A Look at Customer Reviews on Local Services ads

Customer reviews on Local Services ads are important. Not only because they’re one of the few items a potential customer will see on the ad, they’re also listed as one of the ranking factors for the Local Services unit.

Update 3/29/18: there is a way to see a little more detail for reviewers on LSA profiles. There are a couple ways to get there, but the easiest (unless you know their direct link) is going a company’s Local Services ad and looking for “ADD A REVIEW +”. If you click on that and then cancel out of writing the review you will be taken to a more detailed LSA business profile. There is a reviews tab, sorted by date (most recent). User names should be listed but you cannot click on their name or profile image. “A Google reviewer” is not present but you might see some named “A verified user”.  These can be sourced from both LSA and GMB. The reviewers with the “A verified user” label appear to be for users with Google accounts that do not have a Google+ profile.

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Customer reviews on Local Services ad profiles come from two sources:

  1. The LSA platform
  2. Google My Business

From within the LSA dashboard, a business can send a review request to the customer. Google also provides a participating business with a custom URL (g.co/servicepro/businessname) they can send to customers. This will take the customer directly to where they can leave a review on the Local Services ad profile for the business.

Google combines LSA and GMB reviews to generate the rating and review count that appears on the Local Services ad. The reviews that a business receives through LSA, however, do not appear on or impact the rating and review count on their GMB listing.

Here’s an example of a business that has a lot of LSA sourced reviews. Notice the rating and review count difference between their LSA profile and GMB listing:

Local Services ad:

Local Services ad rating & review count

Google My Business listing:

Google My Business rating & review count

Most businesses don’t have anywhere near this big of a gap between LSA and GMB. There are many that only have 1 or 2 reviews via LSA. Some don’t even have any LSA reviews at all. The example above is an extreme case but shows that it can vary greatly between the two properties.

For several months this Google help article has stated,

“Local Services reviews will be combined with other reviews across Google in the coming months.”

I have assumed this means that LSA reviews will eventually appear on Google My Business listings, but this hasn’t happened yet. The separation also causes a dilemma for businesses; where should they send reviewers to, LSA or GMB? By default, I would say LSA, but in Colepepper’s case, their GMB profile is the one that could use some work at this point.

Some LSA Reviews are ‘Verified Reviews’

Some reviews that show on the LSA profile for a business are labeled as “Google verified job”:

Verified review on a Google Local Services ad profile

This means that Google was able to confirm that the reviewer booked service with the business through LSA. Not all reviews from users that booked service through the LSA platform will show as a ‘Google verified job’. And since the business might send the customized LSA review link to any customer, not all LSA sourced reviews will be from people that booked service through LSA. Google states,

“Reviews for providers found and hired through Local Services include a ‘Google verified’ label. This means that the customer who wrote the review booked the job through Google. There are times when a review for a job booked through Google cannot be verified. If you see a review that should be verified, contact the support team. Local Services providers can also have reviews for other jobs (for example, when a customer is referred by a neighbor). Reviews like these don’t have a “Google verified’ label.”

There are a few ways to tell if a review is sourced from LSA, even if it does not have the “Google verified job” label:

  1. It has the reviewer’s profile name instead of “A Google reviewer”
  2. The review also has a city and/or the job performed label
  3. The review won’t also be present on their GMB listing

Both of the following reviews were submitted through LSA:

Local Services ads reviews

Note that both show city and job type. A review sourced from Google My Business will not show either of these. Not all LSA reviews show both city and job type, but as long as one of them is present, it’s an LSA review. Another giveaway that the first review was submitted through LSA is that it shows the reviewer’s profile name. More on that later.

When looking at the LSA profile for a business, verified reviews will be at the top of the list of reviews. The LSA reviews that aren’t verified will be mixed in with the GMB sourced reviews below them with the most recent showing first. And you cannot sort reviews in LSA like you can in GMB.

Reviews from ‘A Google reviewer’

When a user is writing a review in the Local Services ad platform they have the option to post publicly, which will show their Google profile name with their review, or they can choose to leave the review anonymously:

Local Services ad - anonymous review choice

It’s also important to note that Google recently decided to show all Google My Business sourced reviews on an LSA profile as being from ‘A Google reviewer’. Previously they had shown the reviewers name and profile image. So now, all reviews on an LSA profile that are from ‘A Google reviewer’ are either sourced from GMB or they’re from a user that chose to have their LSA review show anonymously. Again, look for city and/or job type to determine which ones were likely submitted through LSA.

Local Services ads – People will see Real Reviews

One of the claims on the Local Services ads homepage is:

“People will see real reviews, helping you build a great online reputation.”

The problem with that is very few reviews at this point are verified. I looked at plumbing companies in the Tampa market that are participating in LSA to see how many of their reviews are verified. When I checked there were 5 businesses participating in LSA. Their reviews combined added up to 1,230. Out of those 1,230 reviews only 7 are verified. That’s 0.6%. Now that doesn’t mean that the other 1,223 reviews are fake, but I have seen enough fake reviews on Google to be skeptical of any review.

Making the GMB sourced reviews appear anonymously obviously doesn’t make them ‘more real’, but it does make it harder to tell if you think they’re fake or not since you can’t see the reviewers profile or see what other reviews they’ve posted using that account.

The owner can’t respond to reviews on Local Services ads

One feature that is missing from Local Services ads is the ability to respond to a review. If someone leaves a business a 1-star review, the business does not have the ability to apologize or explain their side of the story. Since a consumer wouldn’t be aware of this, they might think a business is purposely not responding to reviews or doesn’t care, which doesn’t exactly help a business ‘build trust online’. And even though GMB reviews are present on LSA profiles, any owner responses that a business posted on GMB will not show with that same review on their LSA profile.

A business can reach out to the customer directly (if they know who it is) and try to resolve the issue. But doing so in the hopes of getting the reviewer to update their review brings another challenge. Updating a rating/review on LSA is a lot more involved than updating one on GMB for a user:

Edit or delete reviews

If you need to change or delete a review you submitted, contact us for help.

The consumer will have to call or email Local Services ads customer support if they want to change their review.

Good Enough For Now

The way that reviews on Local Services ads are handled has a lot of room for improvement. This is my general sentiment with a lot of LSA features and processes. But just like those other areas that could be improved, Google considers reviews to be good enough for now, and they will continue to move forward with the expansion of Local Services ads in new markets. After a little break in expansion in early 2018, expect to see Local Services ads appearing in many new markets in the coming months.

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