Is Google Maps Piggybacking off of Yelp (Again)?

I just saw something I’ve never seen: an organic search result for a business listed on Yelp.com, with a gray Google Map pin as part of the search result.

Take a look at this:

That was when I typed in that business from my crib in North Attleboro, MA.  I cleared my browser cache and then changed the search location to Chicago, and what I saw was even more striking:

So, no, it wasn’t an accident: the “blended” Google local search result had the gray map pin, as it always does.  But the Yelp search result had it, too!

The map pin links to maps.google.com – the “Maps” tab – of course.

I’ll be on the lookout for more instances of this.  It’s probably a test, but if it is, I don’t know the scope of it at this stage.

My thought is Google may be moving in the direction of duly giving Yelp reviews special prominence – at least in the organic results, albeit not on businesses’ Google+Local pages.  That would be a nice symbiosis.  Dare we say it’s the birth of “blended Yelp search results”?

On the other hand, maybe Google is just trying to siphon off some visitors who’d click on Yelp results.

On the third hand (wait a minute…), maybe Google isn’t doing anything right now and it’s just a short-lived test.

Whatever the case, it would be a strange partnership – but who doesn’t like a strange partnership?

 

Your thoughts?

Note: check out Mike Blumenthal’s post about an observation similar to this one.