There have been some significant changes with Google Places listings (Google Maps) the past few weeks that you should be aware of if local search results are important to you.
Google Not Showing Some Descriptive Info Owners Input in Listings
If you haven’t noticed, Google Places listings have suddenly gotten a makeover to a much simpler, much sparser layout such as below
Notice what’s missing? As Google explains in it’s user forum, “The following info you provide may not appear on your Place page” including…
[some industry specific details]
In one of Google’s forums it was mentioned that the additional details are no longer displayed because of spamming. Google goes on to explain “just because we’re not showing it, doesn’t mean it’s not helpful for us to have… it’s all still used to help us understand more about your business” We take that to mean that the additional info we develop and add to a listing still helps rankings. However we and many are complaining to Google that this additional information we develop is added to the listing to provide useful information to prospective customers who view the listing pages. Without these additional details the only owner provided content is a 200 character description along with photos and videos. We can only hope that Google will rethink this.
Review Snippets From Other Web Sources Have Been Removed
In the past Google would display snippets of reviews from sources such as Yelp, Superpages, etc. No more. As Google explains “…based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we’ve heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages”
The scuttlebutt is that Google did this to head off an FTC investigation from complaints from those 3rd party review sites that Google shouldn’t be allowed to display them in their listings.
In any case, now only snippets from reviews that were input in Google Paces by other Google Account holders will be displayed on a listing. Although there may be links in the Reviews section that allow a viewer to click to see reviews from other sources.
This means it has gotten more important to make sure that you get at least some good reviews input directly into your Google Place listings so that snippets from those reviews will appear in your listing. However it remains helpful to get good reviews in any of the important Citation sites for your market (see more in the next section about Citations sites). Good reviews should help entice those who read the reviews to consider doing business with you. In addition, we believe Google will continue to read these reviews which may help rankings for your Google Paces listings too.
Citation Sites No Longer Displayed
Google used to display a number of web pages in a section named “More about this place”. These were some of the Citation sites that mentioned and often linked to the organization described in the listing. We’re not sure why Google decided to remove this section. Perhaps they thought it made it too easy for marketers to see what citation sites might be affecting their listing leading to spamming attempts. We did in fact look at these sites to see which sites were important to update or submit to. However we have more comprehensive methods to discover the important citation sites for a market within a territory.