Google kills 95% of your Google Places hotel reviews. What does it mean for SEO?

2 blog posts in one day! No we haven’t gone mad… yet. We just thought that you all should see this news as soon as possible.

In the last few hours Google has changed their algorithm that pulls in review numbers. Previously when you searched for a hotel, let’s say in Chattanooga TN, you were shown a count of reviews box to the right of each search result that numbered in the hundreds or even thousands for 1st page GP results. This was because Google pulled the reviews from a number of different sources to build the cumulative count of reviews. However, now Google shows an extremely low number. Why?





The review number for this hotel is now, just 15. Previously for the Chattanoogan this figure was in excess of  200 reviews ( Tripadvisor + + yahoo etc. etc.). This change may have a close correlation with the gaining traction of Google +1. Google wants its active members to get involved and have the main say behind review results.

So what is the impact hotel and other industry local SEO effort? The number of Google Places reviews (and their quality) will likely have a huge say in future SERP rankings. For instance my search above ranks the hotels almost perfectly in review number order – 32, 15, 4 & 5.

So what’s your follow up question to that? Hands up please… That’s right… How do we get more Google reviews? Thats something that agencies and clients need to think about and resolve before Google leaves them behind.

  • Tom Dibble

    I figured this would happen at some point in the future but not so soon.  What makes this interesting is that they did it so soon after the launch of +1 and seeming lack of contribution from the Google user base with their review volumes.  The latter to me speaks to the influence that +1 will have on brands and content in the coming months. This is either a “oops” mistake on G’s part and since we seem to have found it first, it will be interesting to see if it’s rolled back or not.  If it isn’t, best start getting those +1’s going and GReviews generated!

  • Matt Chantry

    Looks like its a permanent change. Here’s a quote from G themselves on the news: “Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we’ve heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages.”

  • Tom Dibble

    Feels kinda good to be the first to have broken this news it seems on the dub dub dub.

  • Linkbuildr

    I was thinking this wouldn’t have taken place so quickly either…crazy! I’ve been seeing the +1’d content in my SERPs in Canada, so they’re definitely quick to get the influences going.

  • Cheap seo

    Its look like a permanent change and i am sure business owners going to get real reviews from owner.The interesting fact here ,The customers can write anything in the review.I hope you guys understood what I mean . So let us see what google is going to do this year.Watching more changes from Google God.

  • Tellus Self Storage

    Crazy stuff, why did they remove the ‘Details’ section from Places?? It seems like that would add to the users experience, now our customers are left guessing what our business does.

  • Anonymous

     I think it is safe to say now (in February of 2012)  that the emergence of Google + is without question, the reason behind the dropping of citation visibility and links from Google Places.

    It makes perfect sense when you consider how badly Google has screwed up in its past forays into the social media scene. It now realises that user-engagement is a wonderful thing – especially if you control it!

    Mind you, it doesn’t stop the spamming activity that was rife with so-called “customer reviews”. As an industry participant (in the SEO industry) I have lost count of the amount of offers I used to received from third-world SEO sweat shops “to create customer citations on Yelp” for me! While that opportunity has disappeared, it still doesn’t stop those same individuals from creating “Google-User” reviews on Google+ (via VPN proxies).

    On balance though, I am in favour of the dropping of the “user reviews” from Google Places – they just seemed to lack integrity in too many cases.