Google has been a very busy little bee of late, what with the launch of Google+ and changes to many of its other products. The search engine is rolling out changes left, right and centre, and it can be hard to keep up.
Some of these changes affect Google Places. The free Google map listing service has been around for a couple of years now, and in that time things have changed a lot.
Google’s Latest Places Update
In the most recent change, Google has removed the third party review snippets you used to see at the bottom of a Place page. This used to be information taken from sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp. However, these websites have been consistently unhappy that their information is being used by Google without their permission, and last month, Google finally announced that it would be removing the review snippets from its Places pages.
Now, the only reviews you’ll see on any Place page are reviews from Google users. However, you can still see links to the third party reviews below these.
Google have backed up this change with a shiny new button that sits beneath the business name and invites visitors to “Write a Review”. This not only invites you to comment on places you like (or don’t as the case may be!), but thanks to Google’s increasing focus on social sharing, you can receive personalised recommendations for places to visit, based on reviews you have left, or reviews your friends have written.
What does this mean for businesses?
It means that you’re going to have to focus that little bit more on building and managing your reputation. You should start encouraging your customers to write reviews on Google, but don’t discount the third party sites entirely. These reviews are still important to your presence in Google. Not only that, but they can also help customers find you.
It also means that you’re going to need to keep an eye on your reviews. Engage with your customers. Thank them if they leave positive reviews, and offer apologies for negative experiences. The more engagement the better.
What are your thoughts on these changes?