Here We Go(ogle) Again!

Google Place PageIt seems the spring cleaning bug has hit Google hard. In the wake of all the buzz around Google +, the company quietly streamlined their Google Place Pages.

Place pages used to pull reviews from other sites like CitySearch and Yelp. Not anymore. Place Pages now only display content from other Google users. They have larger call to action buttons higher on the page. So if you want to review a place or upload photos from a recent visit, it is now easier to do so. Google is also working to unify their platform across different mediums, so your Google experience looks the same on your phone as it does on your computer. Avni Shah, Director of Product Management for Google, blogged that Google is “Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places — because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful.”

While reviews, whether good or bad, help boost your Place page ranking, any small business owner in the service industry will tell you that one bad review can be detrimental. Will a review from a Google user carry more weight as far as SEO is concerned? Not likely. What this change will do, however, is knock your total review counts way down.

There will still be links to your company’s reviews on other sites like Yelp, but it will require that the user actually click through to those pages. What can you do to counteract this drop in rating counts?

Ask your customers for a review! If they’ve had a positive experience, encourage them to leave a review (via their Google account) on your Place page. It may even be worth it to offer an incentive for them to leave a review. Perhaps a discount on their next purchase?

The aim of Google + is to provide a better social experience. Combine that with the easy integration with all the other Google products and services, and you’ve got one gargantuan hub where absolutely any and everything is at a user’s fingertips.

Are you optimizing your Google Place Page to reflect these new changes?

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