As I am sure you will have seen by now, the design and layout of Google Places has recently changed.
The new design appears to hint that more weight is now being put on reviews over any other element.
The new big red box at the top of a Google Places page invites you to leave a review when before this wasn’t something so obviously promoted.
But what is interesting is the fact that only reviews left by Google account holders appear to be carrying strength. Or at least this is how it appears. So does this mean that 3rd party reviews no longer count or are being counted?
Well they are still being reported on and links to these 3rd party sites appear in a much less promoted manner under the heading “Reviews from around the web”. So they are still being associated with your profile and the number of reviews found on each site is highlighted in brackets.
So what about citations? Google Places appear to have totally abandoned the “More about this page” information that used to be in place. Is this a further indication that its now all about reviews?
Personally I don’t think so. Citations come from a number of areas and for these to be suddenly abandoned is out of the question. Citations also come from so many strong and trusted sites that I personally believe that despite this information no longer being displayed they still hold a strong importance.
But we can’t ignore the fact that Google are now indicating that they want reviews and lots of them.
So bring on the age old issue: “How can you get your customers to review your company?”.
This has been a problem for so many companies and its not always easy. And with Google now only displaying reviews from Google account holders, this potentially makes even harder.
All may not be lost and this new design may have actually made things easier. You can now send your customers a link directly to your Google Places page.
In the past you have always been able to grab a link but it was then up to you to copy this into an email or where ever you wished to use it.
The new process actually sends an email directly from your Google Places page which should open up more possibilities if you use it to your advantage.
Here’s an example. If you are a Hotel you more than likely will have taken your customers email address during the check in process.So why not email them after their stay from your Google Places page inviting them to review your Hotel.
Sending them a direct link in this way will improve the chances of them actually acting on this rather than leaving it to chance that they may go looking for your page.
Try it. Reviews are clearly important. Now more than ever.