17th Aug, 2017 / Sofiann McKerrellSofiann McKerrell

At 10:00 AM ET, the ability to leave local reviews on Google Maps started returning errors, such as “The Google Maps API server rejected your request….”

review summary

(Screenshot from Google Maps listing. http://bit.ly/2uR1Mrz)

The problem lasted for about 4 hours until Google managed to fix the bug.

During the outage, people can’t post a review for a local listing. Some managed to do so, by repeatedly refreshing the page or clicking on “Write a Review”.

Why the fuss on local reviews on Google Maps

4 hours may not seem a long time but translate to a loss for businesses and marketers.

Within those times, a client could have been about to post a positive review that can help boost a brand’s reputation and engagement. But with the feature returning errors, they could have abandoned Google Maps and one positive review goes out the window.

Considering that a high volume of good reviews can increase ranking in search results, the bug on Google Maps may have cost companies starred reviews.

If it was a negative review, the bug would have been a welcome respite. But you will never know since you can’t take back the 4 hours of outage.

90% of consumer buying decisions are influenced by online reviews, which also have an impact on rankings in local search engines and clicks from search results.

This makes reviews on local listings critical to SEO. They provide one of the tools for on-site optimisation and building citations.

overall ranking factors

(Photo by Shopify POS. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1246/6441/files/onlinereveiws.png?17706280171060235005)

According to a survey conducted by MOZ, 10% of how search results are ranked by Google and other search engines are made up of online review signals. Other ranking factors include place page signals, external local signals, on-page signals, link signals, social signals, behavioural signal, and personalisation.

Takeaway for businesses and marketers

Since you can’t take back four hours of outage, work on acquiring more online reviews to make up for lost opportunities. Create an acquisition strategy that works best for your type of business, small or otherwise.

  • Looking into top-ranking reviews in your industry and the Knowledge Panel in Google to get ideas of what makes a good review.
  • Link to your review profiles to your blog or website.
  • Take advantage of other review platforms, such as Yelp, Citysearch, Foursquare, and YP.com, not just Google. This will ensure online reviews are still coming even when reviews on Google Maps is not possible.
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