Google has recently made a significant change to its "places" review layout. Google is no longer displaying a mix of reviews from Google Maps users and reviews from other 3rd party online directories. Now, they are grouping all reviews from 3rd party online directories in a section called “Reviews from around the web” with just one review listed on each directory and a link to visit the directory to view more reviews about that particular business. Just below that, visitors can see reviews left specifically on Google Maps. This is a very significant change, which can affect both the consumer visiting the place page and the business owner who owns that page.
For consumers, it’s helpful because they are now showing the overall rating and number of reviews coming from, for example, Yelp, which was not included previously. It’s the assumption that with this new agreement, they can still show some consumer value with aggregating reviews, but also keep the original 3rd party online directory website happy by driving traffic to their sites rather than just showing all the review content right on Google Maps. As Tech Crunch points out “It seems that with Google has come to some sort of licensing agreement (not sure if it is a financial agreement) with Yelp, and other reviews sites to post these reviews on Places with a link back to the actual content. Another observation—the “reviews from around the web” section is listed above the “reviews from Google Users section.” After chatmeter looked further into how these reviews are generated we came across some interesting aspects; The first aspect is the order of the 3rd party review sites. It appears that it is based on the total quantity of reviews from that site. This means that the 3rd party directory site with the most reviews on your business will show up first in Google Maps listing of “Reviews from other Sites”, so it’s important to monitor which exact review Google is showing at the top of your review section. This information can be helpful to many Small Business Owners who manage their online reputation. Say, for example, you know that you have numerous positive reviews on Yelp. You can now drive more of your happy customers to Yelp, maybe by providing them incentives, for them to leave a positive comment. Of course this benefits your business but it will also ensure that Yelp stays atop the list of “Reviews from other Sites” within Google Maps. The second aspect we discovered from the new layout is that the reviews they post from the 3rd party sites are not necessarily the latest review, but rather, the last time they scraped information from that particular directory site. So rather than showing the most recent and relevant review, Google Maps, may be showing potential customers a review from months ago. This can hurt your business if that is a negative review. The business owner has no control over this or when the data is added. All we can recommend is that you try to make sure you get more positive reviews on that site from your customers to prepare for the next time Google crawl’s that site.
Another benefit we discovered from this latest layout design from Google “Places”, its that is makes it easier for you to look at your competitors and see all the sites they are getting customer reviews on. Then, you can see if those are good traffic sites for your industry and direct your satisfied customers to leave reviews on those sites as well to drive new business to your door!
Online reviews are more important than ever in the local search world and with customers making decisions on their mobile phone, they’re usually just looking at your latest 1 or 2 reviews, so you have to be on top of your game. You need a reputation monitoring service like chatmeter so you can instantly identify reviews and if you get a bad one, try to resolve it right away. This can save your business from significant losses. We strongly believe that it is more important than ever to monitor your small businesses online reputation, have the ability to take control of the conversation and evaluate what is being said about your business online.
**Google recently posted an informative article and video on their blog which relates to the new Places design layout. This article provides useful recommendations and tips on how to strengthen local business rankings. With the recent changes in Google Places, understanding the importance of creating online awareness for potential and current customers is very essential. How Local Search Ranking Works provides SMB owners online advertising solutions for local businesses.