Google is (Unfairly) Tilting the Playing Field in Their Favor Against Local Review Sites

How believable is the pagerank algorithm if the primary results are always Google destinations?

A Google screenshot.

Why would I want to click on Google’s reviews? There’s less of them.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Representatives of some large websites-including Yelp, TripAdvisor and WebMD-have complained that Google is attempting to draw more traffic to its new local-business, shopping and health sites, among others, by linking to Google pages above its natural search results. They say that practice gives Google an unfair advantage and siphons away Web traffic and ad dollars.

Google's Maslan said that when "someone searches for a place on Google, we still provide the usual web results linking to great sites; we simply organize those results around places to make it much faster to find what you're looking for."

He added that "at the end of the day, users come first. If we fail our users, competition is just a click away."

Note to Google: You’re failing the users.

Google is like the yellow pages: you get listed no matter what. Google has made a ton of money off of indexing and ranking content (by selling the equivalent of yellow pages display ads). If AT&T all of a sudden decided to open a bunch of restaurants and started leaving off listings of other restaurants, someone would complain.

From the Google blog:

Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we've heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages. Rating and review counts reflect only those that've been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the web, we're continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe.

Sure, it’s their product, but this doesn’t serve the user at all what Google does best — find relevant content on the web. This paragraph is a complete contradiction.

What it really appears is they used “other’s people content” to build a skeleton, and now are trying to grow their own user generated content (with lacklaster results, as the screenshot above proved). This undermines their credibility.

Google has to decide if they’re a search engine/portal or a destination site. If they’re a search engine/portal, they should stay out of the review business.

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