Google throws its (heavy)weight behind local reviews

Google throws its (heavy)weight behind local reviews

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Mike Fantis

As the undisputed heavyweight champion of the digital age, Google rarely attempts to hide its ambitions. In fact, in a thoroughly disrupted year that has dramatically accelerated digital uptake, the search giant has made huge, conspicuous leaps forward in both shopping and local.

For the latter, Google has now enlisted two-time unified heavyweight world boxing champion Anthony Joshua as it takes the fight to its rivals in the review space—most notably the controversy-courting incumbent Trustpilot.

In the ad made specifically for British television, Joshua takes a whistle-stop tour through his Golders Green stomping ground and implores viewers to “support local businesses you love with a little help from Google”.

This isn’t only Google’s latest effort to establish dominance in local reviews: it’s also its most direct tactic to date. With so many small businesses fighting to survive the continuing impact of the pandemic, this primetime ad spot is Google’s attempt to highlight its local platforms, generate goodwill among businesses and consumers alike, and position Google My Business as a benevolent force for good.

The stakes have been raised

So it’s good news all round, right? Well, not exactly. Life is about to get even tougher for businesses that treat store reviews as an afterthought. And make no mistake: very few businesses are actively responding to their local reviews. Even those with the resources to dedicate entire teams to digital are unable to translate their investment into measurable store performance at the local level.

It’s a crazy situation. Brands that pride themselves on in-store customer service are essentially ignoring the same people online, not realizing that online ratings have a direct impact on local pack rankings. Worse still, when customers report negative experiences, those harmful reviews remain visible forever, prompting new prospects to opt for an alternative instead.

A negative Google review with a response from the business owner

As Google steps up its efforts, so too must all brick-and-mortar businesses. Google just gave its reviews a shot in the arm, and its search platform is inching closer to becoming a zero-click experience—users don’t even have to click through to your website or social feeds to make their purchase decisions.

If you’re not able to respond to all of your local reviews and proactively manage your local listings, your problems may be about to multiply. Fortunately, local just happens to be our primary area of expertise as one of the world’s most significant Performance Marketing Agencies. Let’s talk.

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