Aug 27 2010

Google Places Still the Wild West?

Category: local search marketingTom Shivers


Google Maps, now Google Places, can be a controversial topic when it comes to finding legitimate locations for a business and legitimate reviews.

The 8 pack of listings with the map that shows up for local search results is a coveted listing and it seems that for many search requests, these listings are not always helpful. Then when you look at the reviews for even helpful listings, it’s often easy to spot those that are fabricated (makes one wonder about businesses that get fake reviews).

So goes the story for Google Maps who recently changed their name to Google Places. Hopefully that’s a sign that things are changing for the better.

However, much better places on the web do exist, providing legit reviews on a consistent basis: yelp, kudzu, trip advisor, epinions, etc. It makes one wonder why Google, of all businesses, still lags behind in this space. The biggest reason, in my opinion, is their failed acquisition of Yelp in 2009, and things are not looking better between Yelp and Google: Has Google Purged Places Of Yelp? All Signs Point To Yes.

Now, at long last, it appears Google Places is going to clean up reviews. Just this week they have updated the reviews policy: Guidance and Updated Policies for Writing Reviews. One encouraging sign in the policy states, “in instances in which a review is in violation of our policy, we will remove the review.” Of course, it appears that Yelp reviews are in violation of that policy even though 90% of Yelp reviews are legit and of superior quality to Google Places.

But, perhaps this is the beginning of law and order in the wild west of Google Places. Either way, I seriously doubt Yelp or Kudzu are worried.

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