Google Places Testing New Layout

Update: This appears to be a rollout not a test.

With all of the system wide quirks of late in Google Places, there has been speculation that the under the hood snafus were a reflection of bigger and more visible changes to come. This screen shot could be one of those changes. Sent to me by Nora and Yam Regev of Coinso.com, it shows some striking differences with the current Places Page.

It is too early to know if this is what the final product will look like or if it is just a test. It is missing owner description (an oft noted complaint recently in the forums), 3rd party review sentiment snippets (also recently removed from many search results), and even the highlighted 3rd party review that was associated with each review site. The links to 3rd party reviews have move down the page while the call to action in writing reviews and signing in are dramatically more obvious.  The lack of 3rd party summary reviews on the Place page display could explain the recent change of not showing the 3rd party review counts in the main search results.

As Linda noted below, the business description is appearing in most examples and is probably missing due to the recent bug. The big change, as noted in the comments, is the missing citations.

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Google Places Testing New Layout by

73 thoughts on “Google Places Testing New Layout”

  1. @Jo
    While it is easier, a gmail user without a nickname still has to make a trip OVER to the hotpot page and then be left stranded there… bad UI design! Still too hard by half.

    Citations are baked into the algo… the only question at any point in time is their strength relative to the other variables.

  2. @Mike
    Thanks for the update–that definitely clears up a few questions (of many!).

    @Linda
    Thanks for filling me in; I’d noticed the vanishing descriptions a couple weeks ago, but didn’t notice at the time that the Details vanished, too. Good to know!

    General question:

    Is it just my imagination, or didn’t it used to be the case that when you’d write a real-time Post on your GP page, it would only indicate the DAY you wrote it, and not the hour?

    I wrote a Post a couple hours ago on a client’s GP page, and sure enough, it says “2 hours ago…” rather than “July 22.” I don’t recall ever having seen the hour: only the day. In other words, has Google become more specific about indicating *when* a business owner publishes a Post to his/her GP page?

    It’s 92F over here in MA. Please tell me that this isn’t just a byproduct of my head frying (quite likely).

  3. @Phil, on the day of posting it’ll show hour. If you check before an hour it’ll even show minutes. Past 24 hours and it just counts days. Been that way all along.

  4. @Stever & Plamen

    Ah, I must not have noticed it before. I think I’ve got a textbook case of GUP (Google update paranoia). Thanks for pointing out that the Posts in fact haven’t changed.

    Time for me to crank up the air conditioning and to start paying closer attention…

  5. “I think I’ve got a textbook case of GUP (Google update paranoia).

    LOL Phil. I am SOOOOO stealing that line to use on my blog!

    Everything I see I’m second guessing and checking old screenshots wondering “was that there before? what else am I missing”.

  6. One thing that is gone on the Places page (along with the more details) is the link that attributed 3rd parties for basic business listing data to 3rd party sites

  7. @Linda
    Steal away! (I’m just glad I’m not alone in my affliction. Makes you really appreciate all those old screenshots that seemed so extraneous at the time…)

    @Mike
    Just curious: if you had to hazard a guess, would you say that the missing basic listing data from 3rd-party sites means that Google probably will NOT give its own “Details” fields the permanent axe? I mean, that would seem consistent with the reviews change: an effort to keep people under the GP roof, and not really to *eliminate* anything per se. It seems to me that G couldn’t somehow “use” most of the additional details from IYPs behind-the-scenes but not show the reviews to actual people: I just don’t see how G could *use* much of the details data, because it’s such a mixed bag (unlike review data, which would seem more binary).

    As you can tell, the “Details” issue kind of has me by the…um…horns, and I’m really interested in whatever rumblings you’ve sensed or think might be likely.

  8. I’m seeing increased usage of the gray phrases that appear above the description, anyone else? Any idea how this data is being aggregated? I haven’t seen much on it though I’ve done some searches.

    If you look in the code, the div for these phrases mentions “known for terms” which is kind of interesting.

    Thanks for the good info, Mike and all…

  9. Be interesting to see whether existing citations will still remain a ranking factor or whether they will be disregarded completely as well as being visibly removed.

  10. @Mike

    Thanks for pointing me to those, I actually opened David’s article from earlier but hadn’t read it yet.

    That’s interesting then, do you predict any of the changes will affect the algorithm? I would be surprised if that remained unchanged in it’s current state, I guess time will tell.

    Do you have business directories in the US that provide listings on Google Places that get biased prominence from Google? For example, we have a UK directory listing service that have a ‘contract’ with Google where all their listings (and these are all completely basic/unclaimed listings – no description, no images, no business information etc) will generally rank ahead of other businesses that have spent time and effort on their listings. To claim these listings, the UK company in question cold call the business owners and try to charge up to £700 for the optimisation of them and for the owners to complete their business details.

  11. After reading every comment on this page up until now what I find interesting is that no one sees the integration into Google+.

    Last week I watched a video on Google+ from a Googler saying they were going to change their idea. Instead of having a limited trial for business profiles they would just move forward quickly and open up the business profiles ASAP.

    They’re not going to start from scratch. They already have a working business platform, well, working in that it has changed functionality or it’s name every year since 2003!

    So let’s buckle up and get ready for a leap 1000 steps forward. I think we all need to forget what we know and love and be prepared to relearn it all again in the near future.

    I predict Google+ for business is going to be Google Places with a Stream and Circles. This update on July 21 is the first step.

  12. @Matthew

    Certainly Google+ integration is coming and might be a game changer… I think if you read the 5 or 6 subsequent posts and the many comments you will find most readers cognizant of that.

    But Places is returning business today and for G+ to have a similar impact it needs not only Business pages and to come out of test but it needs very broad adoption.

    It will be important if your, mine and others antennae are correct but it will be several years before it has the clout of Places… or even a space at the SMB table.

  13. Vanessa posted this update in the forum:

    Seeing a lot of questions in the forum, let me just clarify a couple things about the new Place pages. The following info you provide may not appear on your Place page, but it’s all still used to help us understand more about your business:

    • Email address
    • Menu
    • Reservations
    • Optional attributes / Additional details
    • Service area toggle “Show service area”

    So just because we’re not showing it, doesn’t mean it’s not helpful for us to have — it helps our system ensure that your organic listing appears and ranks appropriately on Google and Google Maps when potential customers perform searches related to your service.

    For more info about ranking, check out this blog post:

    http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/12/how-local-search-ranking-works.html

    Hope this helps,

    Vanessa

    That would indicate that they are not coming back any time soon.

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