Google Places has been making some changes. The complexion of the site has been altered, impacting what people see when they do a local search. The most obvious change is that the number of reviews for the average Google Places business listing has dropped significantly. Why? Because business reviews from third-party sources are no longer included in the results.
Reviews from sites like Yelp, Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor have been dropped from Google Places listings. When people pull up your business through Google Places, they now only see those reviews from Google users who have logged in prior to commenting. Does this mean other reviews won’t matter to people? No, but the initial listing of reviews is more focused now, and users will have to really look for anything beyond Google user reviews. For example, rather than saying you have 100 reviews, Google Places now lists 5, but still includes group links to third-party sites for the other 95 reviews.
Google Places has also changed up its look. There is now a button at the top of the page for Google users to conveniently leave a review, but you do need to be logged in to do so. Another visual change is a closer brand likeness and similar color scheme to that of the new social network Google+.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that if you own a business, you can still claim your free listing on Google Places. You can still verify your information and add images so people can learn more about your company and services. You can still fill out business locations, hours and contact info in a clear and accurate way that helps people find your business easier when they do a local search. If you haven’t done it yet, this might be a good time to try it. We covered a few of the basics for implementing a successful Google Places listing in a previous blog post to help you along!