China kept Google out of its country, and now Europe is declaring war on Google, with competitors Yelp and TripAdvisor joining in. The two U.S. companies are starting a “focus on the user” campaign to raise awareness about its accusation against the search giant Goliath, namely, that it gives preferential placement to its own reviews on its search engine, as reported by FT.com.
This adds to the headaches Google is running into with anti-trust hearings in Europe. Google hoped the claims, brought by 20 competitors among them Microsoft (no stranger to anti-trust legislation) and Expedia, could be settled promptly, but the European competition commissioner rejected Google’s third proposal for a settlement.
Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Trip Advisor say that results for Google plus, its social networking site with 540 million users, regularly feature its own services at the top of its search engine. Google didn’t deny this, but management feels it does not involve wrongdoing, and has promised to feature competitors more prominently in searches. Gunther Oettinger, who is going to become EU’s digital commissioner, wrote in Der Spiegel, “we have to limit the market power of Google.” The company, feeling it was under attack, criticized Yelp for knocking Google simply for answering customers questions.
Yelp management fired back that answering questions was not a problem, it is just that Google should stop answering those questions exclusively powered by Google plus, “to the detriment of users.” Google points out the critics are biting the hand that feeds them. In a recent earnings call, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said the site had experienced an increase in traffic thanks to Google after the search engine tweaked its algorithm.