Linda Buquet

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Powerhouse companies Yelp & TripAdvisor team up in new initiative to kill Google Local as we know it!

No doubt you guys are aware of the group "Fair Search" and have seen news articles about how the European Commission is trying to change the way Google does business. You may be aware that some of those efforts and the competitive concerns focus on Google Local.

Well there is a new group called Focus on the User that has Google Local results in their cross hairs.
In fact as you can see by their logo - killing Google Local is their prime focus!​

(Red X Added by Me)

<img src="http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Focus.jpg" alt="Focus" width="50%" />​


The group is comprised of Yelp, TripAdvisor, Consumer Watchdog, Fight for the Future, Jameda, and HolidayCheck. Their thrust is that Google goes against its own "good for the user" algo by showing local pinned 7 pack results. (Which they refer to as G+ results.) These companies are pushing for Google to face punishment for these "unnatural" G+ results, and they are trying to force Google to change the algorithm.


Here is their video and below is my heated argument.


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qbqhPG60kio?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Here are my thoughts on the matter.

1) Companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor are directories and they are fighting for directories.
Why can't Google have it's own local directory too?

2) Google does not poke it's nose in Yelp's business telling them how they should display results. Yelp is pretty big and powerful in the space. Do you see Google telling Yelp, you are too powerful and all your results are Yelp results - you need to include some Google results in your search results too? (I know that's a little far fetched and the argument is that Google is the world's largest search engine - BUT Yelp is powerful in the local space too and no one is telling them how display their results or how to run their business.)

3) BIGGIE - These ARE algo based results, as we all know. They aren't just straight G+ results, as these companies make it sound. Google is not featuring it's own G+ listings in search. It is featuring the business websites, with some of the added G+ info. In fact most of us think if anything G+ is downplayed too much in the current display. But the fact is that to a large degree this IS the organic algo at work trying to deliver the best web sites in the results. The display just includes the local info like reviews and location from Google+.

I'm pretty hot under the collar about this one!
What do you think???

<meta property="og:type" content="article"><meta property="og:title" content=""><meta property="og:description" content="Powerhouse companies Yelp & TripAdvisor team up in new initiative to kill Google Local as we know it!">
<meta property="og:image" content="http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Focus.jpg">
 
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1.) Why is this just focused on Google? Aren't there some other search engines out there that display their local results?! At least these business listings on Google are free to business owners and give them a chance at the first page.

2.) In my opinion, if they were passionate about the User they would spend more energy focusing on what they can control or even CREATE (like Google did and continues to do) that "Focuses on the User". Maybe b/c it's easier said, in a 3 minute video, than done.

"Promote what you love, don't bash what you hate." When it comes to Local, I've learned, through this forum, that it's better to focus more on what I can do right (and share that information) rather than what I feel like Google can do better.

3.) Linda nailed the rest. I'd like to see Yelp include some G+ listings in their directory since they frequent the SERP's more often than not. That should be about a 1 minute video, maybe.:p
 

valesence

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My first thought is that our opinion really doesn't matter. Search is a multi billion dollar industry and other companies will try and posture for more share. They will do this by using the courts trying to break the virtual monopoly that google is enjoying at this point.

examples through history, Standard Oil, Att, and microsoft have been targets when they consumed to much of the share of an industry.

This being said, search will continue to change as we know it. I believe that in 5 years what you see when you search and the way results are displayed will be drastically different.

My recommendation. You should hedge your bets and continue to put effort in the most popular directories to rank higher in them. This will serve two purposes, first it should help the existing local ranking you are working on and it will help if some pigeon craps on you (Like it did me) and only leaves a yelp directory listing as your sole exposure in google.
 

katandmouse

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I'm confused. These days perform any local search and you'll see Yelp and other directories taking over the first page and pushing down the local listings. I have a completely opposite gripe with Google, my thinking being, if I wanted to search in a directory I'd go there and do it. I'd prefer they show me what their algorithms detect to be the most relevant individual results instead, so I don't have to weed through those directories whose search algorithms aren't anywhere near as complex and accurate.
 

Louis Nava

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Time and time again I hear people referring to business/map listings and the knowledge graph as Google+ pages. Yes, they interact with Google+ but nowadays, it takes a bit of clicks to get to Google+ from search and maps.

I think there's still a bit of confusion as to what is what..and of course using the correct vocabulary is essential to understanding.

Looks like Pigeon is ruffling peoples feathers. ;)
 

bczubiak

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I'm confused. These days perform any local search and you'll see Yelp and other directories taking over the first page and pushing down the local listings. I have a completely opposite gripe with Google, my thinking being, if I wanted to search in a directory I'd go there and do it. I'd prefer they show me what their algorithms detect to be the most relevant individual results instead, so I don't have to weed through those directories whose search algorithms aren't anywhere near as complex and accurate.

I think what will happen is that Google search will end up being like a magazine. You have to turn a bunch of pages to get to the real information. I find myself doing that now when I am looking for certain topics. For some reason, I am trusting page 2 and 3 more than page 1.
 

valesence

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I think what will happen is that Google search will end up being like a magazine. You have to turn a bunch of pages to get to the real information. I find myself doing that now when I am looking for certain topics. For some reason, I am trusting page 2 and 3 more than page 1.


If this happens it will be short lived. People are too hasty to look through pages of results to find what they are looking for. Google has only garnered its dominance by being able to figure out what people are looking for and giving it to them. If you have to sift through that much information then your preference in search engines will change to bing or yahoo.

Google take note, I believe that you accomplished the goal of giving searchers revelent information much better before pigeon. In my honest opinion this change has lowered your value as a search engine and has opened a window for others to gain market share.
 

bczubiak

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I think it was better before pigeon too. Page 1 is starting to look like a bunch of adds. Those Whitepages, Yelp, and Yellowpage results are creeping in slowly but surely taking away the nice organics. Also, I really hate it when I click on a listing in the 7 or 3 pack and it takes me to a Google Plus Page.
 

Linda Buquet

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I'm right with there with you all! Thanks for weighing in!
 

Dino

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I find it comical that Yelp has a gripe with how Google shows results when it's own results are manipulative. It doesn't surprise me though. Yelp and Google aren't exactly sweethearts.

Agree with valesence, these are big companies trying what they can to gain more market share. They want us to join their fight.
 

Linda Buquet

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True Dino.

Plus if I were Yelp I would not protest too loudly. As it is they dominate most of the local SERPs often with the top 2 organics.

If I was Google I would just pull the plug on them for a week and then say:

"Did you miss all the traffic and top rankings we used to give you that you seem to not have noticed or appreciated at the time? Would you like it back?"
 

Linda Buquet

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Greg's post at SEland.

<a href="http://searchengineland.com/consortium-including-yelp-uses-google-algoritm-204577">Focus On User Group Uses Google Algorithm To Attack Map Pack</a>
 

steven

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Can't blame yelp for pointing fingers when they don't want anyone looking at what's going wrong with their own company... It's a good tactic. Couldn't Yelp just start their own search engine?
 

Chris Ratchford

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Google needs to drop the hammer on Yelp for all their black hat SEO tactics that push their results above the 7 packs.
 
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Good video from the 'powerhouse group', but it does seem a little self interested. The G+ (formerly Google Places) results are part of the algorithm, not some separate entity. Yes, they do have their own rules and they are definitely favoured, but they're certainly strongly related to the organic results too. In fact, over time the G+ results and the main organic results are getting more integrated, which is a great thing.

The directories have been moved off the 1st page of Google several times now and over time, they seem to work their way back with varying degrees of success. Sometimes they have to 'pay to play' via Adwords and sometimes they get back organically. Directories have their place, but should they really be beating the 7 pack? Google's 7 pack essentially helps small local businesses compete for listings with multimillion dollar directories, which actually seems to be a fairer system. From a user perspective, would I rather find a local business or a directory? Well, if I'm presented with a directory, I've often got to complete a second search within that directory to find what I'm looking for, which isn't what I want at all. Give me a local listing any day, so I can go directly to the local business' website not into a directory. G+ is highly verified now and heavily influenced by citation consistency, reviews and integration with the business website (and the organic SEO on that site), so it's becoming a pretty fair mechanism.

I'm all for user first and fair play. In my mind the directories aren't about user first at all, they're simply worried that they won't keep attracting the same amount of visitors (from Google), which is a threat to their businesses. It's all about the dollars and they'll use any tactic they can. Google is super dominant in the world of search and is always going to get sued and have complaints brought against it, but overall I think it does a pretty awesome job balancing fairness with a natural desire to make money and maintain it's position in the world.
 
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2 Interesting Videos that could come out of this:

1 - Google Rebuttal Video Showing Yelp's Plug Getting Pulled
2 - Yelp Video Response To Google's Video About Pulling Yelp's Plug

I wish I had time to make those - would be a fun project :D



True Dino.

Plus if I were Yelp I would not protest too loudly. As it is they dominate most of the local SERPs often with the top 2 organics.

If I was Google I would just pull the plug on them for a week and then say:

"Did you miss all the traffic and top rankings we used to give you that you seem to not have noticed or appreciated at the time? Would you like it back?"
 

Linda Buquet

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OMG - check this video - there is some really good search info in here...
But TOTALLY biased against the local pack.

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Ew1sC-qCyqI?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Here is what WebProNews said about this video: Tool Claims To Show Google Search Bias

The video demonstrates the Chrome extension, which claims to “turn on” the main Google algorithm within local Onebox results, so that these results show what the algorithm actually deems the most relevant, which (you guessed it) tends to be things from the competitors and not Google+.

“You might think that Google gives you the best answers from across the web when you search for something as important as a pediatrician in Munich, a bicycle repair shop in Copenhagen, or a hotel in Madrid,” the site says. “But Google doesn’t actually use its normal organic search algorithm to produce the responses to this question that you see prominently on the first screen. Instead, it promotes a more limited set of results drawn from Google+ ahead of the more relevant ones you would get from using Google’s organic search algorithm.”


Watch that darned video then head over to read the rest at WPN.

What do you think???
 

steven

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I still think this is about yelp trying to deflect...
 
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