We’ve spoken before about the importance of setting up a Google Local account and having an SEO-friendly Google Places presence. We’re guessing in tandem with Google+ and all of the changes we’ve seen on Google platforms lately, on July 21, Google Places announced a rather big change to their rating and review platform.
Like any other review website, Google Places allows users to comment, rate and share information about restaurants and businesses alike. Google reviews were used, occasionally, but not nearly as frequently as some of its counterparts (for reviews). However, the use of all third-party websites has been removed completely from the site. This means that Yelp, TripAdvisor and any other third-party site that you may have relied on for their positive reviews in the past are no longer viewable on place pages. Instead, links to these review sites will be placed at the bottom of the page, and will more often than not be looked over entirely.
This is where the next change plays an important role.
Since Google Places has removed all third-party websites, they have also added a big, red “Write a Review” button to the top of every place page. This addition encourages users to share their thoughts, and has made it insanely easy to do. Many businesses are unaware that their place page even exists, and often only oversees Yelp and location-based application reviews. For small business owners, this means that it’s more crucial than ever to actively monitor your Google Place page, especially in the appearance of a bad review. We help clients with this all the time and have seen a significant shift in the past week to more reviews on Google Places.
What does this mean for the other review websites out there? We can only hope that Google avoids the monopolization of the rating & review scene, but with the recent launch of Google +, we are very aware of their compelling nature.