You could argue that 2011 is the year of the troll. Not the monstrous troll of fairy tales, but of the internet. This type of troll is a bitter little bugger full of snark that waits around every corner of the Web to infect you with his bile. Now there are some regions of the internet where trolls might be appreciated… Celebrity Gossip sites, for example. But one of those regions where he is not appreciated by any measure is Google Maps.
A troll’s bogus testimonial on Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, MSN Live Maps, Yelp, and other online destinations is a serious matter to businesses and customers alike. The last thing a business owner wants is for a troll’s negative comment to taint a prospective customer’s first impression of their business. And a prospective customer looking for a great new place to eat or shop doesn’t need their choices swayed by someone who intends harm.
Many businesses, in fact, have complained about false reviews on their Google Places pages. in response, Google has stated in their support forum: “For any reviews that a user has left through Google Maps, simply choose ‘Flag as inappropriate’ with an explanation as to why this review violates our policies. Somebody will take a look at the user’s comments as well as your explanation.”
In addition to flagging, you can respond to a bad review. Verified Google Places Business owners can publicly respond to maps.google.com reviews on their Places page. Be sure to read Google’s guide before you respond to any reviews.
Whatever you do, do not pay any service to remove a bad review on Google Maps or any other online destination, as these removal services are actually scams that have sprung up over the past year.
Ultimately, the internet is a two-way street. Unlike broadcast advertising, advertising on the Internet is a conversation, and the best way to manage your image online is through what you say in the first place. Invest your efforts in communicating value and showing interest in your customers (for an example of positive give and take with customers, check us out on Twitter. ) This type of effort will trump the trolls every time, as you will generate a wealth of positive reviews that will smother any negative ones.
(I’d like to send a big thank you to @thejoeloflethal for the great suggestion for a post via our Twitter Account. Feel free to add your suggestions for future posts in the comments or via our Twitter and Facebook.)