Google has been working on the look of all its services- Gmail, Maps and everything. The purpose is to integrate the look of all products with with Google+. Now, it's Google Places that has been revamped by Google. The new look is crisper, and the off site reviews have been removed.
The New Look:
The new Google Places has a clean and crisp interface. It is easier for people to spot what they are looking for. It is uncluttered than the previous places page, visually bolder and easier to read.
The 'Call For Action' Buttons have been placed prominently on the page, so as to encourage users to come forward and share their views. These are:
- Write A Review- There is hard to miss 'Write a review' buttons on the page. There are two of these buttons, at the top of the page and under the photos. The buttons are highlighted in bold red colours, so it is unlikely that you will miss it. They invite users to write a review about the place.
- Rate With Stars- There is a set of 5 stars with the words 'your rating'. It is pretty obvious that in case the user is happy by just rating the place, then they can just leave a number of stars
- Upload A Photo- Another new button on the page allows the users to upload a photo of the place in question. As of now, there is not any definitive information if this will generate lots of new images on these pages. People would upload from their mobiles, but that functionality doesn’t appear to be present yet.
This design is very mobile friendly with their easier to spot and use the buttons for important actions. So, good news for tablet and smartphone users!
The External Reviews Are Gone -
This change is in the Places page is glaring. There are no more review snippets from 3rd party review websites. Instead there are snippets only from reviews added directly on a business’s Google Places page. So what you see prominently is user reviews. In the earlier Places page, snippets from review websites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor were shown. But now there are just links to review sites . And that too at the bottom of the page.
It is known fact that the search engine giant was criticized for using outside reviews. A previous design and functionality changes in Places led to many companies backing off, as they saw Google as a competitor. This led to several sites blocking Google from streaming their data. The sites wanted Google to stop using their data for a competing service. Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, were among those who were demanding antitrust investigation against Google.
So, it seems like Google has removed the outside reviews as a response to the antitrust concerns. However, Google says that it plans more changes in Places and also integrate some of the information from Place pages in the web search results. Also the focus will be more on local places for every user's search.
Citations/ Reference Sections Are Gone:
The older Places page showed a citations/references section- This section would display a selection of other web pages that referenced the business. These Citations/references were earlier considered the equivalent of ‘links’ in organic SEO.
What This Means For Businesses-
With the 3rd party reviews pushed back- as a business owner, you must work on making users write reviews for you. Secondly, at present the Places page is not displaying all this information about your business- Email address- Menu- Reservations- Optional attributes / Additional details- Service area. This was questioned by owners, and this is how Vanessa from Google explained it, “So just because we're not showing it, doesn't mean it's not helpful for us to have – it helps our system ensure that your organic listing appears and ranks appropriately on Google and Google Maps when potential customers perform searches related to your service”.
So, the bottom line is that you must ensure better feedback from your customers, as a business owner.
The reason why Google is working on all its projects is to achieve brand unity. It wants to link every project to the basis of Google as an entity. This integration works in the favour of Google+ and other projects in the pipeline. Google is working on more changes and we can expect them shortly.