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You may have seen this button on a Google Places page when you attempted to write a review for a business while you were not logged into your Google account.
Up until recently, if you didn't have a Google account you could not post a review on Google Places. Inside sources are saying that this is going to change! Read current policy.
For business owners, the current policy meant that only about 25% of their happy customers could post an in-store review if they were asked to share their positive experience online.
The Google Places App simplifies review collection right at the point of experience for Google account holders but it left many people unable to participate.
In the automotive industry, Google Places is the #1 free source of referral traffic for car dealers. Our busiest automotive clients have Google Places listings with over 40,000 impressions a month with the average around 15,000 impressions a month.
Properly configured and merchandized Google Places pages drive thousands of clicks per month to the dealer's primary website. Google Places is an important part of a digital marketing strategy; it is the yellow pages meets consumer reports.
This change, according to this source, will be happening over the next week.
What does this mean for Google Places? What does this mean for third party review platforms?
In the automotive industry there are popular platforms that include Dealerrater.com, PrestoReviews.com, and CarDealerCheck.com so what will this change mean for them?
I will have a follow-up article on how this change, when confirmed, will impact 3rd party review platforms.
When this change is confirmed, it will be a great opportunity for business owners and especially car dealers who have strong customer service processes and have implemented iPads in their store for review collection.
Of course, you don't need an iPad to post a review, any device can be used for Google Places; this was confirmed recently by Scott Falcone with an email from the Google Places team.
When Google changes their review posting policy to allow non gmail accounts, I still recommend that business owners spread out their posts to the review website that are dominant in their market on Google Page One.
I especially want business owners to identify existing YELP users because Apple's Siri assistant uses Yelp.com reviews in listing local businesses.
If you have not tested this feature, ask Siri on your Apple 4s this question: "Chevrolet Dealers" and you can see the output Siri gave me in New Jersey.
I also recommend business owners use review platforms that allow the business to own their review content. These platforms allow business owners to syndicate reviews on their blogs, websites, and even to create custom profile pages for the sales professionals.
A solid reputation marketing strategy must acknowledge that many review sites can impact buyers during the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) and thus you can't just focus on Google Places.
However, if this change in policy is confirmed this week, this will be a big boost for Google Places relevance. Dealers who want to increase traffic to their website can focus on increasing their total reviews on Google Places.
It will also allow Google to better monetize the Google Adwords Express program which allows business owners to run ads with their current review counts, as shown below for Norman Jeep Chrysler Dodge in Oklahoma City.
These special Adwords Express ads really stand out from the normal Adwords ads and they have some very interesting ROI, which I will cover at the 2012 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference in Las Vegas, Feb 1-3rd.
So I'll keep you posted when we can get an official response this week to this insider tip.
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
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