Today's worldwide rollout of the Google Places for Business Dashboard Review widget is one of the most significant upgrades to the business center ever.
The widget provides a business owner the ability to see and respond to Google reviews, as well as to monitor almost all of their reviews from around the web. It offers SMBs a functionality that has long been needed, and is one that will give every SMB concerned with reviews a reason to regularly visit their dashboard.
The widget has two main components: a Review Inbox and Review Analytics.
Review Inbox Features
- Read your complete Google review corpus
- Ability to respond to reviews from within the dashboard (requires a social upgrade)
- Owner Review responses will now show on the front page of Google results in the review panel
- Ability to quickly view the profile of the Google reviewer
- A list of every review, in snippet form, that Google has indexed from around the web (with the exception of Yelp)
- A link to the review page where the original review is
- Selectable by last week, last month, last six months, last year and all time
- Displays volume of reviews at Google and elsewhere
- Review score distribution
The new Places for Business Dashboard rolled out in April of this year. Even though it was a much needed upgraded, the feature set was limited. However, the architecture promised an ability to relatively easily expand features. At the rollout Google included added Offers and Adwords. Since then, many of the upgrades to the Dashboard have been focused on adding basic features, international rollouts, cleaning up obvious loose ends, more complete integration with the G+ backend AND a consolidated claiming process that is essentially now the same between + and Places.
The Review Widget is not only the first major upgrade to the new dashboard (that offered little in the way of features), but more importantly it is also a signal that Google is working to provide the SMB with valuable tools to manage their business. While the product doesn't yet have mobile or enterprise-level capabilities, it offers up much needed functionality that will give Google an immediate leg up in their effort to attract more SMBs to the dashboard. It is the type of tool that will make the Dashboard a regular stop for business owners.
Here are the updated Google Places Help Files covering this product: