No more Red Pins
It is being widely talked about on SEO blogs about the test layout that Google is spreading around. Perhaps you have seen a version of this floating around your local searches. There are a lot of ideas as to what Google has up it’s sleave such as paying for the Red Pin to appear. I’m not sure I subscribe to that theory since Google for a while has been showing a blue pin for Adwords Express adds that appear on the map. It would make more sense to grey out the red pins so that the blue pins stand out more, which actually isn’t a bad hypothesis.
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
However, if I were a betting man, which I am, then I would put my money on Google wanting to highlight the yellow stars for reviews. Take a look at the picture above and what immediately stands out to you. Look at it a few times. I for one didn’t even notice the lack of red pins until about the 3rd glance. In fact this was the first time I have seen this layout live in the Jacksonville area. Up until this point I have only read about it on various blogs.
If you take the various Google design changes such as the changes to Google Places and Gmail recently you will notice it’s a “less is more” mentality. Various areas are muted which make the areas that Google wants to be more prominent stick out such as Compose, and Search in the new Gmail layout. The new Google Places layout features the Review button above all else.
I believe the changing of the red pins to grey to be in keeping with these design changes. It is my opinion that Google wants to draw your eye to the reviews so that you will read the reviews thereby increasing the chances that users will leave a review. Think about it. How many of us read reviews before we make our decision? I know I do. Given the fact that Google has added +1 to websites and even adsense along with the recent Google Places changes it’s a fairly easy conclusion to draw that Google wants to incorporate more social signals into their Search Algorithm. This to me is the single best explanation of what is going on with all the layout changes. Want to know where Google is going? Take a look at what stands out on their pages and the road map becomes clear. Can I get a +1 anyone?
Where did the Red go?
If you find yourself missing all the Red from the pins, then you won’t have to look too far to find it . All my money is on Red!