Yelp Unlikely To Come Back To Google Places

Earlier today it was reported that Yelp’s content had been removed from Google Places — though not from Google.com results. What’s going on exactly? Here’s Google’s  public statement about it:

“Place pages organize relevant information about a wide range of places and locations, and they surface great sources of information like reviews and photos about ‘places’ ranging from restaurants to parks to landmarks to cities.

Regarding the presentation of Yelp review snippets, neither of us was happy with the data as it appeared, so we reclassified results from Yelp while we reviewed our options.  This means that, for the time being, Yelp pages may not appear as review snippets in Place page results, though relevant results from Yelp will continue appear in the “more about this place” section, which shows  pages about a given location. We are working with Yelp to more intelligently crawl and present results from their site.”

Yelp had a formal syndication relationship with Google that ended in 2006. Some months after Place Pages launched, however, Yelp’s reviews content began to appear on them. Yelp discovered this and was not pleased.

That displeasure was in evidence during an on-stage recent conference interview involving Google’s John Hanke and Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppelman:

Stoppelman took some of the bait and argued that  Google needs to be “smart” about “preserving the ecosystem” and balancing between its own properties (i.e., Places) and sending people to the “best place on the web for users to go,” for local content (Stoppelman was referring to Yelp of course).

Hanke countered, “We want people to find what they want. We’re going to present the best places from various sources.”

That expression of displeasure by Yelp resulted in a conversation between the companies that now has prompted the removal of the Yelp content from Place Pages. Yelp still very much wants to be in Google.com results, however.

What’s the distinction? Review links from Place Pages go directly to third party publisher sites. Wouldn’t Yelp equally welcome that traffic?

Yelp considers Place Pages (and Google’s Local-Mobile apps such as Places) to be directly competitive. Links in SERP results on Google are not. Google Place Pages seek to help users do what Yelp is equally trying to do: enable consumers to make buying decisions about local businesses. Google.com results arguably don’t give people enough information to compare businesses or make a local buying decision. Yet that’s the direction they seem to be moving.

Given all this, it’s extremely unlikely that Yelp content will be returning to Google Place Pages in the future.


About The Author

Greg Sterling
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.