Google Local Experiment in the Bay Area: Thoughts on a Trainwreck

Google, oh Google. You just seem to be a ‘star crossed lover’ when it comes to local. First it was Google Local, then Google+, then Google+ Local, now back to Google local. You had Google guides (sort of like Yelp elite), and then when that program flopped you quietly killed it. You make it easy to see reviews, then hard, then easy, and now hard again. Now, in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’re rolling out an “experiment” for local services in which vendors pay to be included, and users can no longer see the real reviews, nor the non-paying vendors.

What a mess. Here’s my video explanation of the train wreck that Google is creating for local customers, and local businesses. Yelp anyone?

Watch the Video

Watch Google Local Trainwreck on YouTube

Finding Vendors for Fremont Furnace Repair

So, here I am – it’s January and my furnace isn’t working… so I am looking at online reviews, and trying to find a ‘furnace repair fremont‘. What do I find? Well –

  • The big hijack. ALL I see are sponsored results – no “free” or “organic” results in the local snack pack.   Compare it to ‘pizza repair fremont.’ Here, we see the ‘free’ results vs. just ‘paid ads.’ Let’s face it: people are very SKEPTICAL of paid results.
  • Reviews? Where are the Reviews? On the ‘furnace repair fremont’ results, you can NOT even read or see the real reviews. So even though these guys have reviews on Google, it’s hard to actually ‘find’ them in the interface. You have to realize that there is a ‘review tab,’ and then check that out.
  • Their websites? You can’t jump from Google TO their websites, so you can’t actually go check them out “on their own terms.”

All of this with the huge caveat that – as a consumer – I want to see unbiased, unfiltered results… generally the organic and not the paid advertising. So I’d prefer to skip any paid vendors and go for the organic vendors. As a vendor, I realize how critical organic / non-paid results are because consumers TRUST organic more than they trust advertising.

No Thanks Google

No thanks Google. As a consumer, I’ll use Yelp for ‘furnace repair Fremont‘, and as a vendor I’ll just pull my hair out as this change to Google+. Google continues to do a terrible no good, rotten, horrible job with Google local. Sigh.


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About Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason's motto as a consultant is that he doesn't do SEO 'for you' but rather he does SEO 'with you.' That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.