Google Places Now Requiring New “Places Profile” For Reviews

Several weeks ago, before, during and after the Hotspot rollout, newly created reviews from reviewers with non-public Google profiles were having their Places reviews filtered. I tested this by writing a number of reviews, over time and many places in a secondary account. All of the reviews were accepted, none were published.

Google has now implemented a new, limited review profile called a “Places Profile” that allows reviews  to be shown but requires a new, quasi private profile with at least a public nickname to proceed.

If a current Google account user without a public profile attempts to write a review on a business Place Page without this new Places profile they will see this message on the Places Page and will be unable to proceed until they visit Hotspot and enter their “nickname” (click to view larger) :


They are taken over to Hotspot and presented with this screen:


This new limited public profile is accompanied by a change in the Google Profile page that makes a clearer distinction between a public and non public profile although it makes no mention of the new limited Places Profile and offers no opportunity to create it:

Google has upgraded the HotPot Help Pages to better explain the role of the new Places Profile and notes what will occur to your existing reviews if no nickname is chosen:

Existing reviews & Places profile

You may have already written reviews or rated places on Google.

When you create a Places profile at google.com/hotpot, your new and existing reviews will be publicly attributed to the nickname that you specify.

If you don’t create a Places profile, but already have a public Google profile, your existing ratings & reviews will be attributed to your profile nickname (if available) or your first name. If you don’t have a public Google profile, your existing ratings & reviews will be attributed anonymously, e.g. to “A Google User”.

In cases where your reviews are attributed to you, your name links to an aggregate view of all your place ratings & reviews on Google.

The ratings and recomendations page in the Help files note that your new “nickname” will show to all in the following public Google  places:

Another change in Google’s review handling, is that new reviews often move to the bottom of the queue on the Places Page, not the top. How long they stay there is unclear but I presume that it is a change that is an effort to minimize the ability of a business to push a bad review off the top. It may be a matter of trust of the reviewer as well, as I have so far only noticed it on anonymous reviews.

This new, limited Places profile and its implementation unfortunately adds  a new layer of user complexity to newbie reviewers. The extra step opens a new window to create the profile. The user is presented with an unfamiliar, empty HotSpot window leaving them with no understanding why they are where they or what they need to do to get back to the Places page.

On the positive side, it will once again allow readers to see all of the reviews by a particular reviewer, returning some transparency that appeared to be lost several weeks ago during the transition period. It will force previous non-public reviewers to add a nickname if they want to add new reviews and will require a nickname for all new reviewers.

From Google’s point of view, it will force every reviewer into HotSpot and expose them to the interface and the recommendation engine. It should, over time increase viewers of it.

This new process though, by adding a layer of complexity and moving folks off of the Places Page, runs the risk of creating additional friction in the review process.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places Now Requiring New "Places Profile" For Reviews by

8 thoughts on “Google Places Now Requiring New “Places Profile” For Reviews”

  1. Am I mis-reading your comment about the ordering of reviews? It seems (based on a quick look at a few other Place Pages and the page you linked) that reviews that are not anonymous are listed by date with the most recent first.

    My experience is that each step of added complexity materially decreases the likelihood of a user completing a new task. I am not sure this is a good idea.

  2. @Ted

    Yes, the extra step will decrease the liklihood of leaving the review. Google could have just gotten a nickname in Places but instead wanted to “educate” about Hotpot and chose to add the extra step and leave the user a screen away from the review. It will be interesting to see if it “sticks”.

    My tests since the changes are that new, perhaps untrusted, reviews will go to the bottom of the list not the top. I think that over time they will surface but at least initially they are at the bottom.

    Here is a screen shot of a Places Listing for Texas Hot in Wellsville. Note the newest top most visible is dated the 20th. Here is the screen shot of the complete list and the latest, only showing at the bottom of the interior page, is at the bottom.

    This is not the only example I have seen of this over the past few weeks. Although in this case, both are mine but from different accounts. It is ironic but this comment about the new behavior just showed up on your guest post.

  3. I get the thought to fight the spam/attack reviews, but that won’t work.

    Google is only getting in the way of the casual user. Those with interests in spam or spite will always be savvier than the average use just wanting to share their experience.

  4. From where I stand, there seems to be a long-term benefit in requiring at least a nickname before posting ratings and reviews. As the Internet intersects more with the real world — as it does in Places — it’s only fair that it should also (finally) implement the non-anonimity that is how the real world works. In any case, there are plenty of people who would want to write reviews despite “complex” procedures. Wikipedia, for instance, is as complex as it gets, but there are plenty of people still writing there. And I think someone who has the discipline to complete a registration process is that much more likely to give an objective review or rating.

  5. …and with one drop of the axe, Google kills off any chance I have of getting my clients to leave a review. Whatever happened to this KISS principle?

  6. What I really do not like is that if I go into a place page and click on the starts to create a review it takes me to hotpot where they do not even have a list of the type of business I was leaving a review for. You have to re-search it once again. Very frustrating. My business is computer repair and my customers will not know much about computers let alone narrowing the treacherous landscape of Google places and now hotpot.

    The future of reviews is not certain. I wonder why they do not consider angieslist more relevant than say judysbook. Angieslist is a subscriber pay for list which reviews would have a much higher percentage rate of being real and genuine. Just a thought.

  7. Great post. We’ve been having issues lately with customers being unable to post reviews and this post clarified the issues. I’ll have to re-do the review instructions we give to customers after each service visit. I don’t see it as all bad though. While it does make it harder to convince a customer to go and leave a review, its the same for everyone. If your business is focused on customer service, many people will be compelled to go through the extra steps to rate your business and this will give you an edge over your competition.

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