Today I noticed some more interesting changes with Google maps which I had not previously in the past. We see that the maps listings are far larger then in the past. This new change is evident on several variations of the Google places product.
1. Single location listing, larger location and images from places.
2. GEO store location listing where we see 3 locations.
3. Numerous locations with larger image and ads below the map.
It seems that all citation data from 3rd party sources has been removed from Google places, Anyone who has worked in Google Places knows that Review data is highly important, Reviews are like Links for ranking withing Google Places and are seen as a strong factor.
So if clients see a huge drop in the number of reviews it has, I have an example below of how many reviews clients may lose,
Looking at the term “Sydney Restaurant” in November 2010 we saw the following ranks:
Compare this with “Sydney Restaurant” in July 2011
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Tetsuya’s = 521 reviews reduced to 85 reviews.
Quay = 335 reviews reduced to 86 reviews.
Aria Restaurant = 466 reviews reduced to 64 reviews.
It is evident to see how much of a drop some of these locations have actually had in review numbers.
Thought this change was worth sharing, to bring awareness to this area.
So last week I was doing some analysis on search terms as I do on a daily basis, and I searched the term “Places”, What I found was interesting it seemed that Facebook was ranking in position 1 for the keyword “places” with personalization off.
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Now I tried the same search term today, and the results are very different, Google is now in the search position 1 and position 2 and they even have site links, bit funny don’t you think?
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I know this could be testing done by Google, but some analysis on this term shows Facebook Places is the stronger URL.
So I have been putting the message out into the global market about the problems around Google Places citation data for quite some time, if not for the last 18 months I have been blogging about this issues, I have had two posts featured on sites like Search Engine Land and many other search marketing websites.
So I have been posting about Google places several times in the past, showing some of the problems I have been experience and asking Google to fix these issues, in some cases you are dealing with very high traffic terms so I am dumbfounded when these problems with citations are not fixed for months if not years. In November I located a in this post: with a term which has around 6,000+ queries a month in Australia this issue was giving around 100+ citations which were false.
Now this problem noted in the post has not been fixed I have noticed another issue, I was recently researching the term “Plumbing Sydney” and I saw some very interesting Google Places citation data. I will let the following images do the talking:
The first image shows the term, plumbing Sydney with a bunsiness CBD Plumbing ranking in first position.
The second image shows that 6 reviews are coming from a website called “Top 10 Australia” interesting website for a Plumbers to be on wouldn’t you think?
So when you then click this link on the 3rd image it links you up to Shangri-La Hotel Sydney? Random!! This is not even the right business it is a totally different business which is been linked to yet the review citations are been counted for CBD Plumbing, Unfair isn’t it!
So this leaves me with the feeling that Google places review data should not even be counted by Google at times, it is a strong ranking factor in high competition niches so then you have citation data with so many issues.
I wonder if Google is on top of these problems within Google Places! It is annoying me and I am sure it is annoying many other digital marketers.
I recently posted about Google Place Problems on my blog and the more and more I research into Google places the more problems you find. Take a look at the number one Places listing for “Hotels Sydney” This term gets around 6,000 searches a month so traffic is quite good one would think. Yet taking a look at the type of reviews Google allows they are obviously not the high quality you would expect, you would think their is at least a word limit some one has written a review consisting of “Hi” other reviews are just random scrapings it looks like.
I think Google needs to clean up this mess as business’s who have invested in SEO for organic listings now need to compete with these new changes in Places listings yet you would never advise a client to use “dodgy” tactics like the ones I have been seeing in places listings around the world.
Over the last week I have been conducing some heavy research into Google Places after the big changes recently and I have noticed a huge problem with the review data. Any one who optimizes for Google local will know that Review data is an important factor, especially for the high level keywords which can drive very good amounts of traffic a highly optimized Google places listing with a large amount of reviews can work very well.
I have noticed that Google is now collecting data from Forums for reviews. The crazy thing about this is that say you have a thread on a forum where people have “Best Restaurant” Google has then thought they would be smart and pick up data with in this forum thread for reviews the only problem is if you have a Restaurant that is named after a popular location you will instantly see a boost in reviews. I noticed one of the companies ranking on page one for “Sydney Restaurant” has around 93 reviews coming from 1 single thread on JDM style tuning forum, this to me seemed a little funny. After digging around it seems the restaurant “Quay” was bringing in reviews for any one who had listed “Circular Quay” Have a look at the images below which outline these serious problems with places –
This first image shows results for “Sydney Restaurant”
The second image shows 93 reviews are coming from maps.
As you can see from picture three we can see inside the forum where the reviews are coming from.
In picture 4 we see the problem with the keyword “Circular Quay” picking up review for “Quay Restaurant”