As review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and others, supplemented by the more specifically-targeted sites like the bed and breakfast directory reviews, become so very important to small lodging properties, Google did not miss out, and began adding reviews from many of these sites on their “Place Page” (formerly Local Business Center) for the business reviewed.

Google’s next step was to add the ability to review a property directly on the Place Page. This was a nice feature for reviewers, but a nightmare for businesses.

Not only was the review anonymous, and entirely without any accountability, but the property owner could not respond to the review – even in cases of alleged fraud.Owner response to review

Today Google announced a very welcome change to that practice, allowing verified business owners to post a reply.

Google does suggest that you “be nice” in your reply, and provides some brief guidelines for responses, that would be well to be kept in mind in responding to any review.

This should provide an even greater incentive for businesses to claim their Place Page to become a verified owner, and monitor it regularly, now that verified owners can respond to Google reviews.