Today Google dropped all third party reviews from its yellow stars review rating on the Google Places Page. Now only reviews directly posted on Google Places are showing. That means if you were relying on Yelp, DealerRater or any other third-party site to entice customers over to your place of business, they’re gone. Also gone with them are all third-party citations and Web sources. Instead, Google is now linking users directly to the individual reviews. That means DealerRater reviews are now only viewable on DealerRater.com – users are not seeing them on your business’ Google Place Page.
Now that more importance being placed on your Google Place Page reviews, Google is encouraging users to talk about your brand and leave reviews with a Write a Review call to action located directly on your business page. The addition of this Write a Review call to action is something small business owners should take advantage of. The existence of that button will encourage customers to leave reviews and will also allow for your business to engage and interact with customers, by responding to reviews whether they are positive, negative or neutral. The more action there is on the Places page, the better and more trusted you’re going to look to visitors who land on it.
If you weren’t actively seeking out reviews on Google before, it would be a good idea to make it part of your review strategy now. Before it was easy enough to focus on the major review sites and to allow Google to bring in this content, but with Google now leaving that content off its native domain, it means many small business owners may find themselves with a pretty empty-looking Google page. The same way you are soliciting reviews for other sites, you now want to make sure you’re adding Google to the list.
Overall, the changes usher in what Google must assume is a more mature product and experience for users. The fact that they’re no longer relying on third-party reviews likely hints at a belief that their local audience is big enough to support its own review community. Keep building reviews up in a variety of different sources, but if you hadn’t yet added Google Places to that list, this update is a clear sign that you should.