Last week Google overhauled the layout for local business Place Pages, and the most significant change relates to the way third-party reviews are displayed. As is often the case with Google updates, this latest change sent business owners and local search marketers scrambling for answers, but we now know the changes are mostly cosmetic. Third-party reviews are still very important for a Place Page’s ability to rank higher and differentiate from competing listings, and prospective customers continue to visit third-party reviews sites before making a purchase decision. Here are the key takeaways:
By all indications, this latest overhaul is visual and not necessarily an algorithm change. The reviews themselves may not be displayed as prominently, but Google is still counting third-party reviews as an important indicator of a listing’s quality and relevance. As local search guru David Mihm explains, we should not confuse an interface update with an algorithm update. Google uses reviews to help searchers make decisions with high-quality information, and third-party reviews are among the most important ranking factors. So, if you want your Place Page to rank higher, focus on the quality of the reviews and the regularity with which you get the reviews.
Third-party counts continue to index in Place Pages as well as out on the 7-pack:
This may come as a surprise to many, but Place Pages were never the most significant source of traffic to third-party reviews sites. Organic search was always a more significant driver of traffic to reviews pages. As reviews are the most sought-after resource for shoppers online, prospective customers continue to seek out and consume third-party reviews at different stages of the buying processes. This usually means googling a businesses name, often in combination with a few other keywords, to see what comes up. Here is an organic search return for “Hayward Auto Care”
Reputation marketing is about opening up the lines of communication between businesses, customers, and prospects. Third-party reviews are a critical marketing component because they are valued by consumers, not merely because they boost search engine optimization. A reviews solicitation process is therefore essential, and of course, the biggest difference-maker continues to be the quality of work and customer service you provide.
Clients of Customer Lobby stay tuned! We are releasing a bunch of new functionality that will help you get more reviews on other third-party sites, including Google.