EU Targets Google

While there are other search engines in use, Google is, by far, the most prominent, owning about 66 percent of the search market share in the US and 80 percent in Europe. Google is a dominant force, and many SEO campaigns are tailored specifically towards making it to the SERPs of this engine. This is why news that Google may be rigging its searches is so disturbing to so many, both in the search engine optimisation industry, as well as the web world as well. The European Commission, the antitrust watchdog of the EU, has launched a probe into Google’s actions, looking for evidence that the search giant abused its dominant position.

Google’s well-known informal slogan is “Don’t be evil.” British price-comparison site, Foundem, shopping site Ciao, and French legal search engine, are taking exception with this, saying Google has in fact done evil. Or the corporate version of evil. The three search sites accuse Google of fixing its algorithms in order to give preference to its own search and price comparison sites. Foundem’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Adam Raff, says, “Search plays a unique role in steering traffic and revenues through the global digital economy. It means that Google is not just a monopoly, it is probably the most powerful monopoly in history.”

For its part, Google argues that Foundem and the other sites just don’t have the content relevancy needed to rank well. Google says that Foundem “duplicates 79 percent of its website content from other sites,” for instance.

The EU is showing signs that it disagrees with Google’s practices, and Google has good reason to be a bit concerned with the Commission.  This same Commission fined Intel $1.45 billion (1.7 billion Euros) when it found that they skewed the market by paying PC manufacturers and retailers not to use chips made by rival companies. They also battled a $2 billion fine from Microsoft over the issue of bundling software into Windows.

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Germany’s Justice Minister commented on Google’s “megalomania,” and the search engine’s once stellar reputation has taken on a darker cast among many European nations.  This is not expected to change SEO practices now, but in the future, we could be seeing Google operating under tighter restrictions – or with a billion or two chopped out of their budget.

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