Much has been written about what Google left out in the Places upgrade and much speculation has been offered as to the reasons for the change. The specualtion have often made the assumption that the new design was a reactive response on the part of Google.
After looking at a large number of pages, I would suggest that the changes were primarily proactive in a nature and design driven (did I just say design and Google in the same sentence?). To get a sense of Google’s intentions I looked at a number Places pages in a range of industries and states and captured a screen shot of the information above the fold on a typical size screen 1280 x 1024 screen to see exactly which objects and activities had been prioritized. I captured the same Places page on my iPhone for comparison.
We all know of the call to action for additional reviews and uploaded photos those were very obvious. However Google made a number of other decisions in terms of how to prioritize the information. Here is the slide show and I think you will find the choices made interesting and design driven. Click to start the slide show:
While Google may have left some things off in response to complaints about their use of 3rd party reviews, for the most part the changes are a conscious design effort to make Places more interactive, more current and more social and more transactional.
They include a strong call to action (review, upload photos) and clear sense of priorities as to what is important going forward – even coupons now have a higher visibility – more user generated content, more understanding of your social circles intent and a greater desire, at least in the hotel industry, to use Places to “close” the sale.
Bightlocal has released their findings from their Local Consumer Review Survey 2010, Part 3.
The survey highlights some interesting findings –
27% of consumers have recommended a local business on Facebook – rising to 32% in female consumers & also in younger consumers (aged 16-34)
Reliability, Professionalism & Friendliness are the most important traits that lead to a customer recommending a business
52% of customers would more likely to recommend a business if it had a good special offer.
40% of customers would be more likely to recommend a local business if they benefited directly
You should visit the site for all of the information but here are some of the highlights that interested me.
Which of these local business types have you/would you recommend to someone you know if you had a good or bad experience?
The types of businesses that are most frequently recommended are those that are most frequently used.
In the last 12 months have you recommended a local business to people you know by any of the following methods?
People are more lilkely to use word of mouth and Facebook to recommend local businesses than a review site.
Would you be more likely to recommend a local business to people you know if they had a good value offer or discount?
Folks are obviously motivated by self interest.
As Myles points out the things that people find important to recommend a business have always been the things that they have found important. A business should be friendly, professional and offer good value in the form of incentives.
But the survey raises the question of how, when and where a business should engage in the process and what value reviews have. Hopefully more on that tomorrow.
Google is working on social tools on a number of fronts more or less successfully. You can never count them out though when they are willing to bring the full weight of the front page of Google to the game.
It appears to me that eating, reviews and ratings are where they are really where they are making a stand and to do so they are driving traffic to Hotpot. Hotpot previously has been highlighted in Maps, Places and mobile.
What better way to incent Hotpot users than to show them, front and center, where their friends ate. What better way to create more Hotpot engagement and traffic than showing it on the front page of Google. Let the ego games begin.
Here is a screen shot of a branded Local Universal result where you can see the inclusion of Hotpot ratings:
- Google Hotpot – Yelp Meets Netflix in a Local Recommendation Engine
- Google Hotpot Recommendations Now Surfacing on Places Page and Maps
- Google Places: Are Ratings the New Reviews?