This recently came in from an Anaheim Ca Florist that follows Google Maps closely in her industry:
I can’t speak for a system-wide change, but there have been LOTS of changes when it comes to searching for florists on Google. An update seemed to start on Wednesday of last week and finish on Sunday night.
-Many local florists have had their reviews from CitySearch stripped from their review summaries. Ours have completely disappeared and so have most of the top florists in major cities. I still see a few here and there, but overall – they’ve been greatly reduced. Not sure if it was a fall-out between G and CS or a review quality filter – but the deletions are noticeable.
– The threshold to have review stars displayed in the One Box and Google Local summaries appears to have increase from 3 to at least 5 reviews. Up until last week, it only took 3 reviews to get the stars to show. Most of the One Boxes for major city queries used to displayed stars and now very few do.
The review stars and ratings had a HUGE positive impact on click-throughs and purchases. ….Traffic from the OneBox is down since the change.
– Google also seems to be filtering out reviews left by users. We had a total of 12, lost 3 from City Search, and all but one left directly by folks with Google logins. Our OneBox appearances only show 4 but clicking on the link brings up 5 (4 from InsiderPages.com and only 1 of the 5 written directly there. The other 4 have vanished, too.)
– Remember when Google has displaying only ‘Local’ target Adwords ads in local if there were ‘local advertisers’? That policy appears to have changed, too. Our local ad got dinged for a quality score but I *think* it had more to do with low bid amounts. The ‘national’ affiliate marketer advertisers (FTD, 1800flowers, etc) look to be paying upwards of $3/click and locals could get good placement in Local for about a buck. No more.
We florists are on the forefront of ‘Local’ and we have to succeeding there to be around in the future. Otherwise, we’ll have FTD, 1800Flowers, Teleflora and all the other affiliate marketers taking 30-40%+ cuts of each order we deliver. It’s a matter of survival that we get our arms around ‘local’ search.
This communication brings up several interesting points;
â€¢Clearly, in certain categories Google’s inclusion of local on the main search page is leading to significant online and off-line traffic.
â€¢Small changes in their presentation can have a huge effect in the real world. The impact of the removal of the stars deserves attention.
â€¢Why would Google remove recent reviews that came from Google itself?
â€¢The information about CitySearch might indicate that Google has changed or even dropped their “trusted” source relationship with CitySearch. It was but a year ago that much was made of the CitySearch-Google partnership. I looked at an account/phrase that I track regularly (Restaurants Bradford Pa) and also found that reviews from CitySearch that I had fought with Google very hard to have included are now gone.
Could it be related to this post this afternoon by Greg Sterling: Citysearch and MerchantCircle in Repicrocal Deal?
Have you seen similar changes over the past few weeks?