Place Pages on Google Maps continue to get richer and some wonder if that could come at the cost of Yelp and other local search and ratings engines.
On Dec. 15, Google added a new feature to let users rank characteristics and services of businesses on their Place Pages, which already offer reviews.
It crawls the Web for what people are saying about the eatery on TripAdvisor, Citysearch and Urbanspoon, all credible sources of ratings:
Click on the plus signs and the comments and ratings options expand like so:
Why offer this on top of reviews? These are short, Twitter-like comments that could help in your decision planning. You might not even need to read reviews, though you could click on the source links to see the full reviews from whence the comments came.
Andrew McCarthy and Diego Nogueira, of Google's Local Search team, wrote:
"In order to help you find the best of what people are saying, we've improved our ability to find reviews of places, searching more quality sources of information from across the web. We look for pages that talk about particular places and analyze content on those pages that express a sentiment (i.e., a positive or negative comment) about that place. We display snippets of the sentiment to help you discover the best sources of information about the specific topic of interest."
A nice little feature add, and Search Engine Land notes that Bing and Yahoo offer similar perks.
But this is Google, where most people go to search. If I were Yelp I'd be nervous. Heck, if I ran any small Web business, I'd be nervous. Google is quickly becoming the Wal-Mart of the Web, where you can not only find anything indexed online, but read anything about anything.
In a lesser perk, Google is letting Maps searchers learn more about local places on Google Maps without clicking on them. Google Maps Software Engineer Michael BÃ¼rge wrote:
"Sometimes you may realize that one of the dots seems to be in the exact spot you'd like to go. We've now added the ability to hover over items on the map to quickly get more information about a place without clicking."
Put your mouse over the dots and you'll see a snippet of info that may help you decide if you want to click to find more info about the place. This way you don't go click crazy. See Google's example for "blueberry pancakes in San Francisco":
Nothing major, but a nice efficiency perk.