Google Places prioritises reviews – Big news for travel aggregators

by Peter Young on July 22, 2011 · 1 comment

As from July 21st, Google have completely revised their Places pages, with potentially huge implications for people like Trip Advisor and the like many of whom have seen their citations included within Local search results for a number of years now. The new layout of Place Pages are putting a heavy emphasis on reviews, more so it emphasizes reviews from Google users rather than aggregated third party content.

Reviews for the sites which previously were included within citations can still be found however these are linked to below the Google reviews.

With the additional review functionality, interactivity with Places pages have been significantly increased. The ability to upload pictures is now a prominent option next to the ability to add reviews to the Places page. Much of this additional functionality would appear to be down to feedback received as a result of Hotpot released earlier in the year.

The changes and tweaks to the Google Places results are unlikely to end there. Over the coming months, Google have already said we can expect the following:

  1. More personalized results when you search for local places
  2. Integrating some of the great information that’s been buried on Place pages into the web search experience across all Google platforms;
  3. More ways to rate, discover and share places you love faster and easier than ever, wherever you are, and on whichever device you choose.

Its interesting to see Google move in this direction. Issues with citation providers such as Tripadvisor and Yell are well documented. It is however within the Hotel sector in particular where I can’t help feeling this pinch might be the heaviest felt. As an early adopter of technologies we have seen sites such as Tripadvisor and the like gain significant traction via their inclusion in Places. With much of the development of Places now very much appearing to be setting up as a provider of aggregated results, one can’t help feeling that much of Google’s current activity is gearing up for a more concerted delve into the marketplace similar to what they have been doing in other markets such as Finance.

By making Google the source for not just review based information, but also the starting point for a potential booking one can’t help feeling its only time before we see Google make a real attempt at monetising Places and really throwing the cat in amongst the pigeons – particularly when once considers how it may combine with other parts of Google’s toolkit.

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