New Google Places page emphasizes reviews

Google made a variety of alterations to its Places page this week in at attempt to increase personalization of local search results, Search Engine Land reports.

Because many users conducting a local search for a product, service or business may prefer recommendations from friends or people they know over random reviews, Google added a "Write a review" button at the top of the Places page. This ensures reviews from users with Google accounts show up prominently, while burying recommendations from third-party sites.

The company has also has also streamlined the page to more quickly get a sense for what other people are saying, made it easier to upload photos with an "Upload a photo" button and added the ability to see reviews all on the same page.

In addition, citations - which local SEO companies used for data mining - and review snippets have both been eliminated. These changes will likely have a significant effect on local SEO and the Google algorithm.

The Google Blog adds that the company's long-term vision for local search includes more personalized results, integration of Places page information into web searches and increasing the number of ways a user can rate, find and share places.