Google Places Listings with Changed Interface

May 5, 2011 at 11:34 pm 1 comment


Lately, Google was making significant changes in the interface of the Google Places listings. Some of these included the repositioning of different sections over the page, others – the adoption of completely new features, and still others – the disappearing of some. These are the changes spotted up to now:

1) New features:

- Links to the top 3 third-party review websites, where the business got reviewed on, over the business description

- A whole new “Upcoming events” section

2) Repositioning of the sections:

Currently

Previously

1. Upcoming Events (new) 1. Details
2. Photos & Videos 2. What people are saying
3. What people are saying 3. Photos & Videos
4. Details 4. Reviews from around the web
5. Offers 5. Reviews by Google users
6. Reviews from around the web 6. Offers
7. Reviews by Google users

3) Disappearing of features:

- Business E-mail information

What could be the meaning of each of these?

The links to the top 3 third-party review websites for the business near the top of the listing mean that when a potential customer clicks on the Place page, they could immediately see not only the overall count of reviews for the business (as it was up to now), but also which external (non-Google Places) websites do these reviews come from. This is coming up after a tension in the relations between Google and Yelp, regarding the Yelp reviews showing up on the Google Places pages of the businesses that are actually not reviewed on a Google platform. This seems to be the most probable reason for the inclusion.

The “Upcoming events” section could be most useful for large businesses such as hotels and restaurants, which have enough space to hold them. This is coming as an addition to the “Book now” section added in April and the other changes targeting the accommodation industry as a whole.

The positioning of the “Photos & Videos” section over all the others secondary sections comes together with the official presentation of Business Photos. Is that a coincidence? I doubt it. The reason could also be partly the fact that Google realized that people would rather notice the images of the business they would buy from/dine at/overnight at/visit, than the full with badly scraped content and often spammed “Details” section. Furthermore, it seems like the business e-mails start disappearing from this section, but only for some businesses (mostly for the newly created listings). It is not sure if this is a glitch or a trend that is going to be applied for all the Place pages, but some opinions were heard that this is caused by the unprecedented number of programs scraping the Google Places listings for the e-mails of the business owners.

And finally, the “Offers” section, which was previously almost completely hidden under all the others, now appears OVER the review sections, and this coincides with Google making an “Offers” marketing push.

Have you noticed some other changes on the interface of the Google Places listings and what do you think the ones I have outlined?

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