When you search for “hotel toronto” today, Google injects a map on the right side of the screen showing locations of Toronto hotels. Having a map appear for local searches makes sense. But rather than connecting the map pins to TripAdvisor, the map is hard-coded to Google+’s review ecosystem. This clearly doesn’t produce the most relevant results, as TripAdvisor almost always ranks higher than Google+ content according to Google’s own relevance ranker. You can see this for yourself by trying a simple test. Perform a search on Google for [hotel toronto (site:tripadvisor.com OR site:plus.google.com)]. Limiting the search to only these two review ecosystems makes it possible to see how they rank comparatively according to Google’s own relevance-based general search algorithm.
The results are rather shocking: for that query, Google’s general search algorithm thinks TripAdvisor has hundreds results that are more relevant than the most relevant result from Google+. But Google still gives Google+ preferential placement in search results.
But Focus on the User – Local doesn’t just compare TripAdvisor and Google+ — it incorporates hundreds of additional local review websites to find the most relevant results according to Google’s algorithm. From those top results, it takes the top seven most highly reviewed and highly rated results and replaces the Google+ information with the information selected for relevance by Google’s general search algorithm.