In the bid to make its Places pages exclusive, Google Inc has made the decision to discard snippets of reviews from third party sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor in lieu of all-Google content. This move is bound to boost Google’s assertion that it does not violate antitrust laws. Third party websites have been complaining for months citing that their content was being republished by the search engine giant without compensation. Late last week, the Web titan finally made the announcement of the impending changes.
In the said announcement, Google mentioned that it would remove ratings and snippets from third party review websites from pages of its Google Places. At the same time, information from the aforementioned websites will no longer be featured in Google’s location-based listings.
There has been a lot of talk leading to the enactment of these changes. In April of 2010, Google revamped its Local Business Center search service. As of late, there are millions of businesses listed as Google Places. The search engine giant continued with the institution of various changes which coincided with its launching of Google+. These changes included various branches of Google such as Maps, Gmail and Calendar.
The director of product management in Google, Avni Shah has released a statement pertaining to the recent changes. “Based on careful thought about the future course of Places pages, and response we have heard over the past few months, review snippets from other Web sources have now been removed from Places pages,” Shah wrote in a Google blog post. “Rating and review counts reflect only those that have been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the Web, we are continuing to provide links to other review sites so that you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe”.
It seems like this move precipitated due to antitrust reviews. Just a week prior to the announcement of the changes FT.com revealed that Dana Wagner, the legal advisor for Google, was the subject of attack from opponents at a conference of US state attorneys-general due to Google’s practice of including content from third party websites on its Places pages. A Federal antitrust investigation is already looking into Google’s practices. In Europe, the search engine giant is already facing complaints from third party websites like Citysearch, Yelp, and TripAdvisor asserting that Google is exploiting their clients by featuring reviews to add value to its Places service.