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Google's Bad Neighbor Policy Towards Local Silicon Valley Merchants

Silicon Valley local merchants, who compete with Google Places, have complained to Silicon Valley's local paper, the San Jose Mercury News, that Google is effectively penalizing their online content so that in practice, no one can find them.



This could have the makings of another Google antitrust complaint of interest to the FTC and/or the California Attorney General to determine if Google is being:


  • Anti-competitive to an important local competitor to Google's own local offering, Google Places, or
  • Deceptive in its representations of being an unbiased information broker and never manipulating search results for its own commercial benefit.


Where Google is vulnerable here, is that it is forcing its own self-serving and unappealable standard of online "authority" (which drives Google's search ranking and reinforces Google's market power), on the Silicon Valley local shopping marketplace, smack in the face of common sense and real life commercial authority in the physical marketplace.


  • Think about it.
  • is backed by many of the most respected physical "authorities" in their local marketplace:
    • The City of Palo Alto;
    • The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce;
    • The Palo Alto Weekly; and
    • The Homegrown Peninsula, an Independent Business Alliance of Shop Local merchants.
  • And Google thinks that the site representing these widely-respected and highly-aggregated physical authorities warrants a ranking in the seventh page of Google results, where less than one tenth of one percent of searchers will find them?
    • Fishy. Very fishy.


If actual local government and business "authorities" are not recognized by Google's "authority" ranking system, is that because is seen as a logical lead competitor over time to Google Places, or that these merchants have not advertised enough with Google to warrant being found by Google searchers?

This is a prime example of how capricious Google's algorithmic marketplace is.


  • The opaque and punitive way that Google operates its market creates enormous uncertainty for anyone trying to do commerce online.


Google creates huge uncertainty for all online content, because people know they are not in control of their own destiny with Googleopoly.


  • The cold reality is that merchants know what Google giveth, Google can taketh away -- at any time, regardless of what they do.