Changes at Google Places – Emphasis on Reviews & Citations
For brick & mortar businesses and those that involve face to face customer contact, Google Places (and Yahoo Local and Bing Local) are important sources of traffic. These are the listings that show up next to a map of suitable matches.
Google Places is sporting a new look that also reflects changes in their approach. For example, there’s an increased emphasis on customer reviews. At the same time, Google will no longer re-post reviews from paces like Yelp as it did in the past. Instead, it will be emphasizing reviews from within Google Places itself — with two prominent red Write A Review buttons to encourage that. You can read more about this at Search Engine Land.
Citations are more important now than ever. Citations are mentions of a business, even if they don’t include a link. So in addition to the well-known positive effect of link popularity on your organic listings, non-linked citations can be especially helpful in your local listings.
Update Note: Google Places is now Google My Business and Bing Local is now Bing Places for Business.