting, “Smartphone users are a significant and fast growing segment of Internet users…As part of our efforts to improve the mobile web, we published our recommendations and the most common configuration mistakes.”
In this day and age when Google speaks, it pays for business owners to listen. Now to be clear, Google isn’t beginning to bring attention to mobile users to be the bad guy. They simply realise that the Internet is shifting towards mobile users as devices such as tablets and smartphones become increasingly common. Google staff have stated that “To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.” Quite simply if your website doesn’t configure properly to mobile devices then you are leaving your business open to a loss of revenue due to a new-found decline in your rank in search results.
Essentially what Google is saying is that if your website doesn’t play nicely with mobile devices then your ranking on search engines could be negatively affected. Google is clear as to which issues will hurt your rank. First, your website should have a different CSS format for mobile devices that takes into account the size of the devices and the way they are used. This requires you to create a second version of your website specifically to be served up to mobile users. Once your mobile website has been created it is important it works properly. Ask yourself:
- Do my desktop pages redirect smartphone users to mobile-friendly pages?
- Does my website follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design? Namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device?
- Are my mobile redirects configured properly?
Surprisingly, a recent study of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies found that a mere 6% have websites which comply with Google’s mobile requirements. No matter what company you own or work for, your ranking is at risk of being downgraded if your website fails to serve up mobile versions of indexed pages. It is recommended that businesses at the very least ensure that their highest trafficked and highest impact pages webpages include responsive design styles. So if your business isn’t prepared for Google’s upcoming algorithm change, what can you do about it? Increasing your mobile paid search spend isn’t a bad idea: It could just balance any potential decline in your mobile organic placement.
Using a Facebook Account to Post Yelp Reviews – Does it Help Them Stick?November 7, 2013
A sticky review on Yelp is one that is not removed from a business profile by Yelp’s review filter. Several variables are plugged into the algorithm to determine which reviews stick, and which don’t. (What these variables are is not directly mentioned by Yelp.) The filter dynamically removes and adds existing reviews from business profiles. Sometimes it affects positive reviews but overall, it is effective for removing fraudulent reviews (http://www.yelp.ca/faq).
According to Yelp, the review filter is intended to establish an objective standard to which every review can be held (https://biz.yelp.ca/support/common_questions). It may also be able to “put enough pieces of the puzzle” together over time, to filter out fraudulent reviews (http://www.yelp.ca/faq). One piece of the puzzle, I suspect, could be a well-written response by a business owner who has received a negative review (https://biz.yelp.ca/blog).
Yelp’s review filter will “get to know” you over time
According to Yelp, the best way to allow the review filter to get to know you as a new user is to develop a personal profile over a period of time. This includes review activity on your Yelp profile, and your overall activity on Yelp, including interaction with other users and businesses. To further shine, (based on Yelp’s criteria to make it as one of Yelp’s Elite Squad), the company suggests that you “write well written reviews, [post] great tips on mobile, and make sure that you have a fleshed-out profile.”
So, does the review filter count using Facebook to post Yelp reviews as a variable? Will Facebook help make your Yelp reviews stick?
Yelp doesn’t specifically say whether it does or not. It does recommend adding Facebook friends with Yelp accounts to Yelp profiles and inviting Facebook friends to join Yelp. The partnership between Yelp and Facebook itself suggests that Facebook posts of Yelp reviews are valued by Yelp.
What is certain is that being or becoming an established and trusted user will help make Yelp reviews stick; using Facebook to post Yelp reviews may, over time, help to establish this trust.
On July 3rd, 2009, Matt Holiday commented: (http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/07/03/yelp-integrates-facebook-connect-online-reviews-becoming-increasingly-social/) “As more review sites add Facebook Connect functionality, Facebook itself is becoming a valuable source of unsolicited, trusted information on local businesses and services.”
As of Oct. 27, 2013, the Yelp app for Facebook had approximately 1.5 million monthly users (Appmtr.com http://www.appmtr.com/facebook/app/97534753161-yelp/). According to Quantcast (https://www.quantcast.com/yelp.com), Yelp users are 1.4 times more like to visit Facebook. As for Yelp itself, (https://biz.yelp.ca/support/what_is_yelp) over 108 million people visited Yelp in the second quarter of 2013.
So should you use Facebook to post Yelp reviews? We think it can’t hurt.