Perhaps a small change but in light of the many quirks of late, it could also indicate more changes to come. It seems that Places search results showing in the main search results are now only showing the review count for Google only reviews. Third party reviews, while still linked are not being counted in the review totals.
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Google Places Search No Longer Showing 3rd Party Review Counts?
by Mike Blumenthal
Most of those Dentists are DemandForce Dentists and many have over 200 reviews. Now most show 0 – 5.
I bet Dentists that use DF are freaking right now. Going to call the top person at DF to see what she thinks and will make an announcement to tons of Dentists who are likely worried after I figure this out.
Trying to figure out what the affect is on rankings.
In the example above, maybe not much since it’s pulling a blended display which means it’s mainly the organic algo at play.
However in another market I just moved a Dentist from #16 to #2 overnight with some onsite SEO tricks. Didn’t touch Place, just optimized site. Since it was the blended algo he moved up instantly. (That was Sunday)
But now suddenly his market switched to 7 pack. He doesn’t have many citations or reviews so he’s not ranking at all now.
But not only that – ALL the Dentists in the 7 pack for City + Dentist showing ZERO reviews.
So Mike what do you think about the algo? Do you think it changed in regard to how much weight reviews and citations carry? Or do you think the algo is still the same and 3rd party reviews still count in the algo, they just don’t show in the SERPS?
It looks like the dentists’ listings do have a link to the 3rd party reviews from the place page whereas you can’t find it in our industries… I really wonder if that is going to change as well.
Comment by Abby (44 comments) — July 21, 2011 @ 6:57 pm
I think google is clearly reducing their reliance on third party reviews and increasing the prominence of their own reviews. That is clear.
Minimally it signals that Google thinks that they now have a large and useful review corpus that will provide consumers with a decent picture. It also signals that they think that they are getting review spam under control….
This move will certainly change the importance and value of 3rd party review sites AND of 3rd party review management sites. They still have good links on the main serps and that should mean traffic will not be that negatively affected as not too many folks come from the Places Page. That being said I think this is a shot that all of them will hear and will need to think about their business plans.
It may reflect an update to the algo …. although that is much harder to say and much harder to track. If I were to be a betting man it would signal less importance on total quantity but more on review site diversity. But that is just a guess.
Regardless it points out why any business should though take a long term balanced approach to reviews…. lots of sources, Google, Yelp, demand review sites, CitySearch etc… it is always best to have a balanced portfolio as the winds could change and we don’t really know what the winds signify anyways.
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — July 21, 2011 @ 7:00 pm
WOW! My places listing went from 56 reviews to just the 2 that are on google reviews. They still list the other sites below my address and telephone numbers, just not over on the right side over the place page link. They are also lised on the newly redesigned places page but they are giving reviews on google the prominent place.
Search for seattle wedding photographers. My listing is B. A Beautiful Day Photography
Looks like reviews are showing now. Maybe they just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
Comment by Scott (41 comments) — July 22, 2011 @ 12:28 am
[...] Places Search No Longer Showing 3rd Party Review Counts? and Google Places Search No Longer Showing 3rd Party Review Counts? my articles from earlier yesterday with some good discussions in the comment [...]
It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the UK rankings where customers in many niches have been slower to catch on to 3rd party listing reviews. Will they be more likely to leave Places reviews now that it is easier and many more have a gmail account because of G+?
I wonder how much weight the 3rd party reviews now have in ranking factor for the Places vs. Google user reviews? Surely Google would place higher importance on their own user reviews that now are the only ones that appear in the Place page.
Comment by helen (6 comments) — July 22, 2011 @ 1:49 pm
[...] changes yesterday in 3rd party review handling will change this review competition once again and tilt the playing field a little further towards [...]
Google is looking to represent the most popular and relevant businesses to their searchers. It would seem counter intuitive for them to ignore signals from websites that have more and better information about a business than they do. While I do think this is a perfect way for Google to get more information about businesses and to “up their review generation” game, I can not see how favoring their reviews over all of the other historical information on the internet. Maybe in the future but not yet.
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — July 22, 2011 @ 1:59 pm
From what I can tell this was ONLY a front end cosmetic change NOT a backend change that affects the algo or ranking.
In some quick ranking checks I did last night, it appears the lack of 3rd party reviews showing up in the count DID NOT affect rankings. Not in the rankings I’ve checked anyway. Regardless of how many 3rd reviews were removed from the COUNT everyone’s ranking stayed the same.
Same thing holds true for the lack of visible citations.
For example: Dentists that have 200 DemandForce reviews often have 300 DemandForce citations. Even though those reviews and citations no longer show in Google, the rankings have stayed the same. (Based on just a few spot checks, not saying I’ve done a thorough analysis yet.)
Thanks for your insights Mike and Linda. It will definitely be interesting to see what happens to the missing citations too…
Comment by helen (6 comments) — July 22, 2011 @ 4:17 pm
Months ago I read somewhere that Google might be thinking about changing the weighting of the algo to ensure that relevant local businesses found it easier to rank above the large number of citation/local listing directories on the front page.
Do you think these recent changes might be a precursor to that sort of shift?
As high preist I suggest a trip to Stonehenge and the sacrifice of a young lamb….all will become clear
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — July 23, 2011 @ 3:23 pm
[...] week Google Places updated the display of the Places Page. In doing so they removed the review summaries, review snippets and 3rd party citations from the page. They removed a number of other fields from [...]
[...] other businesses in her market for having posted their own fake reviews. With Google no longer counting 3rd party reviews as of July 21st, there was a radical shift in the number of counted reviews showing for businesses [...]
Not all reviews from all review sites will show up. If the page that your reviews are on is not high enough prominence, Google will not include the reviews. That is one reason to use main stream review sites.
Another possibility is that they have been attached to a duplicate record of your business in Google Places or attached to the listing of a competitor.
The third possibility is that Google has lost them.
My money would be on the first reason.
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — September 7, 2011 @ 9:07 am