Study Shows Google Skews Search Results: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

google search results, yelp, google plus

Google has been accused of skewing local search results in a study commissioned by Yelp. The study says these tactics hurt not only certain businesses but mostly the consumer.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. The Federal Trade Commission conducted an investigation into Google two years ago

FTC, Google search, google plus, yelp

In 2013, the FTC found that Google was employing ethical practices, but some companies were still not convinced. Yelp decided to take things into its own hands.


2. Professors from Harvard and Columbia wrote a report detailing Google’s search results

Google search results, yelp, google plus

You can read the paper published by a team of academics and Yelp employees.

Professor Michael Luca from Harvard Business School, Professor Tim Wu from Columbia Law School and Yelp’s data department worked together to test out how Google chooses search results. Yelp compensated both of the professors for their work.


3. Yelp tested how consumers use a Google search

google search results, google plus, yelp,

Re/Code got a copy of the two sites Yelp used to compare search results. It shows that the user has access to more reviews with the Yelp page.

The report targets what Google calls the OneBox, which is the list of links at the top of the screen when you search for food or a dentist or any service. All of these are pushed to the top by Google+ reviews. Yelp made its own version and pushed Yelp reviewed businesses to the top. The report found that users not only responded better to the Yelp version, but were able to search through 719 reviews compared to only 31 with Google.


4. Google has not responded

google search, yelp, google plus

So far Google hasn’t made a statement about any of these claims, and we will update when we hear something


5. The user may not be getting access to the most-reviewed business

google search, yelp, google plus

So what does this mean for the normal user? Yelp is claiming that a normal search isn’t actually bringing up the best businesses and this leads to you not eating the best sushi in a five mile radius. It could also change the number of patrons businesses who aren’t on Google+ are getting. More investigating still needs to be done to be certain, but this could change how Google handles search results.

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