Google Recommends The Competition On Your Business Place Page

I’m scratching my head over this one: Google has added a new content block on place pages that, quite often, gives free advertising to a local business’s competition. It’s called “Nearby places you might like” and it appears below reviews on the place page; the content block will show up to ten recommended businesses — but sometimes less. At the moment, the place page for Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel shows only two nearby suggestions, but one of them is the bar at the W Hotel.

w-bar

Worse, consider the recommended businesses on this place page for Il Bistro, a restaurant in downtown Seattle:

google-local-recs

Six of the suggestions are restaurants, and two others are specialty food stores. Il Bistro went to the trouble of claiming its listing, adding extra business details, photos, and coupons, and Google “rewards” it by recommending six other restaurants. That’s surely not the kind of content Il Bistro wants on its place page. And I can’t imagine the Fairmont Hotel will be happy to discover that Google is recommending the W Hotel’s bar.

Google says it’s using “a broad set of signals” to determine what businesses to recommend, and the suggestions may or may not share any specific characteristics; i.e., restaurant place pages won’t necessarily show nearby restaurants … but Mike Blumenthal shows a jeweler’s place page that recommends a full 10 other jewelers.

Google pitches these nearby suggestions as a very user-friendly feature, but it’s certainly not business-friendly. Perhaps a compromise is in order, like showing nearby suggestions only on place pages that haven’t been claimed? If the business owner claims his/her Google local business listing, then no recommendations get added. How about it, Google?

Postscript From Danny Sullivan: Also see Is Google is Stealing Your Content and Hijacking Your Traffic on our Sphinn social news site. There’s a debate going over how much is too much in terms of what Google puts on these pages, from a business owner’s perspective.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Place Pages | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • ericking

    I like your idea of Google only showing nearby suggestions for businesses who have not claimed their listing. However, Google will probably take advantage of this as another revenue opportunity and, instead, charge businesses not to show nearby suggestions.

  • charliesaidthat

    I wonder wether they might introduce a paid option for businesses to prevent adverts?

    -also as a side note, you make it really quite hard for people to leave a comment. took me 5 minutes to get through your email system to log in. I get that you like having emails for marketing etc. But consider making the process a little easier if you would like comments and conversation here!!

  • http://www.semreportcard.com semreportcard

    The question is, does it improve the user (consumer) experience?

  • PortlandLocalSMaster

    I was waiting for someone to notice this! I noticed yesterday and was a little upset. They already allow ads for my competitors on my business profile. Is it really necessary to put my competitors right there on my page as well!? I’ve had so many problems with Google Maps already, this is just another annoyance to add to the list. For Google, they are really doing a horrible job with this product, It’s quite disappointing. They create such an amazing product, with so much potential, that so many people use, and then don’t take the time to fix any of the bugs or huge problems that people are having with it. For a search engine, they are doing a horrible job with aggregating the data and quality control over the listings. Then to top it off they have absolutely NO HELP SUPPORT for the product, seriously, try and get a hold of someone at Google to talk about maps, I dare you! Long story short, Google really needs to step it up and have some accountability for a product that millions of people use each day and fix bugs that are potentially costing businesses millions. Thank you Search Engine Land for letting me vent and to anyone who actually took the time to make it all the way through this novel of a comment.
    - and ps, I agree with Charliesaidthat, it was rather hard to create an account to leave a comment. Hope you guys can work that out for a better UE, but regardless I LOVE YOU GUYS and it was worth the 5 minutes it took, keep up the good work!

  • http://www.localprice.com robshields

    I think you are missing something here in your analysis: businesses like the ones you cited above benefit when they appear in the ‘Nearby places’ section of their competitors’ place pages. For instance, if you click on ‘Matt’s In the Market’ in the example above, you’ll notice that Il Bistro appears in the ‘Nearby places’ section. In this case, Il Bistro benefits from the feature.

    If you consider that, in addition to displaying many competing businesses on their places page, the business also appears in this same section for many of their competitors pages, this seems more like a wash to business. Clearly the consumer benefits from quickly being able to find similar businesses. So what’s the controversy about?

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