Google Places Drops Reviews from Other Sites
A very big announcement was made yesterday when Google announced that it no longer uses reviews from other sites on a business’ Google Places page. Google posted on their blog that “…review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages.” Read more about this change to Google Place pages. Google now only utilizes the reviews entered directly into Google (either HotPot or Google Places) to calculate the star ratings that appear in the search results.
At this time, Google is still providing links to the other review sites along with the number of reviews posted there in the search results listing as well as at the bottom of the Google Places page. Will Google eventually stop providing this information in the future? I wouldn’t be surprised if they find the links are not heavily used.
One reason that I believe Google stopped posting other sites’ reviews and using their scores in their star ratings is the varied level of quality of information. I’ve been in multiple discussions with folks from Google about the questionable quality and accuracy of some of the review information they were utilizing without any ability to attempt to score or filter it for abuse or spam. Whatever policy the review site had became a de facto policy for Google, and let’s face it, certain review sites have what many would consider questionable practices. A review site that allows a business to remove negative comments and reviews quite easily because they pay a membership fee does not promote or deliver a true picture of consumers’ feelings about the business.
When I go to a popular dealer ratings site and see a dealer listing with 170 reviews and 5 star ratings across the board, I cringe as I think most shoppers would. It just comes across as unbelievable and too good to be true. As a shopper, I would look at that and feel that it is cooked results. In order for Google to display accurate information and insure an optimum user experience, an often-stated goal of theirs, they needed to take control of this process to insure accuracy and fair representation. The only way for them to do this was to control or oversee the entire process. In the end, I think this move will be good for the user, good for Google and good for the dealer.
In my next blog post we’ll look at whether or not this means that car dealers should only focus on managing their Google Places reputation.