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Google Drops Another Local “Places Page” Bombshell – REVIEWS

July 22, 2011

Google just announced new changes to their Places Pages in the way they display reviews. Popular review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and our favorite Customer Lobby have been demoted to a link in the footer of the Places Page and on the local results listing. The bottom line is that in the Google search results (the LOCAL and MAP results) the reviews will only count Google reviews for their star ratings and mostly likely for their local rankings. They have added the call-to-action “Write a Review” button to the top of the Place Page to encourage you to tell them what you think about places you’ve visited. They are also working hard to give you personalized recommendations in return when you’re signed in to your Google account. Google wants you to be able to quickly get a sense for what other people are saying about a place, more easily upload photos (another change just announced) of places you’ve been with a new button and see reviews in a single section on the page. They have dropped the old Hotpot name for their review community and integrated it right into the Places Page.

Here is an example of how the Google Local Search changes are working:

The new local search result for an auto repair company.  
new google local search result
  This company actually has 25 reviews in Customer Lobby which will eventually be picked up in the link at the bottom of their listing above. customer lobby example reviews On the actual Places Page, these third party reviews have moved to the footer at the bottom of the page. third party reviews at bottom of google places page

Our Recommended Immediate Actions to Business Owners Are:

  • Keep working to get Google reviews. Make it easy for your customers to go to your Places Page and write a review. Beg them, entice them, but by all means ASK, it’s critical to your business marketing in the future
  • Keep using Customer Lobby, Yelp, or other review systems. There is a competitive war going on for these reviews and we don’t know how it’s going to end up. We DO KNOW that reviews are empowering local businesses to be found more easily and customers are making choices based on reviews.
    • Don’t forget the key advantage of review systems like Customer Lobby. You control the reviews, you can fully integrate them as you see fit into your website, landing pages, and offline marketing materials. Some independence from Google is a must!
    • Put a link in your Places Page description to your Customer Lobby (or other) review page on your website. Make it easy to help potential customers see those reviews you better control.
    • Keep working your Places Page and Local Search Optimization. We a working this hard for several clients with good results. Google is constantly changing this, it’s no longer a one shot update and be finished. Here’s an example of that:
      • We hear that the next step is Google + Business Profiles, coming in 2-3 months according to Vic Gundotra of Google. It’s an effort to make Google Places look more like Facebook Pages/Places. We expect that reviews will be a part of this and that all review providers, including Customer Lobby and others, will be able to integrate into Places this way, yet another change.

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