Google Places Reviews – An Important ChangeAuthor: Jamie | Filed under: Local Search
Google recently announced that Places listings will no longer feature reviews from third party sites like Yell and TripAdvisor. Why is this change being made and how will it affect you?
Why the change?
The change is most likely due to various complaints and possible legal challenges to Google in both the US and Europe concerning its publication of content from third party websites.
Put simply, sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Citysearch weren’t happy that Google was pulling in their content to populate Places listings – thereby removing the need to actually visit the site, potentially causing lost business.
The official line from Google is altogether more positive of course. In the statement announcing the change, Avni Shah, director of product management at Google, had this to say:
“Based on careful thought about the future course of Places pages, and response we have heard over the past few months, review snippets from other Web sources have now been removed from Places pages.”
This is equally plausible. After all, Google has been consistently developing an all-inclusive Google universe from which one need never leave. Although there will still be links to the third party sites in a nod to transparency, it doesn’t serve Google for you to leave their product (and their advertising).
What does it mean for you?
Obviously it depends how much stock you put in your Google Places listing. If you get a significant proportion of your business from local search it means now would be a good time to put some effort into attracting a few reviews on Google itself.
If you’ve collected a number of good reviews on third party sites, you will lose the advantage on-page until you can replace them with Google hosted reviews.
Third party reviews have also been touted as a good way of achieving higher rankings in local searches, and there is every chance that with their removal from the listing itself, this could change. It’s safe to say that accumulating Google reviews is likely to be the only sure-fire way of increasing your ranking at some point in the future.
As a user it just means you might have to work a little bit harder to find out how good a place is or not. Unless that business has attracted plenty of Google reviewers, you’ll have a few clicks before you get to find out if a place is worth visiting or not.
Will your business be affected by this decision? Please leave any comments, thoughts or questions below.
Image Credit: pontuse