First let me start by clarifying that “Google Places” is the common usage to refer to business listings on Google Maps, but the technical label is “Google My Business”. Therefore, I highly recommend you use GMB in all your references to this topic.
A few weeks ago a fellow WordPress fanatic and I were having a discussion about small business themes. Somewhere in the conversation he had referred me to the team at WordImpress for their Google reviews plugin.
Reviews are hot in Local SEO
Getting them is the hardest part of course, as the service providers (Yelp, Google, YP.com, etc) want them to be generated organically and not solicited.
However, we all know how often people run to leave a review for a business. They’re either pissed off or just the type of person that leaves reviews. If we as business owners are to spread the good word, we need to make it easy.
This is why I was very excited to find a plugin that shows off our preferred review locations on our WordPress websites.
You can’t leave a review on these sites from your site
There’s just no write APIs (connections to the review site to write to remotely). This is sad. However, I have respect for the review service providers as everyone has their business model.
What this plugin does help with, is linking directly to your business listing on Google. That does make it fairly easy to get reviews more organically for previous and existing customers on your site, or when you direct them there.
The same goes for each individual review plugin/widget for Yelp and YP.com. You can also get all 3 as a Business Reviews Bundle.
Plus it looks good.
Local search community scrutiny
So, with all this in mind, I went to the ultra white-hat (rule followers) SEO communities I’m in and asked around if anyone was familiar. Turns out Mike Blumenthal had given a write up last year when he discovered it. You can read the back and forth over there, but I’ll sum it up for you here.
The primary concerns were:
- Does it violate ToS?
- Does it utilize schema.org best practices?
No, and Yes.
Since it utilizes an API key, the review sites do not identify the text on your site as duplicate content and therefore does not trigger filtering.
There was once schema.org markup, but it has been removed.
From the horse’s mouth
Fortunately Matt Cromwell from WordImpress had reached out to me to inquire as to whether I had any questions about the plugin or affiliate program.
We had an email conversation that ironed out the details and cleared up any confusion. He has given me permission to share it with you here:
I may have mis-spoken Matt, my apologies. I just read the blog post he referenced from last August: http://blumenthals.com/blog/2014/08/04/a-plug-in-for-adding-google-reviews-to-your-wordpress-blog/