Yelp frequently complains about how Google treats it in search results, and recently became an official complainant in the EU's investigation into the search engine's business practices.
Meanwhile, Google appears to be giving Yelp an unprecedented amount of visibility in its search results.
For one, Google recently began rolling out an algorithm update for local search results, which takes into account more factors like its web search algorithm does. As a result, there has been quite a shake up in local listings for all types of business queries.
Also as a result, Google seems to be favoring Yelp content even more than it already was. Yelp has asserted that Google gives its own content preference over Yelp, even when users are looking for Yelp content, but Danny Sullivan did an excellent job of dismantling that theory, showing that Google strongly favors Yelp content for the very restaurant Yelp used as an example.
Now, after this recent algorithm update, Google has been found to have "fixed" the specific example Yelp was complaining about (and presumably many others like it).
But as if that wasn't enough, Yelp is pretty much dominating entire search results pages for various local queries. Mike Blumenthal points to a couple examples: "plumber san francisco" and "nail salon san francisco". Beyond ads from the businesses themselves and the actual local results, which point to the actual businesses, Yelp appears in nearly every page one organic result for these queries.
"Yelp is obviously very, very good with their SEO. They apparently have the ability to sculpt their internal link values to highlight what appear to be the most popular local businesses in the Google local results," writes Blumenthal. "Apparently their ability to do that in their strongest markets is even greater than elsewhere."
"They reflect on Yelp’s ability to manipulate the search results and reflect poorly on Google’s acceptance of those practices," he adds. "Yelp, though, needs to be careful of soiling the bed in which they sleep. Although I suppose they could fall back on their all too successful (but BS) cry wolf strategy if Google were to clamp down."
I don't know about Yelp, but most businesses would kill for that type of search visibility. Considering that loyal Yelp users are likely to just go to Yelp to find what they want, it's kind of insane how much Yelp is appearing in Google searches.
Images via Google