Dear Yelp, Please Get Over Yourself
Poor, poor Yelp. What other website would you more expect to want to have its cake and eat it to? Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman was the subject of a big write-up in the UK’s Telegraph today where he complained that Google had given his restaurant review site an ultimatum: either allow Google to continue including excerpted reviews from Yelp on the new Google Places pages, or remove Yelp all together from the Google index.
“But that is not an option for us…we get a large volume of our traffic via Google search,” said Stoppelman, apparently ungrateful for what he must consider a Natural Right, to have his information organized ala Google at no cost. “We just don’t get any value out of our reviews appearing on Google Places and haven’t been given an option other than to remove ourselves from search…” I’m not buying it and here’s why.
Stoppelman went on to explain to the Telegraph that his company is doing just fine, of course. “We are getting to the size where very few companies can afford to buy us,” he said. “Our annual revenues are getting to the point where can be a public company….from our perspective that would be a hell of a lot more fun than selling Yelp.”
Well boo-hoo for you then, over this whole Google Places thing. Just how bad is it? Google Places is hardly a Google map covered in Yelp reviews – in fact, the site only excerpts the first 3 lines of two Yelp reviews! Along with 4 other sources of reviews (CitySearch, etc.) and Google’s own user reviews. Yelp is on the top of the list, too. Google Places could probably do just fine without it.
This reminds me of newspaper sites complaining about the millions of readers aggregators like the Huffington Post send them, based on short excerpts of their articles. Except Yelp isn’t hurting like newspapers are. Yelp is doing really well, in large part because of Google’s free search traffic.
Yelp may have reason to be concerned about Google Places (with Hotpot!) – especially given the advertising blitz Google has behind it. But it’s legitimate competition Yelp has to fear, not a little light aggregation. That’s my take on it. Maybe there are fine-grained details I’m not taking into account. Maybe this is about cross-industry monopolistic practices, I don’t know. Google’s take it or leave it perspective doesn’t seem unreasonable to me in this case, though.
Google Places is a good, fast way to start looking for reviews of nearby restaurants but it doesn’t offer the depth of the sites it aggregates. In the end, millions of us will keep going to Yelp for the in-depth reviews of restaurants written from the perspective of the unique Yelp culture: typically young, urban socialites who feel entitled to pass judgement on small businesses. Maybe the corporate attitude just comes along with that culture.
- Google Places Updates Reviews Section, Yelp Is Back
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- Google Places Now Borrowing Yelp Reviews Without Attribution In iPhone App
- Yelp Founder Says “No Extortion — Just a Misunderstood Algorithm”
- Yelp Now Drawing 50 Million Users A Month To Its 17 Million Reviews