Over the last few years, online reviews have changed the face of marketing in the world. It can be difficult for people to trust traditional advertisements—we all know that commercials and ads are designed to sell a product, not to give an honest assessment of it. But reviews are another matter. People are more likely to trust a freely-given review from a customer who has no more stake in the product than they do. In fact, surveys show that after personal recommendations from friends, online reviews are the most-trusted source of advertising out there.
Online reviews provide more than just recommendations, though—they allow businesses to easily collect constructive criticism and suggestions, to respond quickly to customers in need, and to boost search engine results. Sites like Google search through reviews on sites like Yelp and Facebook—and for our industry, Apartments.com and Rent.com—and give greater weight to businesses with lots of reviews. That’s why some of the most important online reviews out there are Google Reviews; not only are these reviews given a bit more weight when determining Google’s search results, but they also often appear right in the search results themselves, meaning that these are some of the first impressions that apartment searchers will see.
But there’s a problem. In the past, Google Reviews have been a part of the Google+ social network… but this is no longer the case. Google has been slowly dismantling Google+, moving its more successful elements (like Photos and Hangouts) into new positions (such as within Google Drive or Gmail). And Google’s most recent update has moved Google Reviews out from under the Google+ umbrella as well.
What does that mean for you and your business? Honestly, not much—all your online reviews will still be available, but you’ll need to make a few quick updates to ensure that people can still easily find and fill out your reviews. Check over your website—chances are, the links that used to lead to Google Reviews no longer work. You’ll need to update them if you still want people to leave reviews. Fortunately, the new links are easy to get: just go to this Google Review Link Generator, put in your business information, and it will generate the links that you’ll want in place on your site.
Get those links updated as soon as possible—otherwise, that’s a lot of free advertising that you could be missing out on!