Recent updates: A- the new call to action button for "Write a Review" (previously just a click on the stars to review) B - Upload a photo C - Best Ever Award
What does Upload a Photo mean for local search?
User generated content is what this means. And the search engines love user generated content. Getting photos up for your business by users will in my opinion become a trust factor. And when they assign a trust factor you can bet they are assigning a ranking factor. In fact, it seems that geo tagged photos associated with a business have actually helped some restaurants over come the centroid bias. Sadly this also means competition for business owners. Competition to keep user photos from out ranking the business owner photos. Take the place pages of this Seattle Conference Center (place rank E). This Seattle Conference Center has only one image from the owner showing on their places page. The other images have taken over the owner's images. As marketers, this may end up being a problem.
How do you get a Best Ever Badge in Google Places?
Best Ever Badges are an integration from Hot Pot. In order to get a Best Ever Badge the review must come from Hot Pot, and the reviewer must mark it Best Ever.
This most likely will not directly impact place rank. This may have some impact on conversions, but I believe that impact to be negligible. It seems highly unlikely that the small badge at the top of the place page is going to draw much attention. It does draw a bit more attention in the actual review section, but again, it's just a little bit of sugar that won't make or break local SEO. I highly doubt that someone would do business with a pest control company simply because of a BEST EVER badge in Google Places. And I don't think an exterminator that does not have a best ever badge is going to loose customers for not having it.
The Liked / Disliked Add on
Another transplant from Hot Pot in to Google is the addition of the liked disliked faces.
I believe this will be a very valuable addition. Someone may give a restaurant 5 starts but still not like the prices. Like so:
Overall, this is a good move toward improving Google Places reviews. Once a user is trained to look for the Liked/Disliked section, they can see at a glance if the value, service, or other attribute of a company was liked or disliked. More importantly, a Google Places user may see a pattern that is not so obvious through the traditional star rating system; perhaps a company provides great service but the value of the service is questionable due to the cost. On the other hand, perhaps a company doesnt have friendly employees but provides the service at such a great price that it is worth ignoring the employees. When a customer is leaving a 5 star review, is it because they are doing an exceptional job or because they did the job so inexpensively. With two easy clicks of the mouse, a reviewer can qualify his or her review and make it much more useful for the end user.
That's the Local update from your neighborhood pest control guy. Follow me on twitter @Thos003 for more shenanigans.