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Google Top Places List Out of Beta – Uses Machine Learning

Google’s Top Places List feature is officially out of beta. Google updated the Top Places developer page with new information indicating that the Top Places List feature is now automated by a machine learning algorithm.

What is Google Top Places List?

The Top Places List is a Google feature that displays related information about a specific place. If a restaurant is mentioned in several top ten type lists, Google will display that information so that users can learn more about that business.

Google Top Places List is Out of Beta

Google’s developer page for the Top Places List feature was updated on August 5, 2019.  The Top Places List developers page now indicates the use of machine learning to select the top places lists.

Previously there was no mention of using algorithms to select and display top places for display.

The page also used to host a link to a sign up page to have your list of top places included in the formerly beta program.

Screenshot of top places list sign up link

Top Places List Uses Machine Learning

The biggest change to the Google Top Places List feature is that it is now generated by a machine learning algorithm.

This is what the developer page used to say:

“The Google Top Places List displays themed lists from authoritative publishers so that users can browse through selections from a trusted source as they decide where to go.”

Now it mentions the use of machine learning:

“The Top Places List uses machine learning to display themed lists from authoritative publishers so that users can browse through selections from a trusted source as they decide where to go.”

Google Offers an Opt-out

The bottom of the developers page now offers small businesses the ability to opt-out of the Top Places List feature. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/3035947

However, it appears that choosing to opt out may keep you out of Google Local entirely, so that your business will not appear in any local searches.

This is what the opt out page says:

“You can opt out of having content that Google has crawled from your site displayed on various Google properties:

Google Shopping
Google Flights
Google Hotels
Google Local (specialized search results pages that trigger in response to a local query)”

Google’s Opt Out Page is Vague

There is nothing on that page about opting out of Top Places List. Clicking the “View or change” link button takes you to the search console where there is only a drop down of verified domains and a button that reads Opt Out.

Screenshot of Google Search Console Opt Out Page

It sure would be bad to click that button and have your site kicked out of Google. The page doesn’t inform the user what’s on the other side of that Opt Out button. It feels like clicking the Opt Out button will open trap door beneath your website from which it will never heard from again.

View an Archive.org snapshot of the original Top Places List beta page here.

Read the newly updated Top Places List developers page here.

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