Yelp!, CitySearch, TripAdvisor, Yellow Pages Online. What do these groups have in common? For one, they’re all currently or once were partners with Google. For another, they all look shockingly similar to Google’s new directory format, “City Pages.” It’s far from unlikely that Google’s new format will go unnoticed by these partners, and the fallout may be devastating for Google’s data stream.
The new format involves putting together the Google Places data (Google Places being Google’s collection of review data, user suggestions, pictures, and other content related to local businesses) with Google Offers (Google Offers being a daily deal and special discount mechanism that lets local business owners gain exposure by publicizing special deals) and a few other elements. While there are many ways to organize this set of data, Google decided to put it together in City Pages. This new format constructs a page for each city, letting users see their local deal, explore local businesses, and see resources from Google specifically designed for their area.
This steps on the heads of companies like CitySearch, though, since they’ll no longer be providing an extra service to users. Previously, Google accepted data from groups like CitySearch to supplement the reviews provided directly by Google users. Google then provided a link back to the site providing the data. However, with the current layout, those links – while present – are unlikely to see use. What’s worse, Google has made these city pages indexable; the Google SERP can pull the page on relevant key terms, meaning it will appear in visible juxtaposition to sites like Yelp! and CitySearch.
If TripAdvisor’s tissy fit when Google added a more detailed version of Places is any indication, this change is almost certain to result in major fallout for Google partnerships.