Google Places: What Else Went Missing on the Places Page in the Update

Last 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 the Places display as well.

Quite a few readers have asked where this field or that field has gone and whether it is returning or why it is not displaying so I am reposting Google Places Community Manager Vanessagene‘s comments from the Google Places forums to make explicit what else is not showing:

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

Google has always contended that the content on the Places Page was informed by what searchers found useful. Whether this removal of the information reflects that ethos, the desire to make the page more visually streamlined or whether Google is making space for additional (money making?) features is unclear at this point.

A number of readers in the forum were displeased with Google’s decision to remove this data and the post comments are worth a read. The most salient being that it makes little sense to provide all of these details to Google if Google is not going to show them. Regardless, I would presume that the above fields of data are not coming back to the Places page any time soon.

On a related note there is still a bug on a number of Places pages where the business description is not showing. Google’s intention is to show the description on the page. They are aware of the bug and, one presumes, that they will locate and display that data some day.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places: What Else Went Missing on the Places Page in the Update by

13 thoughts on “Google Places: What Else Went Missing on the Places Page in the Update”

  1. What else went missing?

    As an always be testing strategist, some “local” listing accounts are off the radar, no where to be found. Some are test accounts of mine and when the account had all its listings red flagged, I went in and clicked “edit” and save and they came back immediately. My guestimate is the big G sniffed out the rats which confirms my suspicion that real eyes are upon those who push the envelope. Every days a school day, live and learn!

  2. I am still seeing Reservations in hotel GP listings.

    Mike, do think they are stripping this all out as simple version so they can then turn around and have a enhanced “paid” GP listing soon?

    I am really curious to see how they connect it to G+ too.

    So many unknowns right now.

  3. @Mathew

    While the pay for enhancement theory is an interesting one, I don’t buy that they will charge to show enhanced data in G+ nor for the G+ Business Account. Google does not charge to show data.

    That doesn’t mean they won’t develop interesting and useful fee based products around the Business+ account. They do charge for advertising, driving traffic and business.

    I do however see the “strip data provided by business out of Places” and make it available in Google+ business pages as a variation on that theory. It is one that makes more sense to me.

    It is a way that would make + very attractive as a business platform immediately to SMB.

    Imagine if you can show all of the enhanced data in Places including menus etc. Imagine Google + being a place that would highlight all coupons and allow for restaurant reservations (that would cost of course). The restaurant world would jump all over it and instantly join Google+.

    As adoption by businesses increases in + Google could roll out a variety of paid products that would use + as a transaction and advertising platform.

  4. One more thing that went missing (and it is a good exclusion as well) – if you are the verified business owner, you cannot post reviews for your business anymore. I suppose that was a loophole in the system, so it is good they cleared that out.

  5. We are disappointed the additional details area is missing. This is a selling point to get people to claim their Google Places. Google’s guidelines recommend using the details area for just about any extra information you want to provide customers. With the limited 200 character description and 5 categories potential customers need to leave the listing to find more info. The only other option is posting an update (160) characters.

    How do you explain to your clients that have been using the additional details that it is now gone?

  6. @Jim Rudnick – I think you got me confused with Mary Bowling, who is the one that said that over at Mihm’s. I never posted anything about a paid biz model. Don’t feel that’s what’s going on. I only posted about what Vanessa said in the forum.

    I have a new theory. :-)

    RE the MORE DETAILS SECTION

    I think this whole update is largely about removing 3rd party data. In the purest sense Google was taking and using content from other sites for it’s own gain. Some companies objected to that practice.

    With reviews, review counts and snippets it’s pretty obvious, I think why they would stop doing it.

    ADDITIONAL DETAILS SECTION: What no one has mentioned however is this. Remember how the page the more details section landed on used to look?

    In a typical case there would be a HUGE ‘scraped’ section taken from Angie’s List with a long list of services, specialties, service areas, languages spoken, huge keyword list and on and on and on. Then there would be another section scraped from HealthGrades, another from Insider Pages and usually a couple more too. So it would be a HUGE page of scraped content, with typically one VERY SMALL section that said “from the business owner”

    Keep in mind the # of Places that are claimed AND optimized is very small! The great majority of businesses just add 1 pic, description and hours. (IF that!)

    So my theory is this… either due to lots of the small legal hassles they likely get from companies about scraped content OR possibly from some FTC concern that has not come to light yet, they decided, (possibly were forced to decide suddenly) they needed to remove ALL scraped 3rd party content.

    So IF that’s the situation (or reasonably close) the more details by the business owner was either a case of A) the baby got thrown out with the bath water. B) Or since most companies don’t even bother to use that section, they may have decided it wasn’t worth the additional page of real estate.

    No way could they move that section to the main Place page in it’s current form because there are too many custom fields allowed. Sometimes that section would be empty and other times it would be HUGE and take up too much space since some companies do so a full page of KW spam in that section.

    The other thing that possibly fed into this decision is I BET click-through to the more details 2nd page was very low. I think us marketers probably clicked through to read that page more than consumers ever did. In fact I would bet consumers SELDOM clicked through to page 2.

    I think the perfect solution would be to limit that section to 5 or so fields and put it at the bottom of page 1 where citations used to be. Most companies could get their MOST important additional details listed with 5 additional fields. Services, services areas, parking, brands, languages, whatever is important to highlight for their business.

    IF they took my advice and did this, the other thing they could EASILY do to help limit KW spamming (which would be even more likely to happen if the data showed on page 1) is not allow any words from city or categories to be repeated. (Seriously. Just throw up a simple error saying those words are already mentioned in your listing and can’t be repeated). Granted spammers could use synonyms but they could not do a full page of geo/exact KW repetition like some of them do now.

    Just woke up, this all just occurred to me and went straight from brain to fingers without thinking it through AND before my 1st cup of coffee. So possibly I’m off base, but I think it makes sense that this could be at least part of the decision.

    Oh and for the record… I LOVE that section too. I always put a TON of time and energy into building it out with highly relevant content that would be helpful to the customer as well as Google. I’ll still be going to the trouble of adding it, in case it helps with Google. And will just send the client a screen shot I guess and tell them something like: “these enhanced details are sort of like the background coding meta tag stuff that’s hidden from view on your site. Customers won’t see it, but it can help Google understand more about your business.”

    My ‘just woke up’ 2 cents.

  7. Linda, your theory pretty much overlaps with mine with a slight nuance. I think the “Details” section is still there and they are trying to divide the content uploaded by the verified owner, and the one that was scraped from third-party sources. The description is just an innocent victim in this tweaking, as it is considered part of the additional details structure on the Place page. It is just a personal opinion, but if you think about it, basically the “Details” was the only section where there were both native Google Places data, and scraped third-party data “living together” in peace and not overlapping each other. I expressed my thoughts in an article from yesterday. Brilliant minds think alike people say :)

  8. Hello Mike,

    I just happened to find your post by chance, and I think you might be able to help, since I am having a big issue with my google places. My website used to feature right at the top of the search for ‘image consultants singapore’ along with the map and everything but since 2 days ago, not only has it lost its map and place page but it has dropped down in the search page. This is causing me a lot of concern as a lot of my business comes through the website and I have been working to set all the information i have provided about my business right, as in the name, description etc.

    Would you have any idea as to why this happened and how I can get it back to atleast show the map.

    Thanks very much for your time,
    Maninder

  9. @Maninder

    I have made it a policy to not answer ranking questions here. It is difficult to fully analyze and understand the context of your problem and to be sure that you understand the nuances of the response.

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