It happened again – Google Places has changed. This time the shift coincided with the return of the lost descriptions (a Google Employee confirmed a few days ago that there was some special treatment in place regarding the listing descriptions). In addition, Google announced changes to the sitelinks. Currently, a branded search result might look like this:
Although Google claimed to be increasing the number of potential sitelinks to up to 12, it seems that currently the maximum sitelinks count for the branded one-box is 6. However, the visibility of pretty much anything else is greatly decreased.
Two other more minor cosmetic changes, which however could also provide some hint on what Google is “planning” for Google Places:
1) Renaming reviews on the result page to “Google reviews” and removing the links “Place page” and “Write a review” for the listings with “Google reviews”
2) Darkening the color of the “descriptive terms” on the Place page
While tagging reviews as “Google” ones (although they practically are not) is understandable, why Google removed the call to action snippet “Write a review” is obscure. The constant pushing of “descriptive terms”‘ visibility proceeds and I expect to soon start seeing them in the organic search results (they now appear on Google Maps and Google Places search, as well as on the Places pages themselves).