Google made some big changes to Google places this past week that will affect local SEO. How much we don’t know yet, but we’ll watch and see what happens.
Google Places Review Purge
If you go to your Places page or any other Places pages you’ll see a huge change to reviews and citations. Google has removed reviews from Yelp and other 3rd party review services and replaced them with a big red button for a Google Review.
Google Places Citations Killed
Citations are gone. They’ve been removed. I believe Google will still count them, but just like most of the links they have in their databases for a site, they’re not going to show them. This makes it more difficult for SEO because competitor citation sources are not longer there for easy pickings.
Matt McGee at Search Engine Land has more:
Local searchers and local businesses will see a fairly substantially different Place Page the next time they’re poking around Google Maps/Places. The company announced a new look Thursday and promises more changes to come.
The new layout of Place Pages puts a heavy emphasis on reviews. More specifically, it emphasizes reviews from Google users and no longer shows review content from third party sites. (Google had issues with both Yelp and TripAdvisor over review snippets last year, you may recall.)
Go to Google Overhauls Place Pages, Emphasizes Reviews & Kills Citations to read his story.
We can see it’s very important for small business SEO to stay up on changes at Google. Why, because they are making them all the time. Stay tuned for more.