April 17, 2015

Google and Yelp: Relationship Status? It’s Complicated

The Yelp Logo over a red background over a Google Logo with a blue background.  A white line of electricity separates them.
Is Google aiming to take down Yelp? Photo courtesy of techcrunch.com.
By Justin H.

Google and Yelp are two ever-growing tech giants that need to eat. A lot. Each company is constantly working to expand, only now it looks like there is only one seat at the dinner table. The relationship between these two dates back years and years, and has become increasingly more unsettling as Google continues to grow not only in size, but in trust, as well.

As Google keeps going back to the proverbial well that is the local search industry, Yelp finds itself behind the 8-ball. Yelp was originally founded on crowd-sourced reviews for local businesses, but its seat has gotten less stable of late as Google keeps turning up the heat in the local market.

But, why is there so much animosity? Isn’t there enough room at the table for both to eat and get along?

Yelp Turns Down Google: He’s Just Not That Into You

Yelp was founded in 2004 and quickly rose to prominence by creating a network for people who simply wanted information on local businesses and services. The company became so powerful that Google made a big effort to acquire Yelp in December of 2009 for more than half a billion dollars. The deal was just about finished, but Yelp ultimately decided to remain independent.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs decided to give Yelp a call, urging them not to take the deal with Google. He was fond of Yelp, and wanted to see it remain an independent company. He was also determined to make sure his main adversary Google didn’t get its way.

In March of 2012, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman rang the bell for the New York Stock Exchange as Yelp went public.

The Falling Out

Shortly after the deal fell through, the Google-Yelp relationship got complicated. Stoppelman testified against Google at Senate hearings regarding unbalanced internet competition. Back in 2010, Google also removed all Yelp reviews from Google Places (now known as Google My Business). Yelp also recently lobbied against Google in its current pickle of potential multi-billion dollar monopolization and antitrust charges.

A big hammer just dropped this past February, when Google rolled out its new Local Guides program, which we have previously covered here at Tek Shouts. The program was designed to help Google, “increase the number of high-quality business reviews on its site by encouraging top reviewers to post more often in exchange for a variety of benefits,” according to Tech Crunch.

Will Yelp Get Buried?

In just a few days on April 21, Google is rolling out a massive mobile algorithm update. Yelp’s user growth plummeted after the last Google update, and it could certainly happen again.

As for Apple, the company has veered away from its old buddy Yelp in favor of TripAdvisor and Booking.com. As if Yelp didn’t have enough to worry about, Amazon also has its new Home Services venture, which assists users in finding repairmen, electricians, plumbers, etc.

As you can see, it’s been a brutal couple of months for Yelp. Experts are worried this avalanche could crush them due to Google, Apple and Amazon pounding their chests, as well as Yelp’s plummeting trust rate. We can only wait and see how the new mobile algorithm affects them.

What do you think is in store for Yelp? Is Google monopolizing them? Let us know in the comments!

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