One main aim of search marketing companies is to boost the visibility of their clients within the results pages of search engines, with a particular focus on Google. This is no surprise considering the search giant currently rules search. New figures released from ComScore estimate that 86% of all online searches in Europe go through Google alongside dominating two thirds of the search marketing in the US. However, having such a distinguished and established stance in the world of search leads to Google regularly coming under scrutiny.
Back in 2010, an antitrust enquiry was opened by the European Commission against Google following complaints off competitors about the way Google was conducting its search and advertising businesses. The antitrust enquiry was launched to distinguish whether Google unfairly used its dominance in search by favouring links to its own services as opposed to its competitors, whether its advertising business complied with European antitrust law and whether it disadvantaged its competitors by including material from other websites in the search results.
It has recently been announced that the European Commission has accepted Google’s proposed settlement. The new proposal will see various changes coming into practice however these proposed changes will not be seen for a month whilst rivals in the market can weigh in on the plan, which is a process known as market testing.
The new proposal will not result in any changes to the algorithm that produces the search results for the search engine however various other changes are to be implemented. These changes are going to be monitored by a third party to ensure compliance. The new proposal will see the search empire legally bound for 5 years to uphold the changes. If they fail to do so, they could face a penalty of 10% of their global annual sales.
To remain in line with the settlement, Google will be required to clearly label search results that are directly related to themselves, for example Google + local or Google News. With regards to paid advertisements, Google will be required to show links to at least three competitors. If all search results are paid advertisements then Google will be required to auction off the links to rivals.
The search giant will also now give websites the option to prevent their online content from being included in its vertical search properties whilst allowing them to stay in the general search results. Google will also make it easier for small businesses to move their ad campaigns to other search engines.
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