Google Dropping Review Shadow Box in Serp and Going Directly to Plus?

Yesterday while doing training I noticed that Google was dropping the review shadow box from the main search results and taking users directly to the business Plus page.  Today others are noticing this as well. Nicolai Helling pointed the new behavior out on G+.

As Nicolai mentioned and I agree this change “seems to be preparatory to release a new way to insert the Google+ Local results into the main Google-SERPs” that I wrote about early in the week with the total absence of review links in the new mini pack results. 

Currently the review shadow box STILL shows for brand searches on both the link under the One Pack and in the Knowledge panel.  But on Pack results users are directed to the Plus About page. On the current Carousel a click takes the searcher to a brand search.

While it is possible that the 7-pack will survive the carousel transition to newly seen Mini Pack, all of this behavior would be consistent with changing all local results to the new mini pack as well.

Brand Search still directs to the Review Shadow Box
Brand Search & resultant knowledge panel still directs to the Review Shadow Box
click to view larger
click to view larger


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Dropping Review Shadow Box in Serp and Going Directly to Plus? by

24 thoughts on “Google Dropping Review Shadow Box in Serp and Going Directly to Plus?”

  1. I also spotted this on Google yesterday. Sometimes these changes appear later in the UK than the US, but not this time, it seems.

  2. This is the step that makes the google + page far more formidable and important than any other step to date, in my opinion. It drives customers off of search. Search at is the huge gorilla.

    Those that hit on reviews will have an opportunity to view your “wares” as showcased on the google + page. Its not your page, its google’s page, but you’ll have to make the best of it. It’s the compelling reason to spruce up your google plus page to make it as attractive as possible.

  3. Great find. And better news. That review pop-up sucked.

    I’m guessing its removal means Google is probably serious about not only replacing the carousel with that new brass-tacks layout, but maybe even rolling it out to search results that didn’t trigger the carousel.

  4. Well if they migrate to the “mini-pac” it will be one more step in limiting visibility to a tiny few…more of a “google controlling everything” wherein both users and smb’s could be shortchanged. Frankly I find more and more value in apps, that additionally present many choices…something google seems to be moving away from.

    Mike: One other issue:

    Try describing all this to an smb operator who is still new to this game, of which there are millions. (By example in my region there are thousands of restaurants-I’ve gone through a sample of a couple of hundred–> virtually none of well developed business plus pages.)

    So to take the descriptions above from your article:
    shadow box
    business plus page
    mini pac
    One Pac
    knowledge panel
    Plus about page

    This might be fine for active seo’s with many clients scaling efforts to get visibility…but for a simple smb these descriptions are daunting and confusing.

    Frankly Google has caused this. They have changed their own branding many times. Their presentations have changed again and again. The search page changes. What shows changes.

    Its overwhelmingly confusing. The smb’s need to focus on their businesses. The ever changing google world is a constant state of flux.

    Its simply daunting and not smb friendly in its never ending evolution of change and names, etc etc.

  5. Andy reminded me of something: if I remember correctly, before the review pop-up didn’t Google take you to the Posts tab when you clicked on the “Reviews” link in the SERPs?

  6. Same thing happening over here in Oz. Thank goodness we’ve been keeping up with our G+ business pages.

  7. My problem with all of this is that Google reviews suck. It seems that most people put very little effort or time into writing reviews with some being as simple as a star rating with no review (I assume from a mobile user). I also manage a number of clients who only get reviews from pissed of customers or ex-employees and no matter what you do those stick around but get a bunch of happy good customers to write reviews and those disappear.

    Google can keep re-arranging the deck chairs but in the end their lack of focus, enormous size, and need to appease stock holders will be their long term detriment. The whole “My Business” move is a great shift in marketing and could really work great but, let’s be honest, they will do another major change and name shift within 9-12 months and leave us all scrambling to catch up.

    @Phil – I am sure Mike could document this better but it, as with most things local is an on again off again affair.

  8. @Mark

    Yes, but that doesn’t shed light on the question of whether Google changed the destination URL of those links to reviews. I seem to remember they used to dump users out at “Posts,” rather than on the “About” tab. But my memory and 75 cents will get you a bag of chips….

  9. @Mike

    Yes, the link that said “Google+” would go to Posts, but I’m wondering about the reviews link – before the reviews pop-up showed up last July.

  10. @Ryan said: “First they remove the benefits of authorship, now this.”

    I believe most of us think removing ‘this’ was a good thing and we’d rather have the reviews link take you to the G+ L page.

    @Phil I’m pretty sure the reviews link always went to the about page.

  11. @Linda – for @Phil -I agree – my experience is the reviews link generally went to the About page. However, I did note instances when it went to a Posts page when the SMB had utilized that social aspect.
    My concern is that if Google shifts to the mini pack for carousel and possibly the Packs … the mini pack info is sparse at best – no website, phone, street address.

    To me, this is the same mistake they made when the new maps were intro’d – just a bunch of scattered dots devoid of any real/useful info on a local business AND that did not even seem to track to any prioritization of results seen in the SERPs Pack or even carousel.

    And since consumers have moved away from NAP and shifted toward enhanced content … then why doesn’t the largest SE on Earth get that preference?

    And, 3 SMBs in a large metro area will get the visibility? The eyeballs, clicks, calls, customers, cash? For a SE, that’s a terrible shift away from useful info -> to more aesthetics. Who gives a damn about how visually appealing their pages are … give me what I came for without needing to make another 2-3 clicks to get it! Seems Google needs to get a level headed leader back in charge that reminds them of WHAT made them the search giant they are now.

    Google is all about monetization. And this will create more Ad space and force SMBs to pay-up to get found. But cheating local businesses of exposure and forcing consumers to click more to locate needed info … how nearsighted!

  12. It looks like Google is doing some serious testing the last month or so. I wonder what changes they have in store. They are obviously taking a more serious look at local than they have in years (post-Marissa Meyers).

  13. Surely a lot going on with the general functioning of Google at the moment. Have been seeing loads of testing in the last couple of weeks. Well, we will see how this turns out.

    Still can’t believe they totally dropped Authorship 🙁 Our clients are very disappointed. They could handle the picture but also the name gone…

    Greetings from Innsbruck,


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