Google are warning business owners, including hotel and B&B owners, that “fake glowing testimonies” written by reputation management companies on Google+ Local pages will be taken down.
Google+ Local used to just be called Google Places. It’s essentially just normal Google search with a location slant. These local search results appear anytime an online user combines a search item with a geographical modifier, i.e., “B&B York.” The results appear as a listing and as pins on a map. They are sorted by their relevance, which is determined by how close each B&B is to your current location when you search.
An update to Google’s spam detection algorithms will grow the number of reviews appearing on Google+ Local but also treat fake reviews more harshly: “If a business accepts paper comment cards it might be tempting to collect them and ‘digitize’ them by posting the reviews on Google+ Local. We ask that all reviews come from first-hand experience and do not allow posting reviews on behalf of others.”
According to Search Engine World, Google has also offered some other tips on soliciting customer reviews: “On a related note, Google advises against companies asking customers to write a review on a computer or tablet located on the business’s premises. Google said businesses should send reminder emails to customers encouraging them to review the business on their own time – just don’t go so far as to give free gifts or discounts in exchange for encouraging them to leave positive reviews, Google warned.”
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