Third party reviews have been added to Google Maps. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that Google have allowed its users to review businesses.
Here is an example of our local coffee house across the road with a review I added.
E-consultancy question the importance of this change:
“But the extent to which users seeking businesses go to a maps site, rather than a dedicated listings directory like Yell, is open to question.”
In my mind though this is a significant, albeit predictable step. You have to ask how long it will be before the reviews are incorporated into other Google properties. Perhaps we might see “Google Reviews” incorporated in the main search results as part of universal search? How about a feature added to the Google tool bar?
The links for the reviews actually take quite a lot of effort to find, especially if you come in from the main Google search, so for the time being the visibility of the listings is pretty low.
No doubt they will improve this one day but it does seem to be yet another usability issue to add to the Google Maps list (such as lack of features on the maps, poor targeting of adverts and low relevance of listings in general).