Google has loosened its restrictions on adding reviews on local results, removing the Google+ requirement. Those reviewing local businesses within Google Maps no longer need a Google+ account to do so.
The search giant has effectively removed one of the major barriers that kept interested parties without a Google+ account from leaving reviews on mobile or desktop.
Mike Blumenthal noticed that Google+ is no longer required when leaving a review. Google Reviews also sported a new interface that was first spotted by search engine marketing fanatic Conrad O’Connell. The modal approach to giving a review has made it easier and more convenient to users.
Those who want to leave a review only need a Google account, regardless if it is gmail or non-gmail based. This includes accounts in Google Drive, Google Play and YouTube. What is important is that they leave a first and last name.
Blumenthal sees the change in interface and requirement as completing the separation of Google+ from Google Local, which had been long and painful. With the first and last name of an individual’s Google+ account still appended, reviews would not be anonymous but a marked separation.
He also said that it “fixed a longstanding bug” where users are not allowed to leave reviews on mobile browsers for businesses without previous reviews.
Google has also made it possible to leave reviews while in the search results page with the updated interface. The new feature is live for both desktop and mobile users.
The new login system and fewer restrictions on who can leave reviews offer potential benefits to local businesses. A business that doesn’t have a Google review would be perceived as having no reviews at all, even if it has hundreds of reviews from Yelp or Facebook. This results in a company being passed up for a competitor with more Google reviews.
With the new process made easier, more people would leave reviews, resulting in a measurable increase. This is beneficial because overall review counts and score are essential parts of a local search’s top ranking factors.
Reviews are also left through Google Maps, an app that is standard on both Android phones and iPhones, and can be installed on other mobile devices. Users can leave reviews in under a minute. They only need to search a local business through Google Maps and look for the Rate and Review area to give a star rating and a review.