The other day, I was asked by one of our partners what I thought about the recent Marketing Land article, Google Drops Display Of Local Business Reviews in New Google+. I was surprised they went with the angle that Google removed reviews and NAP (name address phone number) data from Google+ pages because they’re giving up on their efforts in supporting the small business market on their social platform.
I believe quite the opposite. In fact, in my view Google’s actions prove they are listening to local businesses and moving to embrace them.
Google knows how important reviews are to consumers looking for businesses, and they still provide them both in search and maps. Also, it’s still easy for a consumer to write a review, as shown in the image. As a business, you can still respond in your “Google My Business” dashboard or with a Vendasta Reputation Management product.
So why did they remove them from Google+ pages?
My take: businesses asked them to. As a business owner would you take time to build, nurture, and promote a Google+ page where anyone could openly disparage you? I know I wouldn’t.
I believe that Google did some research to find out why businesses and brands were not adopting and promoting their Google+ pages. I further believe they were told straight up by these businesses that they didn’t want to build, promote and maintain an online presence where disgruntled trolls or competitors could slam their business with no recourse.
So Google really had no other choice—they couldn’t let businesses only post their positive reviews and bury the negative—they had to take them away altogether, or risk losing the market.
Remember, consumers still get reviews exactly when they need them: at the zero moment of truth time (i.e., when they are searching for what business to use). But now, with the evil reviews gone on their Google+ page, the business can promote, link to and use the page for community and discussions without fear of being screwed by a troll or a competitor. This is the same reason Facebook allows businesses to turn off reviews.
So when you read an excerpt like this:
“…Google has hung out a new and bold sign. If you haven’t gotten the message yet, it should finally be clear in the release of their new and improved G+: BUSINESS UNWELCOME.”
Please take a deep breath and chalk it up to a temporary knee-jerk reaction. The writers of these blogs are smart folks. I am sure that when the dust settles, they will take a longer view, and after more thorough reconnaissance will realize there are valid reasons why a smart and democratic business like Google does things the way they do.
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