Featured Reviews in GMB Listings Now Based on Most-Mentioned Place Topics

Google appears to be rolling out changes to the featured review section of Google My Business listings to feature reviews for the most-mentioned Place Topics.



Place Topics

Previously, experts couldn’t determine why a review would be featured in the Business Profile. The featured reviews were often older and perhaps not representative of more recent and relevant customer experiences.

With this update, the featured reviews include the top terms mentioned by reviewers, giving searchers a snapshot of relevant customer experiences. A major upgrade for your listing.

Place Topics, launched in July 2019, uses machine learning to help customers understand the business’s review landscape at a glance. According to Google, Place Topics are only created when a business has enough customer reviews. Google does not specify what is enough.

Place Topics are visible in the Review summary section of the Business Profile in Google Maps and Google Search on both desktop and mobile.

In the Google Maps app, Google is also showing an italicized justification below the featured review that shows how many reviews mention that Place Topic (bolded keyword).

As mentioned above, this appears to still be rolling out but more than a test as it was working on 80% of the listings we checked. 

As a side note, if you’ve reviewed a business, you will likely see your own review included with those featured when viewing the business on that account. 

What’s Changing

There were no clear patterns or explanations for the reviews featured on business profiles ahead of this update and often businesses would ask how they could influence a change up. Business owners were left wondering why their listing featured a negative review while their competitor’s listing featured all 5-star reviews, or why, of all the reviews Google was featuring, did it have to include their one negative review?! With this update, business owners can have clarity about how their featured reviews are selected. 

Featured reviews cannot be manually updated and historically, it is not often updated even if a business consistently gets new reviews. In a recent test, Sterling Sky confirmed that upvoting a review does not promote it to the featured reviews section and Local Guide reviews don’t get favoured. 

This update seems to be following last week’s disappearance of some business profiles’ featured review content, as reported by Colan Nielsen. 

For several listings we tested, the featured reviews changed to the most-mentioned Place Topics structure in Google Search, but have not changed in Google Maps. For example, Whitespark’s Google My Business listing’s featured reviews are different on Search and Maps. On Search, the featured reviews follow the new most-mentioned Place Topics structure. But on Maps, the featured reviews have not changed. 



Right now, a business’s featured reviews may appear different to different users or in Incognito mode. 

This business’s featured review content was missing June 10, but still visible in Incognito.


Before Incognito

As of today, the featured reviews have changed to follow the most-mentioned Place Topics structure. 


Place Topics

For many businesses, reviewer photos are still missing. 

What This Means for Business Owners 

  1. If you don’t have the maximum of three featured reviews, it’s because you don’t have enough reviews. Look at competitors with featured reviews as a guideline and implement a review strategy today
  2. View your business live on Search and Maps to see changes to which reviews are being highlighted for potential customers. 
  3. Study your top Place Topics to better understand your customers’ experiences. 
  4. If there’s a Place Topic with fewer mentions that you would like featured on your listing, make an effort to collect more reviews mentioning that term. Check out our guide on how to get keywords in your reviews. We’re currently testing this strategy and will report back, but so far we know Place Topics aren’t updated in real-time.
  5. Keep in mind, you can’t just earn a Place Topic for any keyword by getting multiple reviewers to mention it – there’s some artificial intelligence involved. (We’ve seen Place Topics created for terms mentioned in as little as 3 reviews, while other terms mentioned in as many or more reviews do not generate a Place Topic).

Have you noticed a change in your feature reviews on your GMB listing? Do you think this is an improvement that will feature more relevant reviews, and will it be easier for businesses to influence what review content is featured in their Business Profile? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Allie Margeson

Allie been helping small business owners get the most bang for their marketing bucks since 2014. She loves the opportunities and challenges of local search marketing and Google Ads. She has a knack for helping busy entrepreneurs, owners and marketing managers understand the value of local search efforts, without all the jargon.

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