Raising concerns in the SEO worldGoogle recently launched Place Pages, a new feature for Maps that aggregates a variety of information from several sources for all kinds of 'places'. While the feature has a lot of potential and could proven very useful there are some that are worried that Google may use its position to favor it over similar competing products in its search results despite the company claiming it doesn't index the URLs for the locations.
There isn't any evidence that Google is indeed pushing Places results up in the searches and the company may not crawl the pages but they still show up in search results and can still rank. When it launched the product last week Google used the Burdick Chocolate Cafe in Boston as an example Place page. This link got carried around as more people reported on the new product and now a search for the place on Google will list the Places page for it as the second result, as Mike Blumenthal found. At the same time Google is also showing the local business box part of the Unified Search on top of the results, which also links to the Places page.
The issue here is that Google traditionally has stayed away from redirecting searches to its own services through the search results, though it hasn't shied away from inserting them as complimentary options. But as Google gets involved with more and more products and becomes a content creator or at least aggregator it will be harder to separate the different services.
At the same time, Google's search algorithm is a closely guarded secret and there is no actual way of knowing if it were to favor its own products. The search giant is most likely trying to avoid any situations like these as it already has enough attention from regulating bodies with anti-trust concerns especially with its Books project. With time though it may become harder and harder for Google to preserve its image.