Google Places Removes External Reviews

Google Places Removes Reviews

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Google has removed the reviews from the Google Places listings which were being scraped from other review sites like,, etc.  For now, at least, Google will only be displaying the reviews people have left on the actual Google Places listings.  Instead of showing the reviews from other sites, Google will have links after the Google Places reviews which link to other sites with reviews for the organization.

Stop Stealing Our Content!
This all started a while back when several sites started complaining the Google was building it’s local search and review platform on the backs of existing local review sites like Yelp, Citysearch and others.  Instead of relying solely on it’s own content and database (as the other companies had to do), Google was creating new listings based on the listing information on these other sites as well as pulling content, such as reviews, from these other sites.  These other companies didn’t think that was fair and so they started making noise.

Then the US Federal government got involved and their Anti-Trust guys started investigating Google.  Shortly after, Google announces they are dropping the other sites reviews in Google Places.

But Hold On a Second…
hold itWhile Google has removed the reviews in Google Places, it has not removed the reviews from Google Maps, at least not as of the writing of this post.  When I did a search in Google Maps for churches in the Tampa area, I saw several listings with external reviews.  When I clicked through to their Places page, however, the only reviews listed were the actual Google Places reviews.  In a recent note to The Chronicle, Yelp VP Vince Sollitto said he suspects that Google was also still using their listings to generate new listings in Google.

So, this isn’t over yet.  We may very well see additional changes to Google as these other local listing/review companies caterwaul about what they consider unfair practices and the fed gov looks into possible anti-trust violations.

Effects on SEO?
So far there does not appear to be any effect on SEO.  Positive reviews all around the web are still something to pursue both for ranking purposes as well as encouraging people to connect with your organization.  Since Google is still linking to the external reviews and those links also include the number of reviews on those other sites, it’s clear Google is still tracking that data.

Google may eventually drop the external reviews in Google Maps and even stop generating new listings from the listings of other sites, but I’m highly doubtful Google will stop using the listings and reviews from those other sites in their local search ranking algorithm.  It would almost be like expecting Google to stop using links from sites in their algorithm.  It isn’t going to happen.

Photo by shoothead

What do you think?

Do you think it was unfair for Google to use the reviews from other sites?

Do you think Google will make more changes?

Do you think any of these changes will have an effect on SEO?

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