Following reports on the disappearance of TripAdvisor reviews from Google Maps results on the 4th December the causes of the problem have gradually unfolded over the following days.
It transpires that it was partly due to a technical glitch at Google Places (nothing new there, you might say) but mainly a withdrawal of co-operation by TripAdvisor.
A TripAdvisor spokesperson revealed to Mike at www.blumenthals.com
Google frequently makes changes to Google Places, and while we’re continuing to evaluate it, we don’t think it benefits users at this time with the experience of selecting the right hotel. As a result, we have currently limited the TripAdvisor content available on those pages.
Of course, TripAdvisor’s move is not altruistic as it suggests here – it is not about “benefiting users with the experience of selecting the right hotel”, it is about benefitting TripAdvisor by channelling the maximum number of hotel bookings through its own site.
TripAdvisor’s problem is that Google Places aggregates reviews from many sources, so some users may not click through to TripAdvisor reviews if the same, or more, information is already on Google Places. This is compounded by Google’s plans to introduce direct booking through Google Places, thanks to its acquisition of the online booking engine ITA.
The flipside is that if TA does not feature in Google Places, which are all the more prominent in SERPs since the recent revision and promotion of Maps in Google searches, then TA is going to lose a heck of a lot of click-through traffic.
This spat is benefiting neither TA nor Google – they’ll have to settle eventually.
Meantime, it would help if Google got its Places listings in order. Their Places forum is littered with complaints of accounts being blocked and listings removed because of duplicate listings/quality guidelines. Often the problem is caused by Google itself scraping listings from sites like Trivago, causing a conflict with the proper owner’s listing.