Google Places: Updates To The Look But Not The Algorithm

Google recently revamped the layout and look of their Places pages. They made a number of changes including removal of the review snippets from 3rd party sites, an aesthetic redesign for a cleaner look, more prominent call to action buttons, and removal of “More About This Place” results which gave insight into citations Google found for a Places page.

What the leading experts in the local space have stressed is that you should not confuse the updated look to mean there is a new algorithm.

Let’s take a closer look at the various changes.

Cleaner Look & Streamlined Information

Google updated the look of the Places page to make it more streamlined and clean. The reviews and the call to action for users to leave a review have been made more prominent.

Citations: Places pages used to have a section called “More About This Place” which showed other web pages that referenced the business. These citations essentially serve a similar purpose for local visibility as links do for traditional SEO. The disappearance of these citations from the page does NOT mean that they don’t remain an important part of your local strategy. It simply means that mining a competitors Places page for citation sources is no longer a viable strategy.

Review snippets: There was quite a bit of push back from other review aggregators (such as Yelp, CItysearch, and Tripadvisor) when Google started to show snippets of those third-party reviews on Google’s Places page. There is even an ongoing antitrust investigation part of which involves this specific issue. Google has decided to pull the snippets of reviews from 3rd party review sites. Instead there are links at the bottom of the Places page pointing directly to the review sites.

places-layout-change.png

Best Practices For Local Search Still Remain

What is important to note is that even with all the interface changes, the best practices for local search still remain. Citations are still important as are getting reviews on a variety of 3rd party websites. The absence of these from the redesigned Places page does NOT mean that they are no longer a component of the local algorithm.