Google has just announced the addition of local reviews to their popular local map features. So, just to see how this works, I popped over and did a search for my favorite pizza place nearby and did my first "user review" on Google local maps. It was quick and easy and I'll probably do more soon.Growth in Google Searches
According to a recent report by Hitwise (released yesterday), Google carried 65.13% of all searches in the USA during May. This, compared to the 59.27% market share for Google the same time last year, shows that Google is only growing in popularity. No big surprise there.
Importance of Local Search
Many agents have noticed the fluctuation in page rank and SE results for real estate keywords with the latest alogrithm tweak by Google. It's frustrating for you, but more frustrating for your clients who end up landing on less than useful pages. Local search becomes increasingly important as general searches provide less tasty results.
And... these new reviews are centered on the local search and mapping scenario.
Who You Gonna Call?
It's a bit unclear how this will look in a few months. Maybe, like many "reader-centric" services (think Wikipedia), this will be a great thing. Maybe it won't. But I'd be interested to know how you expect it to roll, if you are going to watch your reviews and how you plan to handle any reputation defense issues, should they arise.
What Will You Say?
Now, I'm wondering as a reviewer... is there any legal liability if I say that I've dealt with a business or a professional that's less than "professional" in their actions? With people suing because a potential buyer said they have tacky colors in their home -- I wonder what will happen with THIS one!
My question to agents and brokers is...
How important will reputation management become as a service as these "come as you are" reviews are not only opened up, but second nature to those folks who use Google? Will you monitor or ignore these reviews?