If you’ve recently noticed some odd behavior on your Google Places page – missing owner descriptions, photos appearing and disappearing, missing review snippets, and a great big sign in button – don’t worry! You’re not alone, and it should all settle down soon. Google has been testing a new layout for their Places pages, and it seems those changes are now rolling out.
According to Google, many of their changes were driven by their desire to make the user experience “more focused, elastic, and effortless.” Reviews are all grouped together in one area of the page, making them easier to find and sort through. A large “Write a review” button has been added near the top of the page to encourage Google users to write more reviews.
Review snippets from sources other than Google have been removed, but they are continuing to provide links to sites such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and TripAdvisor so that users can get a “comprehensive view of locations.”
I imagine we can expect a bit more turbulence as these updates fully roll out and more changes in the not-too-distant future, based on Google’s statement about their vision for the future of local search:
- Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places — because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful;
- Integrating some of the great information that’s been buried on Place pages into your web search experience across all Google platforms;
- Giving you more ways to rate, discover and share places you love faster and easier than ever, wherever you are, and on whichever device you choose.
You can find the full, official Google blog post about this update here.
Based on Google’s statements, and their not-afraid-to-fail approach to product launches and updates, what do you think we’ll see changing in the near future?