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One of the most common complaints I hear from business owners about online reviews is that they typically have no way of responding to them publicly. I’ve seen some owners post their own review to try and respond to something a previous reviewer may have said.  It’s true that anyone can post a review about your business but it looks pretty funny when the business owner submits a review of their own business just to make a response. Plus it may put a cloud of suspicion over ALL of your reviews.  It may make readers think, “if the owner is posting a review for this, how do I know all these other positive reviews are not from him as well?”.

As a business owner, you should respond to reviews about your business when you are given the chance. Google recently enabled the ability for owners to publicly respond to reviews from customers on their Google Places page. This is yet another reason to claim your Google Places listing in Google. Other directory sites like Yelp have had this capability for over a year; same for SuperPages, CitySearch, and TripAdvisor to name just a few. Both Google and Yelp give you some good suggestions and guidelines on how to respond appropriately to reviews. The short summary is: be nice and view each review as an opportunity to improve your business.

If the review was not completed via your Google Places page, you may not be able to respond.  For instance, Google will typically import reviews from other sources. You can only respond to reviews given on your Google Places page….unless you have access to the other directory’s listing as well. For example if I own my Yelp listing and I see a Yelp imported review on my Google Places page, I can simply go to Yelp to respond to that review there.  It is yet to be seen whether your response will also get imported by Google though.

You must have your business claimed via Google Places to respond to reviews. Simply login to your Google Places account or go directly to your listing on Google Maps while logged into your Google account in which your Google Places listing is stored against.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory. But remember be nice and view each review as an opportunity to improve your business as “The entire world will be able to read it.”

UPDATE 8/26/2010:

As of today Google is no longer showing Yelp reviews within Google Places.

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