It’s an inescapable fact of modern business that the public’s impression of your company will be shaped in large part by what they find about you on the search engines, particularly if you are a small business. A couple of negative reviews or a few people venting on a Ripoff Report can deter customers from your business for months or even years to come. Up until recently, many of the channels for voicing your opinion were catered to the consumer, but Google is looking to even the playing field for those on the business side of things.
This problem has been an acute concern for locally based businesses in particular—such as restaurants and service companies—that pop up in a section of Google Maps known as Place Pages. Essentially, this works as an online directory, complete with directions, reviews and details about the company. Traditionally, customers have been able to post reviews and comments at will, but there has never been a formal avenue for a response from the company. Google recently announced that businesses will be able to respond to these comments, offering an opportunity to manage their public image.
“For example, 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,” said John Maguire, a member of the Google Place Page team.
Google has offered these basic tips for managing your image on Place Pages:
~Be Nice: Remember, the whole purpose is to be a positive effect on your clientele.
~Don’t Get Personal: Instead of addressing the person directly, simply show how your company has addressed the issue or why it wasn’t an issue in the first place.
~Use the Feedback: While it may hurt to see your business’s shortcomings, it should serve as an opportunity to grow and improve your service.
Of course, most businesses are thrilled by Google’s Place Page service, which essentially gives businesses at the top of the organic listing free advertising. But some companies are more than a little peeved by Google’s service. Much of the information used in Place Pages comes from third party companies, such as Yelp, who haven’t given Google the go-ahead to use their data. This displeasure hasn’t daunted Google, which has been pushing the Place Pages aspect of their enterprise heavily in recent months.