Jeremy Sussman, a Google Local Product Manager has been pretty frank and clear with people in the Google Places forum. In one Google Places Help thread, he said, and I quote:
I can assure you that the last thing we want is for the business who hires the best SEO to win a better slot. But, the SEOs are, unfortunately, pretty good at what they do, and so sometimes they out smart us.
You read that? To not take it too much out of context, the thread is about why certain sites rank above others. Someone was upset his business ranked lower than another in Google Maps. Jeremy from Google said, "a simple answer like "the closest to you" is not always the right answer. But, all things being equal, the closest to you is the right answer. Figuring out the relative weights of the different factors in the rankings is one of the most difficult parts of our algorithm." But then goes on to explain that some SEOs know how to manipulate stuff and he simply isn't a fan.
Jeremy was also pretty straight in another Google Places Help thread where he said:
You know what I love about the help forum? Every now and then someone points out a problem that is not merely "my business is not ranked where I want it to be" but rather represents a real hole in our system. csteinle, this post definitely falls into that latter category.
I could make excuses about how hard it is to recognize the difference between two things that have the same name and very similar locations, but I would be out on a semi-defensible limb. Bottom line here is we need to fix this. And we will. Stay tuned.
So two bold statements, statements we rarely see worded this way from a Googler. One somewhat dissing SEOs and the other one where he admits Google failure, for now.
What is your take?