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Yelp Accuses Google of Manipulating Search Results Again

Yelp is still trying to prove that Google is manipulating search results to promote Google+ content over Yelp content. According to internal documents leaked to TechCrunch, Yelp reveals the results of an internal user-behavior study that looked at where users clicked on a Google search result page. The small-scale study shows that in some cases when a person searched for "a restaurant's name and the word 'yelp'" the first result was the restaurant's webpage attached to Google content like a Google Places review, a link to the restaurant's Google+ page, and a link to Google Maps. The Yelp page link that the person was looking for appeared second on the page even though "Yelp" was among the search terms.

The review site is also accusing Google of "blatantly highlighting" its own products when searches are made in the US but that it does not do so in the EU. Yelp believes that Google unfairly does this to "avoid angering EU regulators" who are currently reviewing antitrust complaints filed against the tech giant.

The battle between the two sites began in 2009 when Google failed to acquire Yelp for $500 million and it appears Google has been bitter ever since. Google eventually turned to scraping Yelp reviews, without attribution, to populate Google Places. Written testimony from the Senate antitrust hearings in 2011 on whether or not Google was acting unfairly revealed that in some instances, Google would unjustly exclude competitor results "as a matter of design, not as a matter of objective, algorithmically-driven analysis." Google even used to run deceptive ads for Zagat (which it acquired in 2011) on mobile searches for "Yelp": The top ad would link to Zagat even though it would say "Yelp."

Yelp has also been accused of manipulating search results in the past. Earlier this year, a Toronto-area restaurant owner alleged that the review site was "highlighting negative reviews of his business and hiding positive ones." Others have claimed that the site removed positive reviews of their restaurants because they would not agree to pay for advertising. Yelp has even been sued for allegedly having reps contact restaurant owners and offering to hide or delete negative review for a fee. And so the search result wars continue.

· Yelp Thinks It's Getting Screwed By Google [TechCrunch]
· All Yelp Coverage on Eater [-E-]