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”