Recommendations and ratings have long been an important part of Facebook, but recent updates have made them even more prominent. Graph Search, for example, now displays the amount of stars friends have rated a particular place, making a good rating more important than ever.

Some businesses might start seeing more frequent fluctuations in their ratings as a result of Facebook’s latest test. The social network is now including an option for members to give star ratings to businesses and locations directly from their page on the website, regardless of whether they’ve been there.

Previously, individuals could only rate places from the Local Search section of the mobile app, and only if they’ve checked in or had been tagged there. Facebook would also occasionally use a sidebar prompt to encourage ratings; however, there wasn’t a way for people to rate any place at any time until recently.

While the latest test enables consumers to go back and rate places they might have forgotten to check in to, it also gives them an easier way to change their rating. This option was previously available through the Activity Log, but sifting through other actions may have deterred some from making any adjustments to past scores.

Now that people can give any location a rating, it could also lead to manipulation, which became a problem with app ratings in the past. Facebook removed app reviews and ratings when manipulation made them no longer useful. They were later reintroduced through random samplings and other controlled rollouts.

As Facebook moves toward a local search and entertainment discovery platform, it’s possible that these ratings could begin to influence things like Graph Search and News Feed distribution. Facebook said it will continue to track engagement on place ratings to find ways to improve them over time.

[Via: Inside Facebook, Image credit: Clarissa de Wet]