1. August 2011 13:34
Google is committed to local search and routinely changed the way local search works in an effort to improve the relevance of the results. The latest change in July 2011 has significant impacts on how the places page works and merits a closer look.
3rd Party Reviews Not Counted in the Search Results Page
Google is shifting away from 3rd party reviews in favor of Google reviews. This will have a major affect on some businesses whose reviews from TripAdvisor or DemandForce will not be prominent.
Say Hello and Goodbye to HotPot
Google's local rating and review feature introduced last fall is now the primary source for rating information on Google Places. To make it easy for users to write a review Google has added a "Write a Review" button to the top of the Places Result page itself. So HotPot is now more fully integrated into Google Places
Citations Have Very Little Emphasis on Search Results
The mantra for the past several years is to ensure that your site has plenty of citations to improve page ranking. A citation is the appearance of your business in another web site in particular with location details that may or may not link back to your web site. The Jully 25, 2011 update places very little emphasis on citations to determine page rank. In addition, the value of reviews from sites such as Yelp, Dex and CitySearch was reduced.
It's easier to Add Pictures to Google Places
Along with the integration of reviews users can quickly add a photo to the Places page using the "Upload a photo" button to the right of the review button.
Will the Google Place Changes Affect Your Ranking
Some users say they have seen their ranking drop. In general the sense is to wait until the release stabalizes over the next few weeks.