Google is now including reviews from more sources on its Place Pages for businesses. They're no longer coming from just review sites. They're coming from news sites, blogs, and more.
Mike Blumenthal, who writes for the Understanding Google Maps & Local Search blog, has an in depth analysis of this change and received confirmation on its existence from Google Maps Product Manager Carter Maslan.
"This change portends a dramatically changed review landscape where both the volume of reviews for some types of businesses will rise and the dynamics of reputation management will change. It could very well shift the balance of power away from centralized review sites and could be one more impediment to any recovery of the IYP sites," says Blumenthal.
"Google Maps is now using the new capability of sentiment analysis to better understand content and add 'reviews' from non traditional sources like newspaper articles and single blog entries that appear across the internet," he says. "This new capability will dramatically increase the reach of hyperlocal blogs, change how businesses manage the review process and could, over the long haul, change how and where reviews are generated and aggregated."
It is not particularly surprising that Google would reach to more sources for review-like content on Place Pages. Considering the breadth of information Google indexes, it seems fairly obvious that when Google brings together information about a business it would pull from a wide variety of sources.
Blumenthal is right in that this highlights a possible need for some reputation management adjustments for businesses. However, it doesn't seem like anything alerts won't be able to help you keep track of, and you should probably be using those anyway if you are concerned about maintaining a good online reputation (which can increasingly affect your offlline reputation).
Provided that they offer customers a positive experience, Google's inclusion of more sources in Place Pages could work to the benefit of businesses. It's hard to earn a good reputation if you don't deliver something positive to begin with. These new additions should only make it harder to hide from a bad reputation.