Google confirmed today that Yelp reviews have been removed from Google Places.
In recent months, Yelp's CEO Jeremy Stoppelman has been publicly unhappy that Google began to crawl Yelps reviews and include them in the "Reviews" section on Google Places pages.
A few years ago, Google used to pay Yelp for access to their reviews, until Yelp cancelled the deal. Later, Google began crawling the Yelp site and including Yelp reviews in Google Places pages, anyway, without payment.
In a recent interview with Techcrunch, Stoppelman stated that
"Well I think we were surprised because we hadnt participated in Place Pages over the years. Like we were in sort of the precursor to Place Pages back in something like 2006 and then we left because we werent really happy in the direction it was going and we thought OK well just show up in organic results and everybody is still happy. And then yeah, we found our content was showing up there and it is ranked dead last right now.".
And now, Yelp reviews are no longer even ranking dead last in Google Places – they are completely missing. Kaput.
Google's official statement about Yelp reviews in Google Places is:
Regarding the presentation of Yelp review snippets, neither of us was happy with the data as it appeared, so we reclassified results from Yelp while we reviewed our options. This means that, for the time being, Yelp pages may not appear as review snippets in Place page results, though relevant results from Yelp will continue appear in the more about this place section, which shows pages about a given location. We are working with Yelp to more intelligently crawl and present results from their site.
It's worth noting at this point that as of August 4th this year, just 3 weeks ago, Google added the ability for businesses to respond to reviews on their Google Places page.
As the situation stands right now, given the level of disagreement between the companies, the fact that Google yesterday updated their Reviews Policies, which now include "Intellectual Property" as grounds for removal, and the fact that businesses can now respond to reviews directly in Google Places, it's unlikely that Yelp reviews will be officially back in Google Places any time soon.
What does this mean to you SEP's readers?
For businesses that have been investing in encouraging their customers to leave reviews for them on Yelp, those Yelp reviews now have less value.
Previously, getting a review on Yelp would also generally get you a review in your Google Places page. Now, that particular incentive to get a review in Yelp has gone – the reviews on both services will no longer be consolidated into one location (Google Places).
You as a business now needs to either encourage visitors to leave reviews in both services, or make a strategic decision about which service to invite your customers to leave a review about you.