Google+ Local and a Big Change for Google Places Ratings

Many of you may have noticed the addition of a new link on Google’s homepage (our apologies if it’s still not there when reading this).

It’s Google+ Local a place to “discover places with the help of people you know.

So What Is Google+ Local?

You may or may not remember that Google bought the restaurant guide Zagat last fall. Well Google+ Places just so happens to include Zagat reviews! Traditional Google Places reviews are also included, but it’s interesting to see how prominently the Zagat ratings are featured. Excerpts of the Zagat reviews are also featured quite prominently.

Google+ Places does not come without eye candy. Your default recommended Places come with a slick scroller. Let say you search for sushi, as you scroll down and view different options, the marker on the Google map will follow you along, letting you know exactly where your next potential meal is located.

Google Places Ratings Scale Have Changed

When available Zagat ratings are featured most prominently, with the number of Google Places reviews placed alongside. Interestingly GOOGLE PLACES REVIEWS ARE NO LONGER OUT OF 5 STARS!  The new rating will be on a scale of 0 to 4 and for restaurants/tourism related business ratings you will be able to rate Food, Decor, and Service on a scale of 0 to 4.

For existing individual reviews, we’ve been able to determine that 1 star reviews will be translated to a 0 out of 4 rating and 4 out of 5 star reviews become a 2 on a 0 to 4 scale.

This is a significant change! What’s also significant is that scores are averaged now. From Google:

“Averaged scores are calculated on a 30-point scale based on user reviews.

26 – 30 Extraordinary to Perfection
21 – 25 Very Good to Excellent
16 – 20 Good to Very Good
11 – 15 Fair to Good
0 – 10 Poor to Fair”
We’ll see how this plays out, perhaps ratings from users with greater history will carry more weight and how long will reviews stay relevant? Only time will tell. The changes likely have many people wondering how to get Google Places reviews.


I’m the SEO Director at TechWyse. I’ve been published in Moz, I love headphones and all things internet marketing. I hang out on the conceptual side of SEO and it’s a blast! Please find me on Twitter @StrategyInventr I'd love to connect with you!

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  • avatar

    As a business owner I am very unhappy with it. We work hard at making our customers happy and getting them to leave reviews for us. The star system made much more sense for your average person to understand, especially since that is what people were used to. It really helped us be set apart from some of the competition. Now when you look at it you see some number there that really does not mean a lot to most people. There goes all our hard work. Thank a lot Google, I guess you will always find some kind of way to force us to pay for adwords.

    • avatar

      You’re definitely not alone in feeling this way about the rating system. The new ratings seem odd. Without taking the time to investigate, many people won’t realize that a 30 is a perfect score. It seems like Google would rather adopt Zagat’s review system than the other way around. It also makes it reviewing more difficult as people will now need a Google+ profile to rate you. It will be interesting to see if Google listens to the backlash that these changes have brought on.


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