Google recently announced it’s in the process of making updates to Place pages, simplifying the look and feel of the pages and changing some of the features.
On the reputation monitoring and business reviews front, with this change, Google has stopped pulling in third-party reviews as they once did. What that means is, the star-rating and number of reviews for a business Place page – which also shows up in a business’s listing on the Search Engine Results Page(SERP) – will now only reflect reviews submitted by Google users. Reviews from other sites like Yelp, Citysearch, and other popular review sites will no longer be aggregated on the Place page itself.
Third-Party Review Sites & Google
But, third-party review sites are still important. For one, your Place page may link to reviews on third-party sites like Yelp or the Cast page. It is just not pulling those reviews into the page itself anymore. More importantly, individual third-party sites may still rank very high in a search for your “business name + reviews” keyword. Plus, the business information on the search engine results page can still link to third party review sites and display the individual number of reviews on those specific sites, as shown below:
The Importance of Native Google Reviews
With the new design, Place pages are now emphasizing to users the call to action of leaving a review. A big red button at the top of the page now urges users to “Write a review.” In fact, this is one of the core features of the new page design. This change means that now more than ever, it’s important to claim and optimize your business Google Place page, ensure consistency across local listings, and request happy customers to leave reviews specifically on your Google Place page.
Benefits of the Change
It’s important to note that this may actually be a great opportunity for some businesses whose competitors had a large number of reviews aggregated through Google Places, potentially leveling the playing field on Google reviews. Now, the Google star rating and aggregated SERPs number of those competitor reviews may be drastically lower if a majority of their reviews are on third-party sites, giving you an opportunity to focus on requesting reviews so you can boost your business image online and outpace competitors in this arena.
The Bottom Line: Your Online Reputation Strategy
Overall, these changes emphasize the importance of including Google in your reputation and reviews strategy. However, it’s still important to have a comprehensive reputation management strategy that focuses on search engines, social media channels, and third-party directory and review sites. For local search engine optimization and reputation management, the overall strategy for reviews doesn’t change based on these updates. It’s still critical to monitor your reputation across the web, acquire lots of reviews on various sites, and engage in reputation management.
A Note for ReachCast Users
The ReachCast platform uses rich snippets technology to signal to Google that reviews left on Cast pages are user reviews. Rich snippets technology is still an important tool, and Google is still linking to external reviews sites on Place pages and in SERPs and as seen below:
Are you monitoring your online reputation? Do you request reviews from happy customers? What do you think about these update? Share your thoughts in a comment.
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