Lessons Learned After 200 Google Places Reviews

As of tonight, I’ve contributed 200 review on Google Places. After writing so many, I’ve picked up a few notes about how to write a useful review for Google Places.

Tips for writing reviews:

  • Don’t bother with the other reviews. If you’re echoing the sentiments of someone else, then you’re reinforcing something about that place. For instance, check out my review of High Dive on 5th Avenue in Park Slope:

    The drinks are cheap, the bartenders are friendly and the atmosphere is always great. Great jukebox, but I suggest letting the bartenders play their iPods. Free wifi and popcorn, and happy hour has a $2 brew if you’re into drinking on the cheap. No TVs, a back patio when the weather is warm and non-gender specific bathrooms (line goes faster). If you’re into playing 20th anniversary Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga, they have a cocktail machine in the back that has been kept in great condition. I suggest grabbing a beer, heading for the Ms. PacMan and forgetting your worries.

    If you didn’t want to repeat anything I’ve already said, there’d hardly be anything left to say about High Dive.

  • What’s the place known for? If you’re a regular, you know what’s what. Show your experience.
  • What stands out? When you’ve been there, what did you find to be the best part? It may now be what it’s known for, but it’s still what you found fun. For instance, did the bathrooms have chalk on the sink and blackboard paint on the walls?
  • Something personal. I absolutely love Ms. PacMan/Galaga 20th Anniversary machines, especially the cocktail versions. Anyplace that has one of those machines, you’ll probably find me mentioning it.
  • Don’t bury the lede. Not much of your review shows up when people first see it. Provide your review is useful by putting the most useful information up front.

Things to avoid:

  • Long personal stories. Yelp is for questionably clever stories. Google Places is for helpful reviews.
  • Calling out staff members by name. Unless you plan on updating your review regularly, most bars, restaurants and stores have a high turnover rate when it comes to the staff. The George who upset you today may not be the same George who will work there in three years.
  • Long winded reviews. Most people will be seeing this on their phones while they decide where to go. They don’t have time for your long drawn review.

Connect with me on Google Places! I’m always interested in seeing what other people are writing and I use Google Places when I travel to gauge what’s good in town.

Much of my effort has been boosted by the Google NYC Community team of Margarita Vaisman and Esther Brown. They deserve a round of applause for their excellent work in motivating the NYC community (and me) into writing reviews. Many of my hints (but not all) have come from hearing them give their pitches.