“How do I generate a direct link to get customers to review my business on Google in 2016?”
RevenueJump’s site has been online for less than three weeks, but that’s a search query we received from a Bing searcher on Saturday. I personally understand why someone might use Bing for that search, as it seems like something Google might not want you to know.
Over the past several months, Google has been playing a strange game of tug of war with Google+ business pages and Google Maps pages. If you don’t already have a few Google reviews, it’s hard to get reviews, since your customers can’t review you directly from the search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you don’t have any Google reviews, start with this post I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It will help you get set up and ready to earn reviews.
“That’s all fine and good, Brodie, but how do I get a link to my business for Google reviews?” you might ask. And it seems like a lot of people are.
If you dig around a little, you can find several ways to direct link your Google Business reviews page. I’ve personally found four methods, but I’m sure there are more. Let’s take a quick look.
There’s a tutorial for each method below, but if you want a quick fix, here are your four options:
- PlePer.com’s link generator
- Supple.com.au’s link generator
- Netrite’s Google review widget
- Manually build the URL
As far as I know, Stan Kolev was the first person to develop a direct link tool for Google reviews. It’s a good one and it lives here at PlePer.com. I linked to it in that blog post about getting Google reviews, as well.
From the developer, over at Local Search Forum:
The tool finds the CID (unique identifier for your business across all Google products) and based thereon generates [a] variant of 4 links where your clients can write a review.”
Here are the variants:
- Variant 1: Variant one sends your customer to Google search’s knowledge graph listing for your business.
- Variant 2: This search result only works for users that are logged into Google, and might only work for Google+ activated accounts. If your customer isn’t logged in, this won’t work.
- Variant 3: This variant sends your customer to the Google login box, and then redirects them to the review box.
- Variant 4: This one is almost the same as variant 1, but doesn’t automatically generate the review box from Google Maps/the Knowledge Graph.
Each of these variants can generate three types of link URLS: a full URL, a shortened goo.gl URL, or a QR code.
To use this tool, you can either:
- Use the “Link to maps” option and enter the URL to your Google Maps location or your CID (a unique number for your business Google used across all services). You MUST use this function if you run a service area business (skip to this section for that tutorial)
- Start typing your business name, find the appropriate listing, and select it from the drop-down menu. This method should automatically find your Google maps URL, and is the easy way to generate your link.
Let’s take it for a spin, using Boise business, Modern Dental as an example.
I decided to use the “autocomplete field.” I simply started typing “Modern Dental” into the box:
I confirmed the listing and clicked on it, resulting in this:
Then, it was just a matter of scrolling down and clicking on the big blue button:
I was then taken to this page:
We can see the four variants here. Two of them aren’t working for some reason, but the other two are. I chose variant 4, because it seems like it will work for the largest amount of users.
I then clicked the “try me” link:
I tried it while I was logged into Google, as well as in incognito mode. It works!
In short, all your customer needs to do, at this point, is scroll down and click “write a review” on the Knowledge Graph on the right-hand side of the page.
That being said, I used Chrome on a desktop Mac. It might not work across all platforms (especially iOS and Android), so you’ll need to test it.
PlePer will also generate a unique link that works on all devices if you register for a free account.
Updated 1/28/16: We received an email from Stan, the tool’s developer, last night. He had a few updates for us. If you run a “service area business,” you’ll need to take a different approach to generate your direct link. Google defines a service area business as any business that isn’t based out of a traditional brick and mortar location.
The autocomplete feature on the PlePer tool won’t detect service area businesses.
“The technical reason for this is that Google deprecated SABs from the autocomplete API,” says Stan.
If you want to generate a review link for your service area business, you need to either do it manually (see section four of this article), or use the “link to maps” function in the PlePer tool.
Navigate to Google Maps. In the search bar, type in your business name, select it, and push enter.
Copy that big, long, URL and paste it into PlePer’s tool, like this:
Following the steps outlined above for brick and mortar businesses, generate your link. I clicked ‘try me,’ on variant 4, and it was successful.
This is a great tool, but it might not be the easiest one out there. It is, however, the only tool on the list that will generate a link to a service area business. If you run a service area business, this tool and generating a manual link are your only options.
Let’s move on to the next tool.
This next tool is very similar to PlePer’s tool, but it’s a bit simplified. As I noted previously, it probably can’t generate a link for service area businesses. You’ll need to use either option one or option four for that.
With this tool, we just type the business name into the search box, but there’s a catch. Since Supple is based in Australia, it looks for Australian businesses first.
I corrected this by simply entering “Modern Dental Boise” into the search field:
It found the listing within a microsecond.
Next, I clicked the business name and came up with this:
If I scroll down, I see two options. The first option gives me a full-length URL, a shortened URL, and a QR code. It takes visitors directly to the review box, regardless if they’re logged in or not, which is pretty neat.
I tested it while logged in and while in incognito mode, and it works perfectly.
Either way, I see this:
You’ll see the second link option if you scroll down. This option works much the same, but the link will only work for customers who are logged into their Google account. Choose wisely. In most cases, I’d play it safe with option 1.
3. Netrite’s Google Reviews Widget
Unlike the other link generators, Netrite’s solution involves a widget you embed somewhere on your website. It works really well, but it is a little less intuitive than the other options. It’s still pretty easy, and I’ve written a tutorial below.
Netrite is based in the UK and the instructions are a bit unclear, so I had the most luck pasting Modern Dental’s full address into the location field. I also filled out the captcha and clicked ‘check location’:
I then clicked on the address again, which was accompanied by a map marker icon:
Next, I typed in the business name and hit “enter”:
Then I clicked on the map marker, which popped up a little window with the business name:
Then, if I scroll down, it gives me a box containing the code I need to embed the widget somewhere on my website:
Note: I haven’t embedded the widget anywhere on RevenueJump, so I can’t 100% vouch for it. I do like that it adds a Google review field directly to your site, though. It seems like it could work really well for your verified customers.
You’d only need to set it up at its own URL on your site and direct your customers there, and I imagine you would be good to go.
I repeat, though, that I have not actually embedded it on my website. Netrite looks like a trustworthy agency to me, but embed it at your own risk.
Update: 1/29/16: We received an email from Netrite. Once embedded, the widget will not contain an ad. That’s something we got wrong previously. Richard Escott, Netrite’s creative director, sent over a screenshot, as well.
This is what the widget will look like on your site:
4. Generate the URL Manually
Terry Simmonds also came up with a way to generate the review yourself. If you’re a more hands-on person, or if you just want to see how the sausage is made, I recommend you check out his post here. This method also works for service area businesses, whereas options two and three will not.
I’m not going to walk you through it because Terry does a great job of it himself.
Now if you need to get your Google maps review link (or however you want to phrase it, there are a thousand ways to pose this question), you have at least four different options. I’m sure there are even more out there.
If you don’t have many Google reviews, now is the time to start earning them. It’s never too late to catch up. “It’s too complicated!” isn’t an excuse any longer. Now you definitely know how to direct link your Google Business reviews page.
Question: Which of these four methods is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.