I haven’t pontificated on last week’s changes that removed most of the third party data from displaying on Google Place Pages – I basically agree with David Mihm’s assessment of the situation – this is an interface update, not an algorithm update.

This article by FT.com implies that Google removed 3rd party reviews from Place Pages because of potential legal threats from sites like Yelp. This may be, but I am not 100% convinced. After all, there are numerous review sites that had both formal and informal feed relationships with Google. Perhaps it was easier to nuke everything rather than selectively remove Yelp reviews, but then again, maybe they didn’t really remove those reviews after all:

1. Go to maps.google.com
2. Search “site:yelp.com” or “site:demandforce.com” or any other review site and voila:

You can also search for specific data that was in the “Details” section by adding those words to the query like “hours”.

Or you could do it this way (although this method doesn’t seem to show the review text from Yelp):

1. Go to Google.com and search for “yelp.com”

2. When you get the SERP, click on the “Places” filter on the left and voila

Of course these are probably leftovers from the update and will likely be cleaned up (or perhaps not) so use these methods while you can.

Do you really think that’s air you’re breathing?

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10 Response Comments

  • Nyagoslav  July 27, 2011 at 5:55 am

    The reviews from third-parties are all but gone. Excerpts from them still appear in the organic search results under the business information, the count snippets of all the sources too. The count snippets of the top 3 sources still appear on the Place page itself.

    Honestly, I’m not sure what value the “Reviews from around the web” section was bringing, as it was showing only parts of only 1-2 reviews per source + they were very often wrong.

  • Andrew Shotland  July 27, 2011 at 6:02 am

    That’s why I am not convinced this was a response to the FTC. As you say that part of the Place Page was always screwed up and in many cases added mostly noise to the experience.

  • Robert Ramirez  July 27, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I’m still confused about the disappearance of things like business description and additional information?? While the extraneous reviews did add “noise” to the place pages, information in these fields contributed to conversion, imo. Is it an overall place page trust issue? A temporary bug?

  • Bill P  July 27, 2011 at 11:19 am

    How to find Yelp reviews? I’m glad you wrote the article to clarify how I can read Yelp reviews. It would be really cool if Yelp allowed people to visit a website where people could actually find Yelp reviews. Now if I could only figure out how to find Time magazine articles and CNN news stories!

  • Andrew Shotland  July 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Why you would want to find a bunch of recycled press releases is beyond me but whatever.

    Robert, too soon to know whether these changes are a bug or a feature.

  • Andrew Shotland  July 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I think you are misinterpreting Matt’s words. They “killed” them by not showing them, not by removing them from the algo.

  • Nyagoslav  July 29, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Andrew, I believe Matt himself came up with a bit misleading title. If I were not following what exactly was going on, I was going to think the same as Charlie. Citations are all but dead, and they are basically one of the core elements in the local ranking algorithm, so they will definitely not be “killed” that easily.

  • Andrew Shotland  July 29, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I don’t disagree. When I first saw the words that’s what I thought too, but then I saw it was Matt who wrote them and figured that he was cranking out some copy and hadn’t realized the potential for misinterpretation.

  • Trust  August 10, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I disagree. I think matt cutts whole purpose is to cause infomation leak as google wants & then to kill or misdirect any information they want surpressed. Reviews-Citations-killed in title was on purpose, and yet they still work smashingly for me. coincidence?