Google is upgrading its Google Place for Business service so users can collect everything their customers are saying about them online in a single, viewable place.
The concept of tracking and pulling together online reviews isn't new. Online review sites like Yelp and Bazaarify make a business of it.
However, using these services requires the motivation and will to deploy them, not to mention a financial investment — something the new Google Places for Business service does not require for those who are already signed up.
With Google Places for Businesses, users with a verified business listing will be able to view what is being said about them all across the web.
Google announced the new service last night in a post on the Google Business blog by Qasar Younis, senior product manager at Places. He noted that users will not only be able to see what is being said about them, but will also be able to engage in conversations with reviewers.
He also suggested — not surprisingly — that those who are using this service should combine it with Google+ and encourage people who are posting reviews to also post them on the business’ Google+ page.
The new service gives priority to reviews coming from other Google products but does not limit itself to them. It also takes reviews from other sites like UrbanSpoon and TripAdvisor. The reviews are accessible from the Google Places page, where users can access them with a tab on the interface.
Google Places for Business Review sample view
Google+ Local Reviews
What is not clear from the post is when exactly Google will be rolling this out, even though it gives the impression that it is available now. However, from a number of online forums, it is clear that the review tab is not yet available to everyone. Its use is also limited to small businesses.
Google Places for Business Review list
It is not clear why Google has added this to Places and not to Google+ too. Earlier this year, it added a local review feature to Google+ with the introduction of a Google+ local review tab in March.
This enabled people who had done a review of a local business to place that review on their Google+ profile page. Google also said that with this feature, it would be suggesting other local businesses to be reviewed.
Because of this, it would seem to have been an idea to add the new review compilation feature to Google+ rather than Places or, even better, integrate the two so that reviews and information that are gathered on Places also appears on Google+ and vice versa.