Google’s favourable search techniques lambasted by Yelp internal documents

Yelp has been handing around documents that detail the unfair ride it thinks Google is giving its service in search results that add prominence to Google+ over any other service.

Related: EU competition commissioner denies gentlemen’s agreement with Google

Internal documents, which have been seen by TechCrunch, show that Yelp is sufficiently worried by the situation to compare US results to those made in Europe and this was what pushed it to join an European Union [EU] antitrust case against Google’s search tactics.

The first document details searches made for “hotels sf” using an IP address in the US and one in Belgium, where the EU antitrust case is being heard. When the US IP is used the top results are hotels on Google+ surrounded by a black carousel. When each one is clicked a large picture of a map of the hotel takes up around half of the right side of the screen. As well as a map there is the option to follow the business, book a room at the hotel, read reviews or view other hotels that people searched for.

When carrying out the same search via Google.bg there is neither a carousel in place or the large content card and TechCrunch’s source at Yelp thinks Google is doing this to downplay its manipulation of results until a settlement in Europe is reached.

Yelp’s second study is marked “confidential” and is in the form of a user-behaviour paper that allows Yelp to ascertain what users click on when using Google’s search pages.

The example used, Gary Danko restaurant, doesn’t even return a Yelp page as the first result when “Gary Danko Yelp” is typed in as the search term and this resulted in almost 20 per cent going to the default Google+ page as a result.

The EU has been probing Google’s practices since 2010 when smaller companies accused it of demoting results in favour of its own results, the same thing that Yelp is now accusing Google of doing in the US.

Related: Google given ultimatum in European antitrust case

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Google, which accounts for 90 per cent of searches in Europe and 70 per cent in the US, has yet to reach an agreement with the EU and any such deal could influence the US to take similar steps.

Image Credit: TechCrunch