It looks like Google is about to acquire Yelp. No surprise, really. Is there a vertical Google hasn’t made a purchase in?
Two things happen when Google makes an acquisition in a vertical. A competitor comes along and outdoes them or Google develops the vertical into a profitable enterprise for itself. Notice I didn’t say Google improves the vertical.
Well, Yelp pretty much owns the local business review vertical. There are very few companies even competing over that space. So if Google does acquire Yelp it will be one more vertical the search giant owns by virtue of its bigness. That’s not saying that local business reviews and local search will necessarily improve. But it will change.
All the major search engines already have local business centers, but at present they are nothing more than directories with bells and whistles. Sites like Yelp actually are better at attracting the local business audience. So Google will naturally want to advertise to that market and capture that audience. How will local search change?
For one thing, I think it will become pay per click advertising centered. I’d look to see how Google marries AdWords and Yelp to better help local businesses reach their target market. Another marriage that could ensue is Yelp and YouTube – local video search anyone? I see many great possibilities for improvement of Yelp with Google muscle behind it.
Yes, I think local search would change forever. How drastically is really anyone’s guess.