Google merged Google Places into their social network Google Plus. Yes, it makes sense. It does make sense to involve people into the places since people are spending more and more time on social networks. As we read this, Google Chrome has already surpassed Internet Explorer as the world's most popular browser. With 97% of people already searching for local businesses, was Google after the remaining few percentages of people? No. This is just a move forward in how social networks are going to be in future--a single place for us to hang out, chat, call, shop, entertain ourselves--all from at the press of a button called Google on our desktops!
Back to the topic at hand--It is clear that word of mouth A.K.A online reviews are becoming more and more important to make shopping easier for buyers. Local business reviews scene has exploded (with even fake posters and companies who sell such services). Google has taken this seriously and hence they bought Zagat to improve their overall reviews and ratings system. Yes, it has taken away some of the good's like 5 stars, which were easy to spot and pleasing to the eyes, but things change for better.
Few reasons why the new reviews system is better:
1) New reviews and rating system gives user more insights into experience of other customers with the business, simply because their review system has more factors.
2) There is less chance of reviewer being fake since everybody needs to be on social network
3) Ratings are more important now. As pointed out in the summary in the pic, ratings are clearly indicated as bad, good or excellent.
4) Reviews by more frequent reviewers (or the top reviewers) will be given more value now. How much exactly ? We do not know, and what exactly does this mean in terms of direction of reviews and ratings remains to be seen.
5) Now the pricing info also shows up right next to the reviews for restaurants. For me, overall price is a big factor in purchase decision, and hence this new element to review is going to be very important.
Forming communities of customers is a way forward. Having customers connected to you is the best way to market your business. More customers who are ready to write good reviews for you, the more business you will get online. We will keep you posted on more about the new reviews and rating system.