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  • Google Places Gets A New SERP And Yelp Continues To Win

    Yelp  

    Nov 02 2011

    Yes we all know by now that Google Places has a new look for their SERPs (one which I really dig by the way) but I want to talk about who I still think comes out the winner in all this – Yelp.  If you remember, Yelp fought hard to get themselves removed from the “reviews” area of the Places page (or as I like to call it “reviews jail”), insisting that Google was stealing their content.  What it really boiled down to, is that people didn’t have to actually CLICK and go to Yelp to see any of the reviews, because they were right there in the Google Places listing for people to read.  Yelp ended up getting what they wanted, and getting the reviews removed from this “reviews jail”.

    Bring on yesterdays changes  – Here is a before and after look of the same local search SERP (note where you do not find Yelp in the reviews area, but one of the top results on the regular SERP listings.)  Also note where you still find Yelp – dominating the top of the organic SERPs (right where I’d want to be if I were them).  You know Yelp is benefiting greatly, and getting loads of traffic from these organic listings.

    Google Local SERP before

    Google Local SERP before

    Google Places SERP After

    Google Places SERP After

     

    As Yelp continues to be free from the “reviews jail” that Google had placed them in, and enjoys these top organic rankings (for virtually any and all queries I did anyway) they are going stay the DOMINATING force in reviews.  I know a lot of people locally who have told me they search for a business just to find & read the Yelp reviews.  IMO – Yelp is winning the reviews battle (for now) with Google.  Yelp has always had good rankings in Google, but as I said earlier – there has yet to be a search I did where I did not find the Yelp listing in one of the top 3 organic spots.  Again I say, win for Yelp.

    I reached out to my Yelp contacts (who I adore) for comment on the new SERP change, and they politely said “sorry, have to pass”.

    Thanks to Greg over at SEL for making me think of this (from his post this morning on Google raising the local search stake).

    • http://johnon.com john andrews

      I have to agree. Although I really don’t like Yelp, if they sat back and worked their existing business for a while without getting aggressive, I think they’d kill it. In other words, it’s theirs to lose.

      Google still.. after all these years and new non-engineering hires, looks like an IT project. People (in general) are not looking for a computer database to tell them where to eat/vacation/shop for services. Amazon took that to the bank when search engines were dominant, and IMHO Yelp is limping into dominance while Google misses out on its monopoly search status.

      I think it has to do with leadership at Google… perhaps “local” can’t innovate because it ends up having to be “like Google — the search engine”, like Google-the-directory, like Google-the-info-database etc.

    • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

      @john andrews TOTALLY AGREE 100% …. Google has the power to CRUSH Yelp if they knew what they were doing. I think at some point they might get it together, but its taken them so long that Yelp has a cult following (me included) … very good points and thanks for stopping by.

    • http://www.mattmcgee.com/ Matt McGee

      I’ll play devil’s advocate.

      On the first screenshot above, Yelp has the #2 listing by definition. But there are a WHOPPING 16 links above Yelp on that page, and I’m not including the “Is this accurate?” and “Write a review” links. Several of those links are to Yelp’s direct competitors, like Urban Spoon, Yahoo, etc. There are three photos that also act as links and are (arguably) as compelling as the sitelinks right below the primary listing.

      Given that, and given what we know about the percentage of clicks that go to the first organic listing versus the second organic listing (much less than 17th), I wouldn’t really call this a “win” for Yelp. Great for them that they continue to rank well organically, but the value of that is very dubious with a search results page like the one you’ve used here.

    • http://www.mattmcgee.com/ Matt McGee

      Dangit – hit Submit before I meant to. Anyway … my guess is that a page like the above will generate some clicks for Yelp, primarily because the eyes are likely to be drawn to those photos soon after they’re drawn to the map on the right. People will see Yelp right below the photos and those who know what Yelp is might very eagerly click on the result.

      And as soon as Google’s internal eye-tracking focus groups reveal that, I bet we see the photos getting moved over to the right like they now show on some of the other new local results pages.

      To sum up in one sentence: I don’t think Google is so dumb as to do anything with its search results that hands Yelp a big win. Not when it’s trying to turn Google Places into a Yelp clone. (Sorry, that was two sentences!)

      • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

        I like the different view point Matt and you make some solid points, but I guess it comes down to WHO is looking at it. Higher ups in Yelp call it a win and got what they want. I think they also get more clicks this way (which
        Is what they want) my point was the new SERP is still a win for Yelp because they are still in a prominent position and if G really wanted to win this game Yelp would be nowhere to be found on first page. How is that not a win for a supposed direct competitor of G?

    • http://twitter.com/Thos003 Thos003

      So now would be a bad time to bring up that post I wanted to send you about Yelp’s broken review filter?

      I agree Yelp’s got a cult following. It took me awhile to join but it’s pretty convincing once you’ve experienced those rare jewels you can find on Yelp.

      And by far, Google is sucking it up bad… I have a post or two I could write on that as well.

    • http://michaeldorausch.com/ Michael Dorausch

      Not true that “Yelp has always had good rankings in Google” Matt. There was a time when Yelp barely ranked for anything local. That changed after they hired an SEO firm.

      John Andrews make a great point, I don’t think Google has anyone actively monitoring or filtering reviews. They either don’t have the staff or the interest to do so. Local for Google appears more like an auto generating content machine that lacks human oversight.

    • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

      @Michael Dorausch Ok … fair enough – perhaps I ment *always* as in technology years :-) … it just feels like forever …. seems the last several years (during this fight with Google) they have seemed to have really good rankings for almost anything I have ever searched for locally. Again, if you are G … don’t you go for the kill if you are trying to be a “Yelp clone” as Matt M. calls them? My point here is that UrbanSpoon, CitySearch all those others that are still locked in reviews jail are NOT getting the kind of clicks that YELP is … that is why I think Yelp is winning. Plus, you may hate the filter on Yelp, but they seem to be doing more about it than Google.

      Really appreciate the discussion going on here guys! Thanks

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    • http://www.seoweave.com/blog Greg Fowler

      I couldn’t resist since the conversation seemed to stop, but with local Seo placement, and Yelp getting the upper-hand, I don’t see what the problem is when you can easily use all of them for the local search seo, Yelp, CitySearch, Google Places, etc, in combination with true organic Seo. I don’t have much of an opinion either way for one reason, getting top local listings using these methods is easy, and it is one easy way to spot a company, that says “hey look, I have you at the top of the listings in Google for a local search” which is okay, if you are a restaurant, but not if you are global company, so the battle will continue to go on locally, nationally, and globally, with positions in serps.

    • Tom Hogan

      So, either all of you work for Yelp or you just seriously have your head up your a**! If you look at Yelp from a business owner’s perspective it sucks. It constantly filters reviews at will and does not allow any mainstream communication or rebuttal that doesn’t also get filtered. Google is easily linked to Facebook and also Google own Android which means their mobile platform is only going to continue to bury Google. With Google’s money, geo tracking, and power on the internet it is only a matter of time that Yelp will fade away into the underbelly of the internet.

      • JH

        We can only hope Tom. Unfortunately is hasn’t happened yet.

    • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

      @Tom Hogan Tom you couldn’t be more wrong my friend … but thanks for stoping by and sharing your opinion.