Google Weathers Yelp's Whining Over Local Search Placement
You're going to have to excuse me on this post because it underscores how much I feel the little guys who suck from the Google teat doth protest too much, but...
I read a bunch of coverage about how Yelp feels Google gave it an ultimatum with regard to its placement on the not-quite-excellent (but getting there) Google Places local search Website.
I couldn't disagree more with the company's take as CEO Jeremy Stoppleman reportedly told The Telegraph:
We are unhappy with the way Google uses our users' reviews on its Places page. However, there is no solution to the problem... Google's position is that we can take ourselves out of its search index if we don't want them to use our reviews on Places.... But that is not an option for us, and other sites like us--such as TripAdvisor--as we get a large volume of our traffic via Google search...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.
Yelp reviews are indexed regularly on Google Places. I see them and click on them when searching for local restaurant and other shop reviews. I appreciate how Google aggregates these results from Yelp, TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon and other local search destinations.
I can pick the one that appeals to me. Sometimes, it's Google's Hotpot recommendations; sometimes, it's Yelp and others.
I'm not a math or stats whiz, but isn't some traffic better than zero traffic? Yelp is still getting millions of referrals a month from Google. Yelp would get zero value if it took itself out of Google's search index, right? In that vein, Stoppelman is correct: Absenting his company from Google really isn't a good idea.
Where he's not correct is, acting entitled to the millions of referrals his company doesn't pay for.
ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick has a similar perspective on this situation, noting that Stoppelman is "apparently ungrateful for what he must consider a Natural Right, to have his information organized ala Google at no cost." LOL.
Kirkpatrick then points out the glaring irony that The Telegraph presented when it quoted Stoppelman:
We are getting to the size where very few companies can afford to buy us. Our annual revenues are getting to the point where can be a public company....from our perspective that would be a hell of a lot more fun than selling Yelp.
To wit, Google Places is hurting Yelp's business so terribly that the local review provider is preparing to go public. This made me wince. Stoppelman aimed, fired and shot himself in the foot.
As you might imagine, then, I hold vertical search engines that complain Google is tamping down their traffic in a similar light. This includes the Foundems, Ciaos and 1plusVs who complain Google is favoring its own services over theirs.
These are niche companies who need the visibility Google affords them because consumers don't know about them, but it's not Google's responsibility to place them high up in its results. These companies need to prove they're worth it, and they haven't.
These companies are getting free traffic from Google, but they're suing because they allege Google is monkeying with their results.
And then there are the content farms, whose lousy content Google is downplaying in its results. These companies are whining, too.
This is largely Google's fault. The company got too darn big and masterful at trolling the Web, attached advertising to it and became a huge money machine no one but the bullet-proof social juggernaut Facebook can afford to ignore.
Smaller Internet companies can't ignore Google because it provides both the Web's greatest advertising platform to help companies get discovered, and it's the best source for generating more business via advertising.
So excuse me if I don't get misty-eyed over the plight of Yelp, smaller search engines few people use and content farms whose content more often than not sucks.