Google Reviews – One URL To Rule Them All

It’s never easy running a business. This is particularly true if you are running your own online review management program and are sending your customers to a Google URL to leave you a review. Google, in their infinite wisdom, seems to change their link to leave a review more frequently than a teenager changes moods.

Google review link URL

With the recent divorce of Google Plus and Google My Business, they have once again thrown a Google monkey wrench into the review process. If you are not using GetFivesStars (where we get to worry about these details) you need to decide which review URL to give your customers going forward.

The link you give to your customer should just work all the time and make it easy for your customers to see and leave you reviews at Google. For most small businesses doing their own review requests you ideally want a link that:

  • Gets your customer very close to the place on Google to be able to leave a review with the fewest clicks and scrolls.
  • Works in both desktop and mobile environments (as mobile usage is reaching 50% of all web viewing).
  • Works whether the user is already logged in to Google or not.
  • And finally, is a link that you never have to change.

There are number of URL’s that you can use and several online utilities to help you to generate these links (here is a good one). Unfortunately some of the links generated by the utilities don’t work in all the required scenarios.

One way to be sure that get the right link is to do it yourself. Here are the steps:

1- Using Chrome, do a brand search for your client in the main Google search results with a single Knowledge Panel result on the right.

It should look like this: barbara oliver & co Williamsville

barbara-search

2- Click on the link that says “View all Google reviews” from the Knowledge Panel on the right.

View all Google reviews

3- Copy the URL. It should look like:
https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=barbara+oliver+%26+co+Williamsville&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8#lrd=0x89d37487dfb1ea75:0x2daea2d3b6aa10c7,1

Google Reviews URL link

4- Note that there is a URL that can take your customer directly to the leave a review box which is very convenient. Unfortunately it malfunctions if the user is not already logged in or is using incognito/private browsing mode in their browser.

5- Never Having to say you are sorry. A URL that will outlast Google.

The link we generated is long and cumbersome. We could use a link shortener to make it more customer friendly but we can do better than that.

Google thinks in terms of 5 weeks or 5 months and changes things very quickly. A business that invests in their own marketing likes to plan in terms of 2, 3 or even 5 years. And likely that big ugly link you just generated will change at some point in future.

We can’t change Google but we can isolate ourselves from their fickle nature. A way to do that with your review link is for YOU to control it NOT Google via what is known as a redirect or a forwarding URL. This is a web based technique to allow one URL to point to another and in this case, allows you as the business owner to own the link that you give to customers.

Building on the example above if Barbara Oliver & Co. Jewelry wanted to give her clients a link to her Google reviews she could create the forwarding URL http://www.barbaraoliverandco.com/google which sends users to the very long and unwieldily link referenced above but via a URL that is branded, easy to remember and ever green.

Most web hosts offer this feature in an easy interface and if you are using WordPress there are simple plug-ins like Redirection that accomplish this task.

If Google changes the review URL, and we can be confident that they will, Barbara can just update the redirect and can continue to use her permanent link in her existing marketing materials for ever without worrying about Google changing it. She owns it and isn’t renting it.  Her marketing materials would not need to change.

Although in reality, since she is a GetFiveStars user she didn’t have to worry about it.

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About the Author

Mike Blumenthal
With unmatched industry expertise and knowledge, Mike is a co-founder and serves as GetFiveStar’s Chief Review Officer helping our customers get the most of the platform. Mike is widely cited as the foremost Local Search expert in North America and affectionately known among his colleagues as ‘Professor Maps’.

11 thoughts on “Google Reviews – One URL To Rule Them All

  1. Phil - December 3, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Do you think Google will flag the review when they see that the referral path originates from a redirect your website?

  2. Mike Blumenthal - December 4, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    No, I do not think so. Google loves traffic and they love reviews.

    An alternative URL would be to take folks to the company’s Google Map URL as that works logged in or no, mobile or desktop BUT in certain scenarios it requires 3 clicks and 3 scrolls for the end user to actually leave a review.

  3. Jason Noblett - December 8, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Hi Mike,

    I have followed the instructions which seem pretty straightforward. I have a problem….

    http://www.marriedtomycamera.com/please-review-my-business

    Which is using the WordPress redirection plugin, which 301 redirects to:

    https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#newwindow=1&q=Married+to+my+camera&lrd=0x4875d08e6e2b34b5:0x49c94e9644394c45,1

    But chrome reloads the page and displays this URL with no review box open:

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?newwindow=1&q=Married%20to%20my%20camera&lrd=0x4875d08e6e2b34b5%3A0x49c94e9644394c45%2C1&rct=j

    Where have I gone wrong, not sure why that is happening. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards

    Jason

  4. Justin Mosebach - December 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    We just discovered that this does not work for mobile (Android & iOS) if the business has no reviews. It does work for desktop if they have no reviews.

    For example:
    This business has zero reviews (and it doesn’t work):
    https://www.google.com/search?q=Trinity+Law%2C+York%2C+PA+17401&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#lrd=0x89c88ea4f3e86617:0xe1ce6e057098d9fa,2

    But this business does have reviews (and it works):
    https://www.google.com/search?q=YDOP%2C+Lancaster%2C+PA+17602&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#lrd=0x89c624ece218b88f:0x619502a7ffde8b69,1

    Anyone figure out a work-around for this?

  5. Erika - December 15, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Mike,

    I’m in the same boat as Jason. I followed your guide step-by-step, but the review lightbox doesn’t pop up in incognito or if logged out. Our business page has plenty of reviews, so I don’t think the problem stems from a lack of reviews.

    Thank You,
    Erika

  6. Mike - December 15, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    @Justin
    the one that doesn’t work has a ,2 at the end. Did you try it with a ,1

    @Erika & Jason
    Google has changed what happens with the redirect. That behavior is different than it was and apparently they don’t like the redirect to the review box… but the Google review shortener does NOT exhibit that behavior. See https://goo.gl/8BDU3M

  7. stan denman - January 16, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Does this work if the customer has not established a google profile?

  8. Jo Shaer - January 26, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Mike

    I have been struggling with this for three days now as I had all of the problems mentioned above.

    Here’s what I noticed…

    Jason is using a link that includes the word “source” rather than “search” so the link is slightly different to the example you used. I had this problem too, along with the fact that my link seemed to include % instead of the + symbols in your example.

    I also had issues because I was working with a client who had no reviews. As soon as he was able to get a couple of client reviews, the URL for the pop up began to match the example you showed in the post – the link included search and +.

    I now have it working using the Redirection plugin and the domain/google link across Chrome, Firefox and IE on PC both logged in to Google and incognito. It also works in Chrome on my android browser.

    In the UK we are always behind you guys so now I am concerned that it may all go pear shaped in a few days. Do you have a link to the Google review shortener?

  9. Matt - February 1, 2016 at 3:36 am

    This doesn’t seem to work on smartphones anymore (or at least not on my iphone). The review box pops up but only the grey stars show up and no comment box and when you click the number of stars you wish to give, it appears to do nothing (the page refreshes but no review is left and you don’t get a chance to write an actual review).

    Does anyone else have this problem?