Google Places Has Been Re-Vamped and 3rd Party Site Reviews are No More
The Google Places listings have had a bit of a re-jig just recently, with a general face-lift, more calls to action but also the reviews from 3rd party sites are no longer included, it now looks much cleaner, but what is the long term goal?
Google Reviews or Those from Other Sites ?
Very soon after Google started to include third party reviews from other sites it has been a somewhat contentious issue. Initially the third parties were quite glad that their reviews were being displayed on Google Places listings, as this provided them with a link and potential traffic back to their own sites, however, it soon became apparent that Google was becoming a competitor as opposed to an aggregator of data, so many sites simply blocked them from using it. There were even calls for an antitrust investigation by some of the larger players such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.
Google have now stopped displaying those third party sites data completely, is this a response to the potential antitrust investigation? Or perhaps they just used them to populate their pages to get the ball rolling, as it were. Either way, a recent statement made by Google begs the question of what is next: “Integrating some of the great information that’s been buried on Place pages into your web search experience across all Google platforms.” This, to me at least, would imply that much bigger things are on the horizon, interestingly the FTC is investigating Googles decision to raise the local listings on the search results, thereby pushing many other sites back down the rankings. If anything can be done about this remains to be seen, I know they have to be seen to play fair, but at a very basic level, it is their search engine, this is just a development of it.
So why the new look?
Well firstly Google seem to be standardising the appearance of their web applications and services, and their general approach has always been the simple look and feel, after all it’s worked pretty well with the search engine interface!
I think it’s also to do with the number of people accessing the web through iPad and smartphones these days. So many websites still don’t render properly through them that if you were to search for a local taxi firm and know that a local listing will tell you their contact number along with other important information such as operating hours, where are you more likely to click?