Google has denied penalising rival iTunes on its search engine, after it was revealed that links to the Apple store were ‘hidden’ from results pages.
Since Tuesday morning searches for iOS apps on Google weren’t resulting in overt links to Apple’s iTunes Store.
Direct links to apps on iTunes appeared deeper within Google’s search results than usual.
Reports of the changes to the search results were first made public on Facebook by AppsFire co-founder Ouriel Ohayon.
“Something really weird start to happen on google [sic],” he said. “It has become impossible to find iPhone and iPad apps looking for them in the search engine with a normal query,” he said.
Several tech news sources looked into Ohayon’s complaint and realized it wasn’t only WhatsApp that was having query issues, but that several iTunes app pages weren’t being listed at the top of Google search results.
After much speculation about whether Google was playing a nasty trick on Apple, the Web giant said the whole thing was just a technical blip.
Speaking to technology news site The Verge a Google spokesperson said: We’ve been having some issues fetching pages from the iTunes web servers, and as a result some people may have had problems finding iTunes apps in search easily. We’re working with the team there to ensure search users can find what they’re looking for.”
The explanation lines up with a brief analysis from Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, who speculates that a typical “duplicate content problem” has split rankings for various iTunes pages.