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Google Blames ‘Bug’ for Burying Yelp and TripAdvisor Search Results

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Mobile search is growing 5% a year, while PC-based searches are falling. Photograph by SeongJoon Cho — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Over the weekend, companies Yelp and TripAdvisor noticed that Google searches for their businesses on mobile would show their results below those of Google’s own services.

Though it seems like a suspicious move on Google’s (GOOGL) part, the company said on Tuesday that it’s just the result of a code bug, and it’s working on a fix, according to Re/code.

Yet the companies aren’t particularly convinced, especially not Yelp (YELP) co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. “Far from a glitch, this is a pattern of behavior by Google,” he told Re/code.

Both Yelp and TripAdvisor (TRIP) have filed complaints as part of the European Union’s case against Google for anticompetitive behavior. Their particular complaints center on just this: that Google is unfairly promoting its own products over that of competitors like them. As part of an Federal Trade Commission probe, internal documents surfaced, which outline the company’s use of “co-occurrence signals” to trigger search results for Google’s own products as well.

In the case with Yelp and TripAdvisor over the weekend, Google is not only showing its own competing services but also placing them above the competitors’, even if they’re less relevant.