Several smaller and more specialised search engines have accused Google of systemically promoting its own content over internet marketing services provided by them, it has been claimed.

An article in the Wall Street Journal noted some of the complainants, including TripAdvisor.com, WebMD.com and Yelp.com, believe the activities of the site are harming their own businesses.

It quoted Jay Herratti, chief executive of CityGrid Media, as one of those who stated Google was hurting the growth of his services, although he added it is very difficult to accurately measure the impact.

"There is no denying that today Google is competing [with many websites] for the same web traffic and the same advertising dollars," he told the publication.

Another executive to criticise Google was Stephen Kaufer of TripAdvisor, who claimed the traffic the organisation sent to his site dropped by ten per cent shortly after the search engine made changes to the way it displayed local businesses, the newspaper said.

The accusations are also the focus of an anti-trust enquiry recently announced into the corporation by the European Commission, which will investigate to see whether its practices break competition laws.

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