Reviews have disappeared and are not expected to return to Google+ Local business pages in the search giant’s newly introduced redesign of Google+.
According to Google community manager Elizabeth Powers, reviews will “no longer be shown on Google+ Pages in the new Google+ design.”
Writing in the Google My Business Advertiser community, after complaints were posted about missing reviews (as well as the missing option for customers to leave reviews), Powers added: “Reviews are still accessible on Google Search and Maps, which have always been the primary way that users find business reviews.”
Review management on Google moves out of Google+
Linda Buquet, community leader and Google Local specialist at the Local Search Forum, asserts that “not many” consumers were interested in reviews on Google+ business pages anyway.
“There may be a subtle underlying statement, something many of us have suspected (about reviews on Google+) for a long time,” she wrote. “In other words (my interpretation) not many people went to, looked at, or used Google+ Local pages. When they started showing reviews right in the overlay on search, there were less reasons to go to the page. Then when they removed all the links it was practically impossible for the average consumer to even find the page.”
“This move seems to signal that Google is giving up on efforts to encourage small businesses to create and maintain presences on Google+,” added Marketing Land’s Martin Beck in an analysis. “Management of directory listing information — including the ability to respond to reviews — is handled separately in Google My Business.”
The Google+ redesign focuses instead on Communities and Collections. Communities “average 1.2 million new joins per day” and Collections, which was only introduced by Google five months ago as a service for categorizing posts, photos, and videos by topic, has seen a steady rise in popularity.
Google+ has been estimated to have 300 million active users.
The new Google+ design is also less cluttered and loads faster than the previous version: signs that Google aims to deliver a more intuitive experience for users regardless of the sizes of their screens. The update is expected to be rolled out on iOS and Android within the next few days.
Google reviews no less important
Buquet emphasizes that it’s important for businesses to enter their data into Google My Business, and that online reviews are no less important than before. Business data and reviews will continue to be displayed on Search, the Local Finder, Google Maps and the Knowledge Graph.
Google My Business makes it easier for businesses to manage their local business information across of all Google’s platforms – including Google+ Local, Maps and Search. Online reviews are an important factor in search results and research has shown that a business needs at least four to five reviews to be found in Google search results. (You can check out our guide for claiming your business on Google using Google My Business. Be sure to get your business verified, too.)