Google Places blocked from using TripAdvisor reviews
Now here is an interesting development – Google is no longer able to stream in reviews from TripAdvisor to Places pages after the user review giant blocked it.
TripAdvisor confirmed the move today in an email, stating that while it continues to evaluate recent changes to Google Places it believes the user does not benefit with the “experience of selecting the right hotel”.
“As a result, we have currently limited TripAdvisor content available on those pages,” an official says.
The only mention at this stage is of Google Places – but this could quite feasibly extend to Maps or elsewhere (an initial search found no TripAdvisor reviews on Google Maps).
TripAdvisor reviews of hotel properties, alongside reviews from other providers, were streamed in as part of bitesize summaries of individual reviews, with a link to follow in order to read the full review on the TripAdvisor site.
TripAdvisor would feature next to reviews from online travel agencies or other hotel booking sites, but given its page rank in organic search, often found itself at the top of the list.
But Google made some changes to the Places pages about six weeks ago, giving greater prominence to reviews, pictures, links to supplier sites and moving the hotel map to a new position on the right-hand side.
Rumours started emerging that something was amiss earlier this week, ranging from a commercial dust-up between Google and TripAdvisor or technical problem, to the search giant deciding that it would only take content from sources that had verified the review.
A switch in strategy around verifications would make for a game-changing way in which reviews are handled in search, but both TripAdvisor and Google quickly scotched the suggestion.
A Google official confirms that “no product reviews have been removed based on verifiability” or for any other reason.
UPDATED statement from Google:
“We’re aware of a technical issue in which TripAdvisor reviews are sometimes not appearing in results for Google Places, and our team is working to resolve the matter. We are not currently requiring review verification, and you can find our review policies and guidelines here.”
The reality is very different.
As an official states today, TripAdvisor has decided to restrict its reviews from appearing in Google Places (the company also confirmed the earlier technical problem running, purely coincidentally, as the same time as its limitation exercise).
Simple. The restriction is said to have started “recently”.
Given the emphasis that Google has placed on its recent and sparkling new Places pages, this move by TripAdvisor could be seen as a bit of a kick in the teeth to the search giant.
Such a notion was, understandably, ruled out by TripAdvisor.
But, on a more practical level, hoteliers may be disappointed to see what some say is a good source of traffic (Google Places to TripAdvisor to supplier site) coming to an end, at least temporarily.
There is no information as to when the restrictions will be lifted or what would trigger such a relaxation of its new policy.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.