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When Did Search Engine Visibility Become a Bad Thing?

Yelp Not Happy With High Level of Google Exposure?

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Google and Yelp have had some issues for sometime, following a failed acquisition attempt, but it’s rare that the tensions between the two companies are aired for an audience. That is just what happened at TechCrunch’s Social Currency Crunchup event.

Would you be happy with the level of Google visiblity Yelp gets? Let us know.

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Google VP of Product Management John Hanke shared a stage and talked a bit about their situation. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler shares his account of the experience here. Essentially, what it boils down to is that Yelp isn’t thrilled with Google showing its content on Google Places, which the company is heavily pushing these days. Yelp accounts for a significant amount of the information Google shows on its Place pages. Siegler writes:

Yelp can’t like that too much. In fact, we’ve heard they’re particularly unhappy because they used to have a deal with Google for this data, but they pulled out of that deal a couple years ago. But Google decided to use Yelp’s data anyway simply by crawling it. Yelp can’t stop them from doing that unless they want to delist themselves from Google — a move which could kill them.

In my experience, Google Place Pages do offer a lot of Yelp content, but they also offer reviews from other sources like Urbanspoon, Citysearch, etc. Furthermore, they link to the content. If a user wants to see the full Yelp content for that listing, they have to clickthrough to Yelp.

Google Place Pages showing Yelp listings

This appears to be just another version of the ongoing Google News/aggregation argument. People that may have gone to Yelp before, may go to Google Place Pages and see a wider variety of review content, but Google Place Pages might also send more people to Yelp that otherwise would not have gone. Not everyone is a Yelp user. Google has a LOT of users, many of which search for local businesses all of the time.

Yelp has a solid selection of mobile offerings, including apps for BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, and Palm Pre, as well as the Yelp mobile site at m.yelp.com. Yelp should focus on improving its own service and promoting those improvements as well as the use of its mobile apps. If Yelp wants consumers to go to Yelp before Google, they need to convince people to get their mobile apps on their home screens.

As for the non-mobile web, perhaps Yelp should focus on a similar strategy through social media, browser plug-ins, etc. (not that they’re not doing this). They need to convince people that they should be the go-to place.  So far, Yelp has done a pretty good job. It’s got a solid user base and brand recognition. It seems to me that Google exposure would only add to this, and should be embraced. Yelp is in the top ten organic listings on Google for almost every local review query I enter. They’re doing something right.

Google has always maintained its goal is to show users the best content, and Yelp should feel privileged that it is held in that regard. That could change. The space Yelp operates in will only get more crowded with mobile apps, especially with the whole check-in app boom (which Google is also placing more focus on , I might add).  A lot of content providers (and Yelp competitors) would probably kill to get the Google exposure they do.

Local Businesses Pay Attention

It’s important for businesses to understand that Google Places is making it harder to hide from a bad reputation. Place Pages are bringing in reviews from Yelp and a variety of other places, and keeping putting them in the spotlight. Keep an eye on them.

Place Pages offer some pretty useful tools for businesses, and Google is continuously making changes. For example, earlier this year, Google let businesses start instantly posting data to their pages, allowing for the addition of updates, coupons, announcements, etc. This can be incredibly useful for attracting customers based on timely deals (especially in the age of Groupon).

Tag Advertising is another example. This lets businesses pay to use tags to highlight their listings on Google Maps. They also offer customized QR Codes.

It’s also important for businesses to take note of the increased focus Google is putting on Place Pages. The newest version of Google Maps for Android lets people put a Places icon right on their home screen (separate from the regular Google Maps icon), for all intents and purposes, turning Places into its own app (another reason why Yelp needs to focus on selling its mobile apps to consumers). Android sales have been skyrocketing, by the way.

How important do you consider Google Places to your business? Comment here.

When Did Search Engine Visibility Become a Bad Thing?
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  • Adsense Publisher

    If this sends more traffic to a site, how could it be a negative?
    We sometimes have our site listed in the results of a Google place page.
    I couldn’t be happier if more links showed up there.

  • Guest

    And we all know that scraper sites are evil. Unless, of course, it is Google doing the scraping.

    “Don’t do as I, do, do as I say…”

    • http://filequake.com Guest

      What are you talking about? Google scraps the contents of the entire web daily, it’s then shown in their search results. Are you really trying to tell me that they’ve just begun “scraping” to show user reviews of businesses from other sources? If you search in the normal search, all you see is scrapings from other sites, which you can then click through to. Exactly the same as the Places thing now… Except now people can also post their review directly on the places page too.

  • nicksix

    If they don’t like the traffic or exposure given then i may know a few thousand webmasters (give or take a few) who would be happy for it!

  • Guest

    Everyone needs to start focussing on a solution rather than hype, like how do we get rid of Google and the pollution that it has incited?

    See the real story at http://www.addmine.com

  • http://www.bestvibes.ca SexyShopGal

    I can see the issue I guess… less people need to visit yelp and view their ads as a result of google taking their reviews for free and showing their own ads. I guess there is also the issue of why leave a site that has everything like google for a specialty site that is harder to navigate…

    • Chris Crum

      It seems to me that Google typically doesn’t show the whole review and links out to Yelp. They provide headlines/snippets like other search results.

  • http://www.ukrbiz.info Viktor

    The yelp . com and .ca have no international interest and this is the biggest issue when it comes to searching for information. The google on other hand has its service present in most country of the World.

    • Nicole

      Actually, Yelp is now in Canada, the UK, France and Germany! And I highly doubt their borders end there…won’t be long till they have presence in every foreign market–watch out Google Places, you’re goin down!

      • http://pulledin.com Cameron Kuc

        I doubt Google Places is going down because of Yelp, they both have a place, and both have great reasons for users and businesses alike to use them.

  • http://esquire.co.in dinesh

    Esquire has been working in the shipping & logistics domain since its inception. Esquire has started looking forward to be a niche IT solution provider to the global shipping & cargo industry. Esquire

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com Simply Clicks

    Seems that Google can build a business then tear it down by imitation or exclusion from the results. Look at all the travel comparison websites now running scared of Google’s ITA purchase.

    Google’s results give you exposure. But in an environment they control. In many respects if you’re too successful you invite a Trojan horse effect.

  • http://www.PowerOfDNA.com Charles

    As I understand, Yelp have very good traffic exposure !! They need to place less ads on the Internet now. Every website would like to be raked in Google for their content. In addition Google brings the people exactly at the proper place on Yelp website depending on their keyword research. This is all very good.

  • http://africatopforum.com africatopforum

    It seems that the company is getting enough traffic hence this post.
    Well, let google send this traffic to those who will appreciate it.

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