Linking Google Places with AdWords


Yesterday I found an article in the AdWords Help files named “Link Google Places and AdWords“. This might have been around for some time, but it’s the first time I notice it. Here is the step-by-step explanation how to do that:

1. Sign in to your AdWords account at

2. Click the Campaigns tab.

3. If you see the Ad extensions tab in the “All online campaigns” section, click on it. If you don’t see the tab, click the triangle, check the box next to “Ad extensions” and click OK. Then, click on the Ad extensions tab.

4. Click New extension.

5. In the “Select a campaign” section, choose the ad campaign you’d like to link to your Google Places account.

6. Check that the email shown in the “Add Google Places account” section is the one you’d like to link to this campaign. If it isn’t, click Use a different account.

7. If you only want to link some addresses in your Places account to be associated with this campaign, check the box next to “Filter,” then select how you’d like to define which addresses to include. You can add multiple conditions by clicking + Add another. For example, you could create filters for a specific business name in a region to only show one set of your stores.

8. Click Save.

This is extracted from the official help article. You can see screenshots there, too.

Here is how such an ad would look like:

AdWords with Google Places

So here is the question – what is the value of AdWords Express then? The two most important advantages of this tool were:

- easy management
- showing reviews inside the ad

Now with that new feature only the management ease is left as a relative advantage, but is it really? You have almost no control over your campaign with AdWords Express. Even the reporting availability is completely insufficient. Sometimes the cost per click rises with over 200-300% overnight. Now that everyone is able to show their reviews inside their AdWords ad, I think Express becomes rather useless.

At the same time this matches very well with the strategy of pushing Google reviews that the company seems to be following. The CTR would definitely increase dramatically if the ad looks like the one in the screenshot above. This will spur AdWords users to more actively try to get reviews on their Google Places listing.

All in all, a two-side benefit, from which the only loser seems to be the AdWords Express product.

  1. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek12-05-2011

    Hey Nyagoslav,

    The linking feature has been around for years. Linking GP and PPC is a little simpler to do now than it used to be, but it’s always been a pain to explain to people exactly how to do it. These are great step-by-step instructions – thanks for writing!

  2. Nyagoslav Zhekov
    Nyagoslav Zhekov12-05-2011

    Hi Phil!

    Oh, if that’s so, I believe I kinda failed. I am not using AdWords frequently, but the last time I checked I could not find such a feature. There were of course location extension and phone extension features, but nothing about connection. Seems like a missed that one.

    Arigatou gozaimasu!

  3. Gav Heppinstall
    Gav Heppinstall12-05-2011

    It was definately there about a month ago when I was playing about with adwords, however I very very rarely use adwords so I would have had no idea ofhow long its been there.
    There does seem to be a few tricks to be had in the Google Adowrds Extensions area including setting a unique logo for your business to help stand out in a crowd (only visible on maps) and not alot of businesses are utilising this feature. Ill post a screnshot on my blog shortly with what I managed to achieve soon!

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov12-05-2011

      Hey Gav,

      I still wonder how it is possible I had never seen before this help page. And also I could not find articles on how to link Google Places and AdWords. Weird. Anyway, regarding the tags that you mentioned, I had also noticed this feature, although I believe I’ve seen only a few results where custom ones are used.

      To Phil and Gav (and everyone else who would read that): note that I am handicapped as I am not able to see local ads very often. I have to use proxy, otherwise I hardly see any AdWords or AdWords Express results. Kind of sad, eh…

  4. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek12-05-2011

    Again, my two cents is that this piece is great. Anyone who didn’t know about linking knows now. Those who did know about it now have a great resource to give clients who ask “Wait, I have to link Google Places and Adwords? They’re not the same thing? Whaaa….?”

    I, for one, never noticed that traditional PPC ads do NOT have review stars and that only Express ads can – so that was news to me.

    The custom logo/icon is a cruel mistress. It’s wonderful when you can get it to work, but a couple clients of mine ran into SERIOUS roadblocks and on a couple of occasions couldn’t get it to work. I haven’t messed with the custom logo feature for the past year-and-a-half, so perhaps there are now some good troubleshooting / help articles. But I do know that one could win quite a few fans by writing a great troubleshooting piece that goes well beyond Google’s typical boilerplate “help” articles, in showing people how to get that damn custom logo to show up no matter what

    By the way, if you look on the “Maps” tab for local for searches for hotels in the US, you should find plenty of custom icons. Hilton, Sheraton, Doubletree…the big ones tend to have really nice custom logos. The hospitality industry is so cutthroat that every hotel has every last Adwords bell-and-whistle to outdo the competition and stand out.

  5. dan h
    dan h12-13-2011

    This is not working for me. My ad is still showing the + button for the map, and not the standard button with the reviews. Anyone have any ideas of what I am doing wrong? I really want to link my places account correctly so that I get the reviews to show up, but I do not want to switch over to adwords express. Thanks, Dan

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov12-13-2011

      Dan, I get different opinions on if the reviews from Google Places are showing up on the ads when you link them. However, I believe they do show, but only when you have a very big amount of reviews and the overall rating is about 5.0.

  6. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek12-13-2011

    As you guys probably know, the “magic number” you must reach in order to have your review stars show in Google Places is 5. If you have fewer than 5 Google reviews, the average won’t show. I imagine the same threshold is true of PPC.

    If you post screenshots of the Adwords UI, of how your ads appear in the wild, etc.–all the basic stuff one would want to know for purposes of troubleshooting–I’d be glad to take a quick look and weigh in.

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov12-13-2011

      I was actually trying to dig around and asked some Googlers. They said the reviews SHOULD appear, but did not provide any additional details. Mike B said he has seen reviews on AdWords ads so I assume something is stopping them sometimes… I suppose it’s either the number (unlikely because I’ve asked some guys and they said they had clients with 10s of reviews which were not showing up on the ads) or the average overall rating…

  7. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek12-13-2011

    Hey Nyagoslav,

    Yeah, the threshold for the reviews appearing on Adwords may vary. However, I know for a fact–and have for about the past 3 years–that the review stars show up in GP after 5 Google reviews have been left. I’d be interested in hearing what you conclude about the reviews as they appear in PPC.

  8. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek12-13-2011

    Hey Nyagoslav,

    Awesome case-study! It’s a *bit* unclear to me whether you’re saying the 4.5-star average rating and 6-review minimum applies strictly to Express ads, or to GP as well. If the latter is the case, take a look here:

    (If you don’t see a GP 3-pack, let me know and I can send you a screenshot.)

  9. Nyagoslav Zhekov
    Nyagoslav Zhekov12-13-2011

    Phil, I don’t think the minimum should be 6. The minimum count should be 5 and the average rating should be around 5 (I suppose).

  10. dan h
    dan h12-13-2011

    Thanks for your help. Screenshot is at: . The top is the part showing my map linked to my account related to the adwords search term, but no reviews. Bottom half shows how my places account appears in the natural search, properly with the reviews. My places account has 40 reviews. I can get this to work with adwords express properly, but I don’t like adwords express. And I am surprised google can not help me with this as I am paying them for the adwords. I guess when you are a really big business you do not care about customers.

  11. dan h
    dan h12-14-2011

    Sigh. Adding insult to injury, when I login to my google adwords campaign, it shows the express ad under a campaign. I looked at the keywords it chose, and they really are irrelevant. I tried to edit them, but nope, it said the campaign and keywords can not be modified through google ads. Oddly, clicking on the ad, to edit it in adwords, shows a ton of extra info that is not in the standard adwords, it includes the # of reviews, and the rating. However, these also cannot be edited, but it tells me to contact my google customer service representative to edit the ad.

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov12-14-2011

      Dan, thank you for the thorough information. Unfortunately, AdWords Express is very inflexible and you cannot change a lot of things, such as target keywords and bidding per keyword. Furthermore, you, practically, cannot change the landing page either (you can choose between your website as seen on Google Places and your Places listing itself).

      I am trying to get additional information from Google regarding reviews on AdWords (normal ads, not express). I will write back if I hear anything.

  12. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek12-14-2011


    I think what’s going on is Google has raised some internal flags on your reviews.

    I’m referring to a few specific potential “flags” that Google may be fixated on:

    1. All the reviews have been written in less than 3 months. 41 reviews in fewer than 90 days is FAST.

    2. Many of your clients have written you multiple reviews.

    3. All the reviews and client profiles look nearly identical. None is (to borrow a Yelp term) a “power” reviews with a ton of reviews of other businesses; indeed, nor has any of them reviewed another business at all. Moreover, all the usernames are a single, simple, lower-case first name. Even the language of all the reviews sounds the same; they use the same phrases to describe you, and everyone has relatively good grammar and spelling.

    4. They’re all 5 stars. There wasn’t even one client who woke up on the wrong side of the bed and gave you a 4-star. That’s too uniform.

    Those are the main issues. I’m sure all your reviews are legit and from real clients, but Google may not see it that way, and seems to have flagged your reviews internally. That’s my best educated guess as to why your reviews aren’t coming through in Adwords Express.

  13. Richard Smith
    Richard Smith01-03-2012

    I too have been unable to get my reviews listed with my adwords campaign. Seeing the possibilities with this in relation to ctr I started an adwords express campaign. Problem is that my adwords express campaign shows 5 or 6 compared to my adwords showing up 1 or2 for the same monthly budget. Getting this to work for me would be a gold mine in clicks. Any updates on why it is not working for some people?

  14. David Kyle
    David Kyle01-06-2012

    the example screenshot given in this article is an Adwords Express ad, not regular Adwords.

    It seems they are just now starting to try to connect reviews with the Adwords location extension. It’s not working yet because all location extensions are showing zero reviews, even when reviews are there.

    up unti now, reviews on the ads have only been a feature of Adwords Express.

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov01-06-2012

      David, thank you for stopping by.

      I should probably update the article, as I already got the answer to this question in the AdWords Help Forum here.

      The mistake came from the fact that this image was on the official help article. To confirm it, I asked a few Google representatives if reviews should really show up on a normal AdWords ad when it is linked with the corresponding Google Places business listing and I received positive replies.

      However, it seems that this is in fact already happening?

  15. David Kyle
    David Kyle01-06-2012

    seems like they trying to roll it out now, but they are all showing zero reviews for listings that indeed have reviews.

    i’ve been battling this issue for months now. I had a client show me an example of a competitor with reviews in his ad. I confirmed that it was actually a Boost ad. He asked me why we weren’t using Boost. I explained as you correctly pointed out, there is no control no Boost. No ad scheduling, no negative keywords, etc, and for his vertical that would mean lots of wasted clicks.

    He didn’t seem to care. He wanted those reviews. I finally talked him out of it by conferencing him in on a call to my agency rep at Google. She explained that it would indeed be a step down from his regular Adwords account.

    A month later, Boost was changed to Adwords Express (i like to think I had a small part in that :) )

    He contacted me again early Dec, wanting to know if we could run Adwords and Adwords Express together. I said I wasn’t sure, and contacted my rep. I was told that a read only campaign would be created in his existing Adwords account, but that it shouldn’t be done because he was already running Adwords. I explained again why my client was wanting to do this. I asked why were reviews not included in the location extension. She said she didn’t know.
    I stated that it made no sense that there were features in Adwords Express, which i equate to a dumbed down version of Adwords, that regular Adwords did not have. It shouldn’t be hard because the data is in the Places account, linked to the Adwords account. She agreed, and said she would pass the suggestion along to the appropriate people.

    It appears now they are finally trying to roll this out, but again.. it appears it isn’t fully working yet.

    It now looks like

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov01-06-2012

      Wow, that’s a really cool story. However, I must say that in certain situations and verticals this sole advantage of Express – the reviews, might play such a significant role that it would still make sense to use it as an advertising tool. Although it [censored] big time. I’m not sure if that was the case in your example though. But as you pointed out it doesn’t really make sense to omit a particular feature like this one. And yet, as I mentioned in the article – what would then be the value of Express if even it’s biggest (and maybe only…) advantage goes down?

  16. David Kyle
    David Kyle01-06-2012

    You’re right. And that’s what the client thought. But at $30-$40 a click to show in top 3, not having control was just not an option.

    It looks like the data is now slowly starting to populate correctly. I am now seeing regular Adwords ads showing proper review counts/stars.

    I honestly don’t think that it was originally intended to be an “advantage” over regular Adwords. It was just an oversight that has now been corrected.

    Boost/Adwords express was designed to reach out to business owners that did not have the time/budget to use regular Adwords, and pay for someone to manage it.

    A few years ago, they created the Adwords Reseller program which companies like Yodle and Reach Local were part of. These companies performed terribly (huge churn rates) and used unethical sales tactics (i.e. claiming to be Google when they called a prospect). Google suspended that program because of it.

    Google found that these 3rd party companies were damaging the reputation of Google Adwords. The average small business owner believed that it was Google Adwords that did not work, not that it was the fault of the poor performing 3rd parties who were spending 25% or less of the money they were charging on actual ad spend.

    Boost/Adwords Express was the solution to directly connect with these disenfranchised small business owners, and show them what happens when 100% of the money they spent actually went towards ad spend.

    Adwords is still the best option, but again, not everyone can afford to pay someone to set it up and manage it correctly. Therefore Adwords Express is the next best thing.

  1. Linking Google Places with AdWords | Local SEO, Local SEM and Google Places Information | Scoop.it12-05-11
  2. Google Places Reviews Finally Showing up on AdWords Ads? | OptiLocal01-09-12

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