GOOGLE DECLARES SWEEPING CHANGES IN SEARCH TO AVOID EU FINES – On the 11th April 2013 the EU Commission found Google guilty of manipulating its search results in order to favour its own services, such as Google News and YouTube, over its competitors.
In order to stave off the prospect of huge fines Google has announced sweeping changes to its search results that should see rival websites getting better positioning in the search engine results.
In true Google fashion it has refused to say exactly what changes will be made to its algorithms in order to comply; this has always been hidden to prevent, what Google defends, the ability by Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services to manipulate its search results.
Google did announced that it would ‘label’ more clearly search results from its own services and allow rival firms to feature more prominently. The EU Commission is set to test and monitor the changes once they come into effect.
Many large websites have been crying foul for sometime over what they believe was algorithmic tampering by Google in order to feature its services high in any search results. Services such as YouTube have little in the way of content on the page and yet it is widely known that Google will penalize a webpage that has little or no text on a page.
It was last year that the U.S Federal Trade Commission found Google, NOT guilty, of manipulating its search engine results under ‘fair trade’ practices and many in the industry was shocked at the Commission’s findings. With the now open outcome of the EU Commissions findings some are asking how the EU could find such wide spread abuse and yet the U.S Federal Trade Commission could not.
The investigation has taken three years into a business that enjoys an almost near ‘monopoly’ in Europe which has accrued billions of dollars in profits for Google in advertising and other services.
The EU Commission recommended a number of sweeping changes and challenged Google that non-compliance would result in huge financial penalties.
Another area of concern is that fact that Google displays AdWord Ads before all search results and to the right hand side of its search results; something Google openly penalizes other website for doing under its controversial ‘Page Layout Algorithm’ that penalizes websites that have multiple Ads ‘above the fold’.
Many insiders have commented that the EU has taken a much harder line with Google than its U.S counterpart and maybe it’s time that the U.S Federal Trade Commission and the U.S Justice Department undertake a more thorough examination of Google’s unfair trade practices.
Last week other companies, led by Microsoft, filed another EU antitrust complaint against Google with the allegations that it uses dominant position of its Android smartphone operating system to manipulate its own services, effectively squeezing out any fair competition.
While many large corporations battle with Google, including Microsoft, it is still the small and medium-sized enterprises that are suffering the most. Regardless of on-going innovation it is almost impossible for start-ups to compete with Google and without Google, and the traffic it delivers via search, most websites cannot survive.