Last fall Google announced Google Place Pages , Google’s attempt to create a Web page for every place in the world. More importantly, though, it was Google’s attempt to create a page for your business, one that pulled in a variety of different information about you. While there was both good and bad  associated with this, one thing many SMB owners were concerned about was their lack of ability to control a page that was aggregating information about them, especially the reviews.
Well, as of yesterday, at least some of that fear has been addressed. Google announced that small business owners can now respond to reviews left on their Google Place Page . Rejoice.
According to the Goog:
Starting today, if you’re a verified Google Places business owner, you can publicly respond to reviews written by Google Maps users on the Place Page for your business. Engaging with the people who have shared their thoughts about your business is a great way to get to know your customers and find out more. Both positive and negative feedback can be good for your business and help it grow (even though it’s sometimes hard to hear). By responding, you can build stronger relationships with existing and prospective customers.
Here’s a glimpse of the responses in action:
I thought it was pretty smart that Google is encouraging small business owners to respond to both negative and positive feedback left on their page. Just because someone has a good experience doesn’t mean you can’t bolster it even further by showing them that you’re listening and appreciate them sharing their thoughts. You may even inspire others to stop in and leave similar feedback if they see they’ll get a response from you.
Obviously, most business owners will be more focused on the negative comments, as those are the ones that may deter people from coming in or doing business with them. It’s important to address negative reviews, try to make amends and invite people back in. Google has provided instructions on how to physically respond to reviews , as well as some tips on how to address them . We’ve also previously written about when to respond to negative reviews  and how to manage reviews  to give you some more information.
This is going to be a very welcome new feature for small business owners. Having the ability to respond to negative reviews will help small business manage their online reputations and connect with users in a better way. As always, in order to play, you must first claim your listing . If you haven’t, do it.