So Google missed out on getting local deal provider Groupon one week ago today. I submitted that this was a good thing because of the price tag, but things can change.
This week word came from Tnooz that TripAdvisor was blocking its reviews from appearing on Google Places, where content from Priceline.com, UrbanSpoon, CitySearch and other local search content has been indexed for users to see in Google and Google Maps searches.
See no TripAdvisor in this search on Google Maps for hotels in New York:
TripAdvisor said that it believes the user does not benefit with the "experience of selecting the right hotel" via Places "As a result, we have currently limited TripAdvisor content available on those pages," the company told Tnooz.
This recalls what Yelp did back in August, blocking its own reviews and ratings from Google Places. As you can see, Yelp is now nestled in Google Places results after the companies resolved their differences.
Can you blame these startups?
Google is trying to eat their lunch with Place Pages, and it's new Place Search feature aims to aggregate all of the reviews and ratings in one spot.
Why would anyone keep going to TripAdvisor, Yelp, UrbanSpoon or anywhere else if Google aggregates all of the content on its own properties to benefit from the advertising?
Google's geo guru John Hanke told me last month the user wants the content to enrich their search experience.
Of this I have no doubt, but I also know that if users can see blurbs of this stuff on Google properties they may not need to click through to get to Yelp, etc.
So lets's play out the hypothetical string. If all of these local services decide to block Google in an informal united front (a formal one would be anticompetitive and illegal), it's certainly going to make Google Place pages more empty.
This would make Google's local efforts rather less social, the antithesis of the company's goal.
And that would certainly make Google's failure to buy Groupon all the more painful. First, the big one gets away and now all of the little fish are swimming away from Google.
That would pressure Google to build out its own ratings and reviews, or at least launch that delicious-seeming contextual search technology we're expecting in 2011.