Google has got a high local focus at the moment, if any prediction has to be made Google will most probably focus on social, personal, mobile and local. However, Google is not the first to go local. There were many verticals before Google who figured local was the best way to go. With Google focussing more on the local front these verticals might just not like what the search giant is doing.
It now seems as if the first signals of that are emerging. Tripadvisor, one of the biggest sites when it comes to reviews for local: hotels, restaurants but also flights and trip ideas, seems to have blocked Google from showing their results in Google Places. The strange thing is that Tripadvisor says it has blocked Google where Google said it was a bug and the reviews would return shortly.
One of the first reporting on the missing Tripadvisor results in Places was local expert Mike Blumenthal. He collected several reports that reviews of Tripadvisor went missing in Google Places and Maps. He did a quick search in the Maps index which confirmed the missing pages, though a search now does bring back some results. Blumenthal at that moment did not know whether or not this was a bug or something else.
Barry Schwartz at Searchengineroundtable picked up the story saying that Mike had received a statement from Google stating it was a bug.
Google told Mike:
“We’re aware of a technical issue in which TripAdvisor reviews are sometimes not appearing in results for Google Places, and our team is working to resolve the matter.”
End of story, you would think. There is however another story out there. Kevin May reports on Tnooz, a travel tech site, that there is no bug, but that Tripadvisor has pulled the reviews themselves. He quotes an e-mail from Tripadvisor which indicates they are responsible themselves and that Tripadvisor “continues to evaluate recent changes to Google Places it believes the user does not benefit with the “experience of selecting the right hotel“.
An official also said:
“As a result, we have currently limited TripAdvisor content available on those pages,”
The move has been given in by the changes Google made to Places recently giving more emphasis to reviews and pictures while the hotel map, which for Tripadvisor was important, was moved to the right.
It is very remarkable that Tripadvisor makes this move, but it is even more remarkable that Google doesn’t seem to know about this move and calls it a “bug”.
With Tripadvisor being the first to do this who knows what might happen if others follow. Or will this turn out to be a bug after all?