Most of the “content” that Google provides in its sites such as Places or local or universal search is not generated by Google through its own investment. Rather, Google scrapes the content developed by other websites and displays it on a Google page. This enables Google to earn advertising revenues and to deprive the other website of user traffic.
The recent dispute between TripAdvisor and Google illustrates this practice. TripAdvisor spent years and many millions of dollars developing a collection of user reviews that provide a valuable resource to users selecting hotels and restaurants. Google scrapes these reviews from TripAdvisor and displays them on Google Places pages despite TripAdvisor’s objection to the practice.
Google is now seeking to coerce TripAdvisor into acquiescing to this use by tying the removal of TripAdvisor content from Google Places pages to the exclusion of all TripAdvisor links from appearing in Google’s dominant algorithmic search engine results.
In the words of the TripAdvisor CEO: “I don’t feel like it’s fair to force me to provide information to site that’s trying to compete with me.”
TripAdvisor isn’t alone. Yelp’s CEO stated: “Google forces review websites to provide their content for free to benefit Google’s own competing product – not consumers. Google then gives its own product preferential treatment in Google search results.”
Even more recently, Google’s been caught scraping content for its Places iPhone app from Yelp’s and TripAdvisor’s mobile sites without attribution