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.
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.
Creating A Link To Google For Leaving Reviews
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
2- Click on the link that says “View all Google reviews” from the Knowledge Panel on the right.
3- Copy the URL. It should look like:
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.