News flash! If you were relying on Yelp, Angie’s List and InsiderPages to get extra reviews on your Google Place pages, you won’t be anymore. Google, under a torrent of criticism, has stopped scrapping those sites’ reviews. 3rd party sites have long complained that Google was using their content, or content generated on their sites, to boost it’s own review service, Google Places. Yelp has been particularly vocal with their displeasure.
This has created a bit of a quandary for small business owners that benefited from having reviews of their businesses aggregated in one place. Now, if you go to a company’s Place Page, it might look a little bare. Only reviews from registered Google users will appear there.
The winners in this scenario are clearly the 3rd party sites. Google will no longer be able to piggyback off of their hard work to bolster it’s own review site. Plus, I think Google will really have to improve their user review process. The losers are users of Google’s search. It will be a bit more time consuming to do research on the companies they are looking into. I don’t think Google is affected in any particularly large way. Their place page results are still going to appear at the top of the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages).
What does this mean for business owners? It means that they are going to have to send their satisfied customers to multiple places to post their reviews. I don’t think this is a bad thing, though. For the time being, more people are engaging sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. However, do not ignore Google Places. Not only does it appear at the top of the SERP’s, but it is also gaining traction in the mobile app world. In other words, if you diversify your online presence, you won’t have anything to worry about.