Customer reviews are a fundamental part of your local marketing efforts and online reputation. If you can get enough good ones, they can go a long ways. A slew of good reviews can boost both your local search ranking as well as click-through rate (CTR), which should ultimately lead to converting more customers.
A Local Consumer Review Survey (2012) showed that approximately 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.
But building customer reviews, and doing it ‘the right way’, especially on Google (with all of their flip-flops and recent updates) has been a dizzying process for SMBs.... [Read Full Article]
Recently, we've been using the new Google Verification Support Line for those irritating PIN postcards disappearing within the black hole that is the U.S Postal System, and with satisfying results to boot. Upon providing the requested account information for the listing in limbo, Google will force through the verification and immediately send it to their "pending review" process. Granted there are certain criteria that need to be met prior to a "we'll call you" phone call a la Fight Club (which can be bypassed with some harmless fibbing), it is still an effective solution to a previously hair-pulling problem. No longer are the weeks of waiting for a vague email response to submitted report, only to find yourself back where you started after the dust settles. Instead Google has uncharacteristically opened a direct line of contact.
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The shift to social (Google+) has been indicative of a more democratized local algorithm. Further evidence is Google Map Maker being increasingly relied on as the back-end for Google+ Local. Looking ahead, the Google Local Business Center used for edits/updates/reporting will likely be wholly integrated into Google+ Local with Map Maker serving as the back-end “mapper-driven” verification tool.
We've just put out a 2012/2013 Google+ Local SEO Guide which points out a few things SMB Marketers should be aware regarding some updates to Google+ Local, including some tips to improve visibility in local search.
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