The difference the changes to Google Places make

Google Places

Google Places
Google has made a number of changes to its Google Places service, which used to draw reviews from other sources such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, CitySearch, and Urban Spoon, but which now has additional features and includes reviews strictly generated by their own users.

Google Places was started about a year ago, at which time the third party sources of reviews complained that Google was using their site content – especially because the Places reviews typically received superior search ranks to the original sources. That said, now that Google is producing its own content, the third party sites are upset that they have been cut off from use.

Google Places also now features a share button which is intended to help to streamline reviews specifically for the service. It is assumed that this is the case as Google is no longer using the third party reviews to build their pages.

These changes to Google Places can have some significant consequences for businesses that have been using this type of service to help with their rank and to make themselves findable to customers. Typically, these companies are either small- or medium-sized and don’t have the marketing budgets to implement full scale online marketing campaigns to keep their search engine ranks high when compared to “the big guys”.

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Before the changes to Google Places, it didn’t much matter where a review was left for a particular business, because it would eventually make its way to Google. Now, businesses need to strive to receive their reviews at just the right sites if they want them to make a difference.

That said, there are a few things that businesses can do in order to develop a positive Google Places reputation:

• Consider it an opportunity to make up for bad reviews that were obtained in the past
• Encourage customers to post reviews as much as possible
• Respond to negative reviews by posting an objective response, but don’t post an argument. The goal is to be transparent and professional, not defensive and willing to fight in public.
• Encourage regulars and happy customers to leave reviews so that it isn’t just angry customers who are posting.

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