You are here

The Update: Google Rankings Knock Down Yelp

August 2015

Back in May, in "Google Rankings Embrace Mobile Sites", units reported on Google's algorithm changes that favored mobile sites.

In July, it adjusted again to favor its own local Google+ reviews. Yelp is expected to take a big hit, report some in the search-engine industry, so much so that Yelp could see year-over-year traffic fall for the first time, based on its June reports.

This probably won't bring dramatic action from apartment industry marketers.

Says Kate Good, "Yelp always has been a difficult site in which to work. So I am fine with them falling off Google. Yelp's system is not cooperating with owners like ApartmentRatings.com does."

Industry consultant Donald Davidoff says this adjustment by Google is a reminder of Google+'s power.

"Unless anti-trust regulators force Google to change, resistance is futile," he says. "So while Google+ has never really been that impressive, marketers should make sure all of their data on their Google+ pages is accurate and up-to-date."

Melanie Stiles, Vice President, Marketing & Training, Milestone Management, says Google+ primarily is a valuable local optimization tool and secondarily is a source for review content.

"Yelp, on the other hand, is primarily rating/review content," Stiles says. "Any changes to Google's algorithm would have us re-evaluating our approach to search optimization, not our approach to Yelp." 

Vlad Molchadski, CEO, BizTraffic, a third-party search-engine optimization firm used by Milestone, says this move "is not a big deal for multifamily. Google is not actively trying to push Yelp or any other local directories further down the SERPs.

"In May, Google search algorithms were hit with several updates that targeted poor content quality and irregular map searches. The updates unintentionally introduced a glitch that disrupted local results for about five days. Google corrected the error, announced what had happened, and the results jumped back up to where they had been.

"It is important to note that Yelp has been pushing stories recently about Google trying to promote its own 'services' with its local OneBox. OneBox actually is just a different type of local pack and the 'services' are just businesses that have properly optimized their Google+ pages.

"Yelp has also been promoting a browser plug-in (designed by Yelp engineers) that replaces local packs with organic results. This is potentially dangerous, since Google+ verifies all of the businesses in the local pack and these guys are replacing it with tampered results that may not actually be what they present themselves as.

"On top of all that, Yelp is the business that has been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for possibly influencing reviews of businesses based on whether or not they pay for advertising. The idiom 'pot calling the kettle black' fits so well here."