Yes, Google made some significant changes yesterday to their algorithms essentially stripping all star ratings of third party review from dealer's Google Places page. And they changed the way the 3rd party (anything that is NOT Google)reviews appears on your Google Places page.

 

Changes with Google is nothing new - they have an end game in mind like every business and that is to make money. They have changed the game so they can make more of it (even if it is indirectly) by pushing more people through the Google funnel. You'd do the same thing if you could.

 

From a blog of a Google Director of Product Management yesterday

"Beyond today’s transition, our long-term vision for local search includes:
Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places -- because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful; Integrating some of the great information that’s been buried on Place pages into your web search experience across all Google platforms; Giving you more ways to rate, discover and share places you love faster and easier than ever, wherever you are, and on whichever device you choose."

 

You can read the full blog post here that details more of their plan.

 

What does it mean for you? It still means that your online reputation is important, that fact didn't change! It still means you can't rely on any one single mindset or approach to your solve your SEO or reputation management concerns. It still means that page one is still extremely important real estate to own on any SERPs.

 

As much as you might not like it, you don't own Google, you can't control Google and they will continue to make changes. Just don't lose sight of the key concept online - how can you be seen where your customers are browsing.

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Tags: google, google places, reputation management, stars

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Comment by Kathi Kruse on July 22, 2011 at 9:11pm
Thanks for the post Harlene. It's pretty significant for those of us in Social.  I have a friend at Google research who told me 3 months ago that something like this was coming.  I agree about not losing the concept here--BE WHERE YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE.  In some ways I like it because some of the 3rd party ratings sites were pushing 5-star reviews like cocaine on an urban downtown corner.  I always like it when things get more transparent and authentic--it fosters deeper trust and customer are demanding it.

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