qrcode-gmaps.pngFor most business categories, Google uses customer reviews as a critical metric, among other things, to influence how listings rank in Maps -- essentially determining how locally "prominent" the business is. There is also rising importance of Google's own Places reviews as a ranking factor. Coincidentally, as review citations from third party sites have recently become less visibly significant.

Building citations has always been the most important off-site factor for local rankings...now it seems citations AND reviews are equally important...and its not just review volume. Google's first actions seems to be "rank businesses with the most reviews first", and then order those results by positive sentiment. --Jeff Gold (Local Search Ranking Factors Vol. 4, 2011)

More reviews = better rankings. Better reviews = more conversions.

It's also important to note that Google's Local Algo incorporates additional factors when it comes to Place Page reviews:

1) Volume: more > less
2) Quality: positive > negative
3) Authenticity: unique local user > contrived
4) Velocity: sustained > sporadic
5) Relevance: keywords > generic copy

But motivating customers to go online, find your Google listing, and leave a positive review is a pain in the @$$!

The challenge is putting in place a practical system that works; turning your offline customer interactions into online evangelism with as little friction as possible. Enter QR Codes. If you're unfamiliar with QR Codes, they are already pretty commonplace and anyone with a smartphone can use the technology.

Using Offline QR Codes to Generate Online Customer Reviews

wineb-qr-code.pngLast week I was browsing wine at the grocery store and noticed a clever QR Code wrapped around the neck of a bottle of malbec -- it was on sale and the clever marketing drew my attention. I got home, scanned the code with my phone (using a generic "barcode scanner" app), and up popped a cooking video creatively matching the wine with a tapas recipe. I remember thinking, "this is pretty sweet."

My point here is that you can easily harness this same technology to drive customer reviews for any of your products or services on Google. You can incorporate this right at the point-of-sale where customers are most likely to take action, and it's relatively easy to put into place.

The idea is to create a QR Code-driven marketing piece to hand out or display at the point of sale and solicit positive reviews from happy customers.

Here's how to do it:

1) Copy the link from your Google Places page.

Search Maps for your business. Do not use the URL at the top of the browser. Click on the link icon that appears at the far right of the page (Copy this URL).

place-page-link.png
Separately, use the Google URL Shortener to create a truncated version of your Place Page link. This will serve as a secondary option to the QR Code on your marketing piece (see Step 3).

2) Convert link into a QR Code.

Fortunately, there are a number of free QR Code generation tools like Kaywa and QRStuff that make this part easy.

Generate your QR Code (Short Code URL), and download the image.

goo.gl.url-app.pngNote: If you're a Chrome user, I recommend installing the goo.gl URL shortener app.

3) Create Your QR Code Promo Piece.

Because you are using a website destination, the the display size of the QR Code itself needs to be at least 1.25"x1.25" (excluding the "quiet zone" border area).

qrcode-3x3-gmaps.png

You can design any kind of promotional piece you want - 3"x3" works well in my opinion -- business card-sized works too. Any simple image-editing software will help you create this piece. Aviary has a free online editing application that works nicely for this. The important thing is that you include both the QR Code image at a readable size as well as the Short URL (truncated "goo.gl" link) along with a simple and straight-forward call to action.

Test it out.

When a customer has completed their purchase; ask them about their experience. If the response is positive request that they take five minutes to post a review on your Google Places page. Reward the customer with a discount voucher of some sort.


November 7, 2011





Dave Cosper is Vice President of EZlocal. With over a decade of experience in sales and marketing, he oversees all aspects of marketing, product development and client services efforts. Dave has been instrumental in the early success of EZlocal, introducing innovative products and marketing programs from the ground up.

An expert in local Internet-search marketing, he has spent significant time with Local SEO competitive analysis and management of digital media across Local Search.

He has been a key contributor in various companies through start-up, survival, turnaround and growth modes. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Iowa State University of which he credits his outside-of-the-box creativity.

You can find Dave on Google+, LinkedIn, and Slideshare.






Comments(6)

I never thought of using QR codes to get customer reviews, but I have to admit it's a pretty clever idea. The more times you can convince your customers to interact with your brand the better chance you have at creating a positive experience. The easier it is for them to share that experience the better.

Thanks for your nice post.
You have mentioned some QR code generator links but we can generate the QR code for a single purpose like URL, Phone number etc... I would like to know is there any tool to create our whole information into the QR code.

This looks like a very interesting idea. However, I have two concerns you may be able to address. First, I have read that Google does not want you actively soliciting reviews. How does this play into that? Second, in step one you mention saving the link to your Google Places page but I am not seeing those links, either when I am logged in or not. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Ken Partain

1) Copy the link from your Google Places page.

Search Maps for your business. Do not use the URL at the top of the browser. Click on the link icon that appears at the far right of the page (Copy this URL).

When you click on this url that they provide you it does not give you a review place to post a review. example
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=602-753-0404&hl=en&sll=37.09024,-95.712891&sspn=37.683309,106.787109&vpsrc=0&hq=602-753-0404&t=m&z=13

Do I use the other url in the browser instead?

Hi All,

I have not received a response to my previous comment but I have been able to figure out how to get the link directly to your Google Places page.

Steven - using the link you sent you would then click through to your actual Google Places page. Just below the company details is a 'more' button. Click on that and then click Send. That will generate a short email with the link to your places page. Copy everything beginning with http through the long number behind ?cid=. Anything after the & you can leave off.

In your case that link is http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=15673611125962882501

Now you can take that link and create your QR Code.

As mentioned in the article, QRStuff.com is a great tool to use. There are lots of options. You can even link to a map location but it doesn't take you to a specific listing, just an address. So, you wouldn't want to use that option for this purpose.

Great question Ken. Apparently, encouraging on-site reviews is perfectly okay according to Google -- what they want businesses to refrain from is incentives attached to these reviews. Please read an excellent article on this topic that was just recently published (12/6/11) on by Mike Blumenthal's blog titled: Google Places: Onsite “Review Stations” AOK with Google.

Read the below excerpt:

"Several weeks ago, I attended a Google GetYourBusiness online seminar and I was surprised to hear the speaker strongly encouraging SMBS to install a computer at their places of business to use as a station where clients, immediately upon completing a transaction, could easily leave a review on their Google Place’s page. Last week, Scott Falcone sent me a link to a copy of an email from the Google Dealer Jumpstart Team endorsing the idea of review stations. Thinking that maybe the sales side of the house might not be on the same page as the Places team, when the question came up in the forums, I raised the issue with the Places support folks. Their response was that as long as there was no direct incentive involved, it would be an acceptable practice.

Clearly if training, sales and support at Google all say it is OK, then it must be OK to have on site workstations for the purpose of generating reviews. And one can infer from all of this is that the review filter would not block the review based on location (IP) alone."

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Search Engine Guide > Dave Cosper > Google Places Reviews: Getting Offline Online