Does Yelp’s New Partnership Spell Trouble for Google’s Dominance?

For most of recent tech history, Google has been king. It dominates U.S. search engine market share, with 66% as of January 2012.  Its web browser, Google Chrome, recently overtook the ubiquitous Internet Explorer to take the lead with nearly 33% of the market share, and Google’s Android mobile OS leads all other smartphones. But with recent partnerships with companies such as Apple, Yelp may be on its way to topple Google from its throne – at least as far as local search and SEO are concerned.

Since Apple released the iPhone 4S last year, Yelp has been providing much of the content for Siri, the phone’s much-hyped voice recognizing “personal assistant”. Though the local search experience with Siri is imperfect, and Yelp’s branding in the system was kept to a minimum, it seems that Apple and Yelp have bigger plans in the works: namely, teaming up to bring Yelp’s check-ins and local business listings to the new and highly anticipated Apple Maps, an application to be included in the upcoming iOS 6 that will be replacing Google as the default location tool for iPhones.

Though the Apple Maps application is still in development, it’s been reported that users will be able to “check in” and post their current location directly to Yelp, without ever leaving the Maps application. This feature would give Yelp a serious leg up over competing geolocation apps, such as Foursquare or Facebook’s check in feature.

While the extent that Yelp will benefit from this partnership relies heavily on how successful Apple Maps turns out to be, it’s difficult to argue that Yelp won’t at least see a significant boost in traffic and activity. This will arguably boost Yelp up from its current spot as second fiddle in local search and SEO, positioning it in a spot right alongside Google.

What does this mean for SEO? For one thing, it’s further evidence to support the belief that you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one SEO basket. While optimizing your site with Google in mind is still a good idea, it should only be part of your plan.  Google isn’t the only thing out there. This is true for not only local search and SEO, but for integrated social media efforts, link building, and content management, as well. You need to take the time and effort to make sure all of your bases are covered; Google may still be king for now, but Yelp’s gains in local search and SEO should remind you that the crown might soon be up for grabs.

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