Google Places has stripped the third-party reviews of Yelp, TripAdvisor and others from the local search listings consumers find via searches on Google Maps.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has removed snippets of reviews published
on third-party local search rivals from its Google Places local search product,
a move that could boost the company's argument that it doesn't violate
There is quite a back story to this move. Google in April
retooled its Local Business Center search service, which lists millions of businesses as Google Places
the service with snippets of content from Yelp, TripAdvisor,
CitySearch and other local search providers. Users may search for local
business info by typing in names of those establishments on Google Maps.
Within months, the company began receiving complaints
about the way it rendered reviews and ratings from these third-party providers.
TripAdvisor in December 2010 briefly blocked its reviews from appearing on
Google Places, but quickly restored the access.
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman said in March 2011
"We just don't get any value out of our reviews
appearing on Google places and haven't been given an option other than to
remove ourselves from search, how to improve this situation."
Google argued that it was fairly surfacing content from
other Web services for the good of consumers, as well as third parties. Yet even
after Yelp, TripAdvisor and others complained
that Google is unfairly using their
work, these smaller services alleged Google surfaces links to Google Places above
links to their own services.
These same gripes and the executives issuing them are now
fodder for antitrust inquiry the Federal Trade Commission is making into
Google's search business.
To wit, Google has now put the kibosh on review blurbs
from its smaller rivals. Avni Shah, director of product management for Google,
didn't mention the FTC inquiry or competitor complaints in a blog post, opting
to paint the move as geared toward best serving consumers:
on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we've
heard over the past few months, review snippets from other Web sources have now
been removed from Place pages," Shah wrote July 21
however, continue to provide links to Yelp, CitySearch
and other third-party
Google is opting to use the rating and reviews its own Honeypot
recommendation engine has culled from users, which could one day lend
credence to the notion that it favors its own services. Google, of
course, built the recommendation engine so it wouldn't have to rely on
facilitate recommendation sharing, Google added a Write a review button to the
top of the Place page to encourage users to comment about restaurants, museums
and other businesses they've visited.
something of a Catch-22; companies aren't happy with Google profiting from
their work, but they don't want to be shut out of the leading search engine
either. It will be interesting to see how the companies and the FTC respond.
In the meantime,
Shah pledged Google will bring users more
personalized results in local search; integrate Place pages in users' search across
all Google platforms; and create more ways for users to rate, discover and
share places on any device.
The Wall Street Journal
has more details on this development.