“Google's jobs search draws antitrust complaints from rivals - CNBC” plus 2 more

“Google's jobs search draws antitrust complaints from rivals - CNBC” plus 2 more


Google's jobs search draws antitrust complaints from rivals - CNBC

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 02:02 AM PDT

Google signage.

NurPhoto | Getty Images

Google's fast-growing tool for searching job listings has been a boon for employers and job boards starving for candidates, but several rival job-finding services contend anti-competitive behavior has fueled its rise and cost them users and profits.

In a letter to be sent to European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday and seen by Reuters, 23 job search websites in Europe called on her to temporarily order Google to stop playing unfairly while she investigates.

Similar to worldwide leader Indeed and other search services familiar to job seekers, Google's tool links to postings aggregated from many employers. It lets candidates filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply.

Alphabet Inc's Google places a large widget for the 2-year-old tool at the top of results for searches such as "call center jobs" in most of the world.

Some rivals allege that positioning is illegal because Google is using its dominance to attract users to its specialized search offering without the traditional marketing investments they have to make.

Other job technology firms say Google has restored industry innovation and competition.

The tensions expose a new front in the battle between Google and online publishers reliant on search traffic, just as EU and U.S. antitrust regulators heed calls to scrutinize tech giants including Google. Google so far over the last decade has withstood similar accusations from companies in local business and travel search.

Vestager, who has been examining job search on Google, leaves office Oct. 31. But a person familiar with the review told Reuters that Vestager is preparing an "intensive" handover so that her successor does not drop it. Her office declined to comment on the handoff.

Lack of action could spur Tuesday's signatories, which include British site Best Jobs Online to German peers Intermedia and Jobindex, to follow with formal complaints against Google to Vestager, a person familiar with the matter said.

Berlin-based StepStone GmbH, which operates 30 job websites globally, and another German search service already have taken that step, another person said.

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, which are examining online competition in the United States, declined to comment on whether they are probing Google's jobs search.

Industry executives universally expect that Google will sell ads in the jobs tool, as is typical for its services, enabling the world's biggest seller of online ads to claw billions of dollars in revenue from rivals.

Google long has been frustrated by other search engines filling its results, because they both add a step in users' quest for quick information and pose a threat to its ads empire.

Nick Zakrasek, senior product manager for Google search, said that the company welcomed the industry feedback on jobs search. Google said its offering addresses previous antitrust complaints by allowing rival search services to participate and includes a feature in Europe designed to give rivals prominence.

"Any provider - from individual employers to job listing platforms - can utilize this feature in search, and many of them have seen a significant increase in the number of job applications they receive," Zakrasek said in a statement. "By improving the search experience for jobs, we're able to deliver more traffic to sites across the web and support a healthy job search ecosystem."

Divisive Tool

Google includes jobs only from websites that follow its guidelines, which require postings to be structured such that its computers can easily interpret them. Many leading players have conformed.

For instance, Weston, Massachusetts-based Monster Worldwide Inc has implored customers through training materials to list salary ranges and jobsite addresses on postings in hopes that following Google's guidelines for such items will generate more clicks.

Monster had lost users in recent years because poor website formatting left it with low placement in regular Google results, its Chief Executive Scott Gutz said. The new tool gave Monster a path back to the top.

"There's been a leveling of the playing field," Gutz said.

Google's widget drew 120 million user clicks in June in the United States alone, about double from August 2017, according to research firm Jumpshot, which receives browsing data from antivirus apps.

Holmdel, New Jersey-based iCIMS Inc, which operates job websites for about 4,000 employers, said Google's tool is the third largest referrer of visitors to clients' pages and applicants from it are three times more likely to be hired than those from rival tools, it said.

"What we're already seeing with Google's entrance is better matching candidates to jobs," said Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer for iCIMS.

Frustrated are competitors such as Zippia, a San Mateo, California jobs search startup specializing in career path data. CEO Henry Shao said Google's jobs tool "pushes down" Zippia content in search results, making it more difficult to attract users unless it invests in following Google's guidelines.

Zippia lacks the resources to pursue formal complaints, but would aid investigators that call, Shao said.

Larger detractors include StepStone, a unit of media company and long-time Google critic Axel Springer <SPRGn.DE> which eschewed Google's guidelines on most of its jobs websites. Among concerns is that participants are handing over data that could help Google bypass them entirely.

The 23 firms pressing Vestager echoed that worry and said that Google including generic links to competing services high on its European jobs widget was not enough to ensure "equal treatment."

Austin, Texas-based Indeed, which has not formatted its website to participate in Google's tool, declined to comment.

Indeed's traffic from Google has dipped 5% since 2016, according to Jumpshot. It compensated by boosting advertising and pushing new paid offerings, affecting earnings growth, former employees said.

Owner Recruit Holdings Co Ltd <6098.T> forecasts that sales from its Indeed-dominated segment will grow 35% in the year ending March 31, 2020, compared to 50% the year earlier, while adjusted profit margin will be flat.

Eric Liaw, a general partner invested in workplace tech startups at Silicon Valley's Institutional Venture Partners, said Google has "to be careful about how much air they suck out of the room given the scrutiny they are under."

Does Public Interest in Specific Injuries Increase When They Occur During Mixed Martial Arts Bouts? A Study of Google Search Patterns - United States Sports Academy Sports Journal

Posted: 15 Aug 2019 04:37 AM PDT

Authors: William B. Roberts, MS; Michael E. Bibens BS; Matt Vassar, PhD.

Institution:Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Dept. of Institutional Research

Institution Address: 1111 West 17th Street, Tulsa, OK, 74107

Corresponding Author: William Roberts; 1111 West 17th Street, Tulsa, OK, 74107; will.roberts10@okstate.edu

Conflicts of Interest: The authors have nothing to disclose.

Does Public Interest in Specific Injuries Increase When They Occur During Mixed Martial Arts Bouts? A Study of Google Search Patterns

ABSTRACT:

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a combat sport that combines fighting techniques from many disciplines, such as wrestling, boxing, karate, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite this sport's popularity –  influenced by the internet and social media –  the effect of high-profile MMA injuries on the public's subsequent online search patterns has yet to be explored. In this study, we examined injuries from popular UFC bouts and observe whether the volume of Google searches for specific injuries increased after the associated fights. Google Trend (GT) searches were conducted in order to evaluate the relationship between fighter search popularity and injury search popularity during the week the fight took place. The percent change in search interest for injuries increased in 9 of 10 cases (Mdn = 446%, IQR: 168.75%-1643.75%). The findings of this study are expected to inform sports medicine personnel regarding specific platforms for sharing their insights and recommendations for the treatment and prevention of MMA injuries and other trauma-related injuries. This study highlights how investigation of public search interest may ultimately have a positive impact on health care outcomes.  Through the use of analyzing MMA injuries and the search patterns associated with them, the results of this study may aid sports medicine personnel in directing patients to online information that they have personally reviewed and approved.

Keywords: Google Trends, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Infodemiology, Public Interest, Altmetrics, Twitter

INTRODUCTION

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a combat sport based on the fighting techniques from many disciplines, such as wrestling, boxing, karate, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Bouts take place in an octagon-shaped cage and last either 3 or 5 rounds, depending on whether the bout is for a weight class championship. Fighters can defeat their opponent by knockout, referee stoppage, submission, or outscoring an opponent based upon the judges' decision (21). In the early 1990s MMA made its way to the United States as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Over time, the MMA has experienced a global surge in popularity and has attracted widespread media coverage (3,6).        

While the internet and social media have played an important role in advancing MMA popularity, these media outlets have also become a means to publicize fight injuries. For example, MMA fighters have shared radiographic images of their injuries with fans on social media to make these injuries appear more genuine and to stimulate public interest (26). In addition, these outlets may also be used by experts, such as orthopedic surgeons, to teach the public about MMA and other traumatic sports related orthopedic injuries. Approximately 21% of orthopedic surgeons have a Facebook or Twitter account, and they could potentially use these platforms to lower the frequency of these injuries and increase the accuracy of information available regarding their treatment (7).

Previous studies using GT data have examined the effects of awareness campaigns on searches for particular disorders, such as deep vein thrombosis, skin cancer, and breast cancer (15,17,29,30-32) Other studies have focused on the influence celebrities have on public awareness of various disorders. Studies on search interest after Katie Couric's colon cancer, Angelina Jolie's breast cancer, and Robin Williams's depression have found that public interest increased following a celebrity's statement about a diagnosis or treatment (4,8,12).

Despite previous GT studies, the effect of high-profile MMA injuries on the public's subsequent online search patterns has yet to be explored. This effect could be assessed by analyzing the frequency of Google keyword searches (5). Here we examine injuries from popular UFC bouts and observe whether the volume of Google searches for specific injuries increases after the associated fights. Results from this study may inform sports medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, athletic trainers, and others about public search interest in the UFC and related traumatic sports injuries at the time of occurrence (7,9). In turn, practitioners who diagnose, treat, and manage such injuries may consider creating a list of approved online resources with accurate information for their patients and social media followers.

METHODS

Data source    

Our sample of injuries was gathered from "Sherdog's Top 10 Worst UFC Injuries" available at www.sherdog.com (31). In addition to recording injury information, we recorded the name of the fighter sustaining the injury, the date of injury occurrence, and the fighter's popularity (measured by the number of Twitter followers).

Google Trends evaluation

Google Trends (GT) was used to evaluate search interest in these injuries before and after the bouts in question. GT is a free, publicly accessible online platform that captures temporal and geospatial internet search patterns for user-specified keywords (26). GT searches were conducted on June 4, 2018, by one of us (WR). GT can be searched using topics (i.e., a group of terms that share the same concept, in any language) or terms (i.e., search terms that show matches for all search terms in the query, in only the language searched). Searching by topic may be thought of as being more specific, while searching by term is more sensitive. For example, if one searches for the sport "Mixed Martial Arts" as a topic, users will see GT data for all searches related to MMA (e.g., UFC fighters, UFC bouts), but no search returns unrelated to MMA. In contrast, if one searches for "mixed martial arts" as a term, search returns related to mixed (e.g., mixed drinks), martial (e.g., dictionary definition of martial), and arts (e.g., local art museums). There is not a topic for everything, so in our study we used a combination of searches by topic and term.

Google Trends fighter-injury search

Each fighter was searched as a topic, and their injury was searched as a term. To illustrate this difference more clearly, when Leslie Smith was entered into GT, a drop-down menu provided a list of suggestions. The first suggestion was to search Leslie Smith as a term, and all other suggestions enabled searching Leslie Smith as a topic. We chose the topic Leslie Smith with the correct description (i.e., American mixed martial artist). The second part of each GT search included the injury that was sustained during the fight, searched as a term. For example, a complete search from this study included Leslie Smith (American mixed martial artist) and "cauliflower ear" as a term, and it yielded 2 sets of search data. Using this search combination allowed us to visualize spikes in the fighter and the injury occurring simultaneously. All our searches and their search filter settings are included in Table 1.

Table 1: Fighters and their characteristics.

Injured Fighter Google Trends Description Injury Searched Twitter followers Percent change in Injury Search Interest Number of Weeks to Return to Baseline Time Range Searched
Anderson Silva Brazilian mixed martial artist Broken Leg 8.08M 2600 3 weeks June 30, 2013-2014
Tim Sylvia American mixed martial arts fighter Dislocated Elbow 18.1K 2400 4 weeks Jan 25th, 2004-2005
Jon Jones American mixed martial artist Broken Toe 2.03M 1800 3 weeks Oct. 28th, 2012-2013
Rory MacDonald Canadian mixed martial artist Broken Nose 229K 1175 6 weeks Jan. 11th, 2015-2016
Antonia Rodrigo Nogueira Brazilian mixed martial artist Broken Arm 1.33M 525 5 weeks Jun. 12th, 2011-2012
Corey Hill American mixed martial artist Broken Leg No Twitter Account 367 6 weeks Jun. 15th, 2008-2009
Leslie Smith American mixed martial artist Cauliflower Ear 21.9K 225 2 weeks May. 18th, 2014-2015
Rich Franklin American mixed martial artist Broken Nose 200K 150 2 weeks Apr. 16th, 2006-2007
Mark Hominick Canadian mixed martial artist Hematoma 56.3K 112 3 weeks Oct. 31st 2010-2011
Brandon Vera Mixed martial artist Broken Jaw 101K 0 No change in interest Sept. 27th, 2009-2010

Google Trends filter application

To narrow the scope of each search we applied 4 filters: location, time range, category, and search type. The location filter was set to "worldwide." The time range filter for each fighter included data points 6 months before and 6 months after each fight. The category filter was "health," thus allowing us to compare search volumes of each fighter and injury to all searches in the health category (5,28) The search type filter was set to "web search."

Google Trends data scaling

GT data are not displayed as the total number of searches over time. Rather, GT accounts for search volume and population density in a certain region (13). Therefore, equal search volume will be charted differently for countries with different populations. This adjustment ensures that large populations, with higher raw numbers of search volumes, will not be perceived as always having the greatest interest in a search. Google Trends' data are scaled from 0 to 100 where 0 indicates no search data are available and 100 indicates the greatest search interest for a topic or search term (19). When multiple items are searched simultaneously on GT, only the item with the highest search interest peaks at 100. For example, if we search Leslie Smith and "cauliflower ear," only one of the plots of GT data will peak at 100. All other points in time for each plot will be scaled proportionally relative to the peak. When a spike in search interest for the fighter and injury occurred at the same time, we called this pattern of co-occurrence an "alignment."

Data analysis

To enhance the reproducibility of our search we applied recommendations from the Checklist for Documentation of Google Trends by Nuti et al (24). Because of the small sample size, we used nonparametric statistics to analyze our data. Non parametric tests are distribution independent tests which are useful while using medians for analysis (25). Thus, median (IQRs) were used to summarize the data. Spearman's rho was used to evaluate the association between the number of Twitter followers and the percent change in search behavior from baseline to peak. All statistical analyses were conducted using Stata 15.1.

RESULTS

Our sample size consisted of 10 injured fighters. The characteristics of these 10 fighters are shown in Table 1. The number of Twitter followers for each fighter ranged from 18.1K to 8.08 million. A co-occurring pattern was observed between searches for the fighter and for the injury (i.e., an alignment) in 9 of 10 cases (Figure 1). The percent change in search interest for injuries increased in 9 of 10 cases (median = 446%, IQR: 168.75%-1643.75%). Anderson Silva's broken leg and Tim Silvia's dislocated shoulder accounted for the greatest changes in search interest from baseline. Search interest for injuries returned to baseline in the ensuing weeks following each fight (median = 3weeks, IQR: 2.25-4.75 weeks). A moderate correlation was found between the number of Twitter followers and the percent change in search interest from baseline to peak (rs=.40)

Figure 1

DISCUSSION

Results from our study indicate that public interest in particular injuries increased following high-profile UFC fights. This finding may encourage timely dissemination of evidence-based information about particular injuries since search interest appears to increase shortly after injury occurrence. Here, we first discuss the roles of YouTube and social media in disseminating health information to large audiences in a timely manner. These two platforms are commonly used by the public to become familiar with recently occurring athletic injuries as well as sports medicine personnel when directing patients to online information that they have personally reviewed and approved. We then discuss potential avenues to maximize the accurate dissemination about sports-related injuries following bouts.

YouTube video accuracy

When the public seeks out health information on the internet, many options are available, and YouTube may be among the most popular of alternatives. An impressive body of literature is focused on the quality of health information presented to the public on YouTube. A systematic review on the use of YouTube to disseminate health information found that YouTube videos contain misleading information—mostly anecdotal—and the information often contradicts reference standards (23). Gonzalez-Estrada et al. (16) reported that the majority of YouTube videos on asthma management contained alternative approaches, such as live-fish ingestion and reflexology, as opposed to evidence-based treatments. In orthopedics, MacLeod et al. (22) found that information about femoroacetabular impingement on YouTube was of low overall quality, and a study on the X-stop device for lumbar spinal stenosis found that YouTube videos about the device contained a high degree of misinformation and failed to describe the controversy surrounding its use (2). Further, some studies have noted that reputable organizations (e.g., professional medical societies, disease-specific societies and organizations) are not producing videos on YouTube to combat the large volume of misinformation, and even when high-quality videos are available, they may not be prominently ranked by YouTube's search algorithm (1,18). Collectively, these studies call for the dissemination of better evidence-based information to the public. This current deficit in accurate health information is best addressed by the physicians with expertise on the topic. Lander et al. (20) reported that one-third of orthopedic surgeons in their sample had posted at least 1 YouTube video, and this platform may be important for knowledge dissemination, given its fairly high use by orthopedic surgeons and the public.

Social media for dissemination

Social media presents another popular option for the dissemination of health care information. It has been estimated that only 21% of United States-based orthopedic surgeons have Facebook pages and 14% have Twitter accounts (7). However, given that 50% of orthopedic patients use social media, and of these, sports medicine patients use these platforms more than patients in all other orthopedic subspecialties (9), it seems prudent for the sports medicine community to use these platforms for disseminating accurate health information. Social media outlets are efficient mechanisms for releasing information in real time, and they could easily be used to provide accurate information about particular injuries that occur during sporting events, such as UFC fights. Djuricich (10) introduced the concept of evidence-based tweeting as one approach to quickly making research evidence available to large audiences.

Strengths and weaknesses

Our study has several strengths. We used the checklist by Nuti et al. (24) when developing the search strategies for this study to make our searches reproducible. We made careful use of the search functionality of GT and gave thorough consideration to each search term. Our study also had limitations. For one, the fights we selected were based on a ranking provided by Sherdog. While this site is widely used in the MMA community, there is a possibility of bias in these rankings. There are also limitations inherent in using GT data. For example, all data associated with GT are anonymous, which limits the ability of researchers to make assertions regarding the search patterns of different patient groups. Also, data are normalized, which limited our ability to examine the true magnitude of search volumes that could be obtained from raw search data. Furthermore, not all internet searches are conducted using the Google search engine.

CONCLUSIONS

Understanding the ways in which the public prefers to search for information on injuries may aid sports medicine personnel in directing patients to online information that they have personally reviewed and approved. Thus, sports medicine personnel may play a contributing role in increasing the accuracy of online health by decreasing the amount of inaccurate information that is accessible by the public (11,14).

The findings of this study are expected to inform orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine doctors, and athletic trainers on the specific electronically based platforms of which to disseminate their insights and recommendations for treatment and prevention of MMA injuries and other trauma-related injuries. This use of social media and online websites could lead to increased accuracy of online health information and ultimately improve treatment and prevention of these associated injuries. More broadly, this study highlights how investigation of public search interest may have a positive impact on health care outcomes.

REFERENCES

1.     Adhikari J, Sharma P, Arjyal L, Uprety D. 2016. YouTube as a Source of Information on Cervical Cancer. N. Am. J. Med. Sci. 8(4):183–86

2.     Anderson JT, Sullivan TB, Ahn UM, Ahn NU. 2014. Analysis of Internet information on the controversial X-Stop device. Spine J. 14(10):2412–19

3.     Bledsoe GH, Hsu EB, Grabowski JG, Brill JD, Li G. 2006. Incidence of injury in professional mixed martial arts competitions. J. Sports Sci. Med. 5(CSSI):136–42

4.     Brigo F. 2015. Impact of news of celebrity illness on online search behavior: the "Robin Williams" phenomenon'. J. Public Health . 37(3):555–56

5.     Brigo F, Trinka E. 2015. Google search behavior for status epilepticus. Epilepsy Behav. 49:146–49

6.     Buse GJ. 2006. No holds barred sport fighting: a 10 year review of mixed martial arts competition. Br. J. Sports Med. 40(2):169–72

7.     Call T, Hillock R. 2017. Professionalism, social media, and the Orthopaedic Surgeon: What do you have on the Internet? Technol. Health Care. 25(3):531–39

8.     Cram P, Fendrick AM, Inadomi J, Cowen ME, Carpenter D, Vijan S. 2003. The impact of a celebrity promotional campaign on the use of colon cancer screening: the Katie Couric effect. Arch. Intern. Med. 163(13):1601–5

9.     Curry E, Li X, Nguyen J, Matzkin E. 2014. Prevalence of internet and social media usage in orthopedic surgery. Orthop. Rev. . 6(3):5483

10.   Djuricich AM. 2014. Social media, evidence-based tweeting, and JCEHP. J. Contin. Educ. Health Prof. 34(4):202–4

11.   Dy CJ, Taylor SA, Patel RM, Kitay A, Roberts TR, Daluiski A. 2012. The effect of search term on the quality and accuracy of online information regarding distal radius fractures. J. Hand Surg. Am. 37(9):1881–87

12.   Evans DG, Barwell J, Eccles DM, Collins A, Izatt L, et al. 2014. The Angelina Jolie effect: how high celebrity profile can have a major impact on provision of cancer related services. Breast Cancer Res. 16(5):442

13.   Explore results by region – Trends Help. https://support.google.com/trends/answer/4355212?hl=en&ref_topic=4365530

14.   Fabricant PD, Dy CJ, Patel RM, Blanco JS, Doyle SM. 2013. Internet search term affects the quality and accuracy of online information about developmental hip dysplasia. J. Pediatr. Orthop. 33(4):361–65

15.   Glynn RW, Kelly JC, Coffey N, Sweeney KJ, Kerin MJ. 2011. The effect of breast cancer awareness month on internet search activity–a comparison with awareness campaigns for lung and prostate cancer. BMC Cancer. 11:442

16.   Gonzalez-Estrada A, Cuervo-Pardo L, Ghosh B, Smith M, Pazheri F, et al. 2015. Popular on YouTube: a critical appraisal of the educational quality of information regarding asthma. Allergy Asthma Proc. 36(6):e121–26

17.   Hay J, Coups EJ, Ford J, DiBonaventura M. 2009. Exposure to mass media health information, skin cancer beliefs, and sun protection behaviors in a United States probability sample. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 61(5):783–92

18.   Ho M, Stothers L, Lazare D, Tsang B, Macnab A. 2015. Evaluation of educational content of YouTube videos relating to neurogenic bladder and intermittent catheterization. Can. Urol. Assoc. J. 9(9-10):320–54

19.   How Trends data is adjusted – Trends Help. https://support.google.com/trends/answer/4365533?hl=en&ref_topic=6248052

20.   Lander ST, Sanders JO, Cook PC, O'Malley NT. 2017. Social Media in Pediatric Orthopaedics. J. Pediatr. Orthop. 37(7):e436–39

21.   Lystad RP, Gregory K, Wilson J. 2014. The Epidemiology of Injuries in Mixed Martial Arts: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Orthop J Sports Med. 2(1):2325967113518492

22.   MacLeod MG, Hoppe DJ, Simunovic N, Bhandari M, Philippon MJ, Ayeni OR. 2015. YouTube as an information source for femoroacetabular impingement: a systematic review of video content. Arthroscopy. 31(1):136–42

23.   Madathil KC, Rivera-Rodriguez AJ, Greenstein JS, Gramopadhye AK. 2015. Healthcare information on YouTube: A systematic review. Health Informatics J. 21(3):173–94

24.   Nuti SV, Wayda B, Ranasinghe I, Wang S, Dreyer RP, et al. 2014. The use of google trends in health care research: a systematic review. PLoS One. 9(10):e109583

25.   Mircioiu C, Atkinson J. 2017. A Comparison of Parametric and Non-Parametric Methods Applied to a Likert Scale. Pharmacy (Basel). 5(2):

26.   Radin M, Sciascia S. 2017. Infodemiology of systemic lupus erythematous using Google Trends. Lupus. 26(8):886–89

27.   Rahmani G, Joyce CW, McCarthy P. 2017. The sharing of radiological images by professional mixed martial arts fighters on social media. Acta Radiol Open. 6(6):2058460117716703

28.   Refine Trends results by category – Trends Help. https://support.google.com/trends/answer/4359597?hl=en&ref_topic=4365530

29.   Scheres LJJ, Lijfering WM, Middeldorp S, Cannegieter SC. 2016. Influence of World Thrombosis Day on digital information seeking on venous thrombosis: a Google Trends study. J. Thromb. Haemost. 14(12):2325–28

30.   Sherdog.com. Sherdog's Top 10: Worst UFC Injuries – Top 10. Sherdog. http://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/1/Sherdogs-Top-10-Worst-UFC-Injuries-105257

31.   Troelstra SA, Bosdriesz JR, de Boer MR, Kunst AE. 2016. Effect of Tobacco Control Policies on Information Seeking for Smoking Cessation in the Netherlands: A Google Trends Study. PLoS One. 11(2):e0148489

32.   Wood LN, Jamnagerwalla J, Markowitz MA, Thum DJ, McCarty P, et al. 2018. Public Awareness of Uterine Power Morcellation Through US Food and Drug Administration Communications: Analysis of Google Trends Search Term Patterns. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 4(2):e47

FIGURE LEGENDS
Figure 1. Google search volumes for the injured UFC fighter and the particular injury. Searches were conducted 6 months pre- and post injury. Dotted blue lines represent the fighter. Solid orange lines represent the injury.

Google Top Places List Out of Beta – Uses Machine Learning - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 06 Aug 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Google's Top Places List feature is officially out of beta. Google updated the Top Places developer page with new information indicating that the Top Places List feature is now automated by a machine learning algorithm.

What is Google Top Places List?

The Top Places List is a Google feature that displays related information about a specific place. If a restaurant is mentioned in several top ten type lists, Google will display that information so that users can learn more about that business.

Google Top Places List is Out of Beta

Google's developer page for the Top Places List feature was updated on August 5, 2019.  The Top Places List developers page now indicates the use of machine learning to select the top places lists.

Previously there was no mention of using algorithms to select and display top places for display.

The page also used to host a link to a sign up page to have your list of top places included in the formerly beta program.

Screenshot of top places list sign up link

Top Places List Uses Machine Learning

The biggest change to the Google Top Places List feature is that it is now generated by a machine learning algorithm.

This is what the developer page used to say:

"The Google Top Places List displays themed lists from authoritative publishers so that users can browse through selections from a trusted source as they decide where to go."

Now it mentions the use of machine learning:

"The Top Places List uses machine learning to display themed lists from authoritative publishers so that users can browse through selections from a trusted source as they decide where to go."

Google Offers an Opt-out

The bottom of the developers page now offers small businesses the ability to opt-out of the Top Places List feature. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/3035947

However, it appears that choosing to opt out may keep you out of Google Local entirely, so that your business will not appear in any local searches.

This is what the opt out page says:

"You can opt out of having content that Google has crawled from your site displayed on various Google properties:

Google Shopping
Google Flights
Google Hotels
Google Local (specialized search results pages that trigger in response to a local query)"

Google's Opt Out Page is Vague

There is nothing on that page about opting out of Top Places List. Clicking the "View or change" link button takes you to the search console where there is only a drop down of verified domains and a button that reads Opt Out.

Screenshot of Google Search Console Opt Out Page

It sure would be bad to click that button and have your site kicked out of Google. The page doesn't inform the user what's on the other side of that Opt Out button. It feels like clicking the Opt Out button will open trap door beneath your website from which it will never heard from again.

View an Archive.org snapshot of the original Top Places List beta page here.

Read the newly updated Top Places List developers page here.

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