Google Places Updates – SEO Monday

By Joe


How do the recent changes in Google Places impact your local SEO strategies and facilitate customer interactions, such as collecting reviews and feedback? This presentation will outline how some key updates to Google Places impacts your online marketing.

The most noticeable change is the layout of a business’s Google Places page. Google has removed some of its old features and moved around others, making reviews more noticeable and also adding stronger call to actions to submit reviews and upload photos as shown on the screen. These changes will hopefully help encourage more reviews from Places users, which can help support stronger visibility in Google Maps and local searches for a business.

In addition to the cosmetic changes made, one of the biggest changes announced was that Google would no longer be aggregating data from other local sites like Yelp and CitySearch. Google claims its reason for dropping these other sites’ ratings was “based on careful thought about the future direction and feedback they’ve heard” although many others believe the actual reason is due to rumors of a possible FTC investigation into the aggregation of this data.

In terms of SEO importance, this means businesses will want to encourage actual Google reviews even more now since reviews are a ranking factor in Google Places and the other reviews are no longer pulled in. If you have a local business, try to encourage customers, especially those who have gmail accounts, to write reviews and post pictures of your business. One way to effectively do this would be if you had an email list you could segment out those customers with gmail accounts and send out an email to them asking for a review. Be careful when offering incentives however, as there is a very fine line between asking for reviews and “buying” reviews which Google may punish if they were to ever find out from a competitor or disgruntled customer sending the email to them.