Google Places Review Issues
Over the last year (plus) there have been numerous hypotheses shared regarding Google Places and the practice of customers entering reviews while still in the dealership or business. The crux of the discussion was whether or not Google was blocking reviews from a common IP address because of the possibility of gaming the system or as some have suggested, because a customer might feel “pressured” if asked to do this review while still at the business location.
Many opinions and theories have been discussed and argued, many agendas fostered, and many hours wasted on ineffective and expensive processes that did very little for the user experience or to solve the real issue of getting to the root of the rumor, to dispel or confirm it.
We now have a definitive position from Google. The following is a correspondence to Presto Reviews regarding this very important matter:
Nov 10, 2011
I met with the Google Places team today to discuss many of the reoccurring issues you rolled-up in regards to this product over the last several months. Our conversations have been meaningful and I thank you and the team at Presto Reviews for the efforts. Before we recap the takeaways from this meeting, I want to reiterate that dealer business is important to Google and that we are listening to these complaints and committed to finding a better solution.
Pressing Issue (action requested):
Reviews: It is not against Google policy for reviews to be left at a single IP address. Submitting a review at the time of purchase is acceptable. You mentioned that many dealers have received written communication from Google warning them about this practice. I have also heard that dealer’s reviews have disappeared from their Places page as a result of this practice. Neither situation should be occurring.
Action Requested: Please pass along examples (both emails from Google and instances where a dealer has lost reviews) of this issue and I will forward them to our Place team for resolution.
Other Issues (no action requested):
Clustering/Merging Listings: We are aware that a multi-franchise dealer’s Places pages are merging into one listing. For example Joe Smith may own a Ford and a GM dealership located at the same physical address. Despite the fact that Joe Smith has set-up two places pages the system is merging these listings into one. Our team is aware of this issue and are working on a solution.
Time frame for changes to go live: after a change is made to the Google Places page it takes 4-6 weeks for this change to go live on Google.com OR Google Maps. Our team is aware this is a burden to your business and they are working on enhancing the product to allow for more timely changes to occur.
Expect an update from me at the end of 1Q regarding the progress on the issues listed above. If there are any other reoccurring issues you’d like to address, please feel free to pass them along via the channel you and I discussed. Your help is appreciated and we will roll-up the overarching issues dealers are experiencing. I would appreciate if a description of the problem as well as a screenshot is included.
If Dealers are looking for specific answers to individual Places questions, please have them visit one of the appropriate links below. By answering a few short questions, Places page owners will have the opportunity to submit their issue directly to our Google Places team. Please note that typical turnaround time from the team is 7-10 business days.
For incorrect information (or other issues) on any external listing, please visit this Google troubleshooter. For difficulties verifying a listing (either via PIN or bulk verification), please visit this Google listing troubleshooter.
Thank you again for your dedication and efforts to making the Places experience better for all parties involved. We truly appreciate you and your team’s willingness to help!
Google Dealer Jumpstart Team
This is great news for dealers and other businesses alike who have been concerned that they may be violating a TOS or some other policy at Google. It does seem pretty clear that Google’s intent is to provide a good user experience during this process, but making a customer go to a different location such as their home, or mobile device in order to game a system to provide feedback to a business, does not fit that definition. It’s also a positive thing when Google offers up detailed information like this to SMBs who really need it and shows the effort that they are making on becoming more engaged on a local level. Special thanks to Peter who was instrumental in connecting with the Places team on behalf of the dealer body with these issues.
Please visit this Help Page to submit your issues.