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EU Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Google
Brett_Tabke




msg:4086073
 2:23 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

[telegraph.co.uk...]
The European Commission has launched an anti-trust investigation against Google after three online companies alleged that the internet giant’s search functions were penalising their businesses.

The investigation comes under the Lisbon Treaty’s “abuse of dominant position” powers and is the first time that Google has been targeted by the European Union.

Foundem claims that Google lifted the “penalty” in December, resulting in an increase in traffic from Google searches of “10,000pc overnight”.

 

mcavic




msg:4086085
 3:07 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Whereas these penalties used to be reserved for spam, or sites caught attempting to cheat Google’s algorithms, they are now increasingly targeted at perfectly legitimate vertical search and directory services.

Sounds good. If I search for sites about widgets, I want to see sites about widgets, not sites linking to sites about widgets. Or am I missing the point?

Nobias




msg:4086090
 3:26 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

As always, Gorg blames their robots and 'imperfect technology' (adding that their intentions have always been impartial and crystal clear).

walkman




msg:4086093
 3:36 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is interesting. The algo is secret (obvious reasons) and no one doubts that G has has the right to penalize spammers, but what if they block a competitor out of 70% of SE searches? Why you blocked us Google? Please see the Google guidelines..blah, blah

KenB




msg:4086096
 3:44 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Like Mcavic suggested, I have no problems with Google excluding directory sites from their listings or at least downgrading them. If I do a search for widgets, I want sites about widgets, not a directory of sites about widgets. Directory sites being able to rank well in search results would just pollute SERPs with useless noise that isn't helpful to the end user.

mack




msg:4086100
 3:55 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Out of the three companies involved one is owned by Microsoft and another receives funding from Microsoft.

I agree it is about time Google got some attention from the EU, but in this case I think Google are in the right. I honestly see no benefit to the user of being sent to a directory from a results page. This entire case is just very wrong.

Mack.

youfoundjake




msg:4086109
 4:15 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just did a web speed test on one of the sites listed, and it took 37 seconds to download the page. The other site looks like they just list all the results from amazon.co.uk. The third site appears to be a search engine that uses google search to pull in the results. No wonder these sites are getting penalized, I can't see what real use they provide to me.

zett




msg:4086117
 4:47 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some say the E.U. is a useless heap of bureaucrats. Sometimes, just sometimes, I have to disagree.

Great step into the right direction, Europe!

lammert




msg:4086128
 5:21 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Two of the three sites (the price comparison site and the second-tier search engine) are the types of site which make me press the "Remove from my personalized search results" button as soon as I spot them. Maybe Google just parses these requests and reduces ranking for those sites on a global scale? In that case these three companies should sue all individual Google users instead for marking their site as useless.

willybfriendly




msg:4086130
 5:34 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I honestly see no benefit to the user of being sent to a directory from a results page.


Directories can have value - particularly regional directories of local B&M businesses. Think of it as cooperative SEO. None of the little guys has enough oomph to rank on their own, but together - in a directory - they can do OK.

Don't tell me about local search. Still a very imperfect beast...

JS_Harris




msg:4086187
 7:40 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

after three online companies alleged that the internet giant�s search functions were penalising their businesses.



So what? I can whip up a search engine right now that doesn't rank specific sites well and that's my prerogative. Google can rank any site however they see fit and the European Commission doesn't have the authority to say otherwise.

jecasc




msg:4086231
 9:15 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

First of all: So far it is only an investigation. Which means they are looking into it. Might turn out that Google was perfectly in the right.

However: If you get kicked out of the Google SERPS, get kicked out of Adwords you are pretty much screwed and can close your business. And Google is dominating the European Search Market even more than the US Search market.

For this kind of dominant market position and for this kind of power Google is simply not living up to the accountability and transparency needed. If you get kicked out of the Google SERPS, which often pretty much means you are ruined - a canned automated response refering to some obscure - open to interpretation - guidelines is simply not good enough.

Google also has a history of sudden changes in it's policy. You have a business model that is perfectly legitimate and overnight you get kicked out of the SERPS or out of Adwords because of some sudden policy change: "Sorry we at google choose to no longer do business with you."

Google can rank any site however they see fit and the European Commission doesn't have the authority to say otherwise.

You are wrong on both. Google can't and yes, the European Commission can. If you begin to dominate the market the normal rules of business do no longer apply, and you become subject to anti trust regulations. Which can include measures like "obligation to contract". Which means you can no longer freely choose with whom you do business but have to justify if you decline to do business with someone.

This is about transparency and accountability.

[edited by: jecasc at 9:42 am (utc) on Feb 24, 2010]

incrediBILL




msg:4086234
 9:26 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

they are now increasingly targeted at perfectly legitimate vertical search and directory services


I know a bunch of directories that got penalized for raw outbound links to bad neighborhoods as I helped a couple of them clean up their mess.

Once the bad site links were removed, they got re-included.

If this is what the issue was, I think Google's clearly in their right to penalize directories that don't have the ability to provide clean and safe listings to their visitors.

davidof




msg:4086239
 9:30 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Two of the three sites (the price comparison site and the second-tier search engine) are the types of site which make me press the "Remove from my personalized search results" button as soon as I spot them.


It is crazy when you search for niche terms just how many bottom feeders there are out there contributing nothing to the web. If Google can exclude more of these from general search without having to hand filter it is a good thing in my opinion.

davidof




msg:4086243
 9:37 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

In fact Foundem doesn't seem to rank well in Bing.com. Their website has virtually zero content of any indexable value in a very competitive market. I'm surprised anyone can find the site through any search engine.

sullen




msg:4086253
 9:58 am on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

So what? I can whip up a search engine right now that doesn't rank specific sites well and that's my prerogative


But you wouldn't have a dominant market position and therefore that would be fine.

A market position like google has (over 90% of searches in the UK, and such a habit among web users that many just type in company names rather than type in the url) is a very dangerous thing. and while I agree that they are probably right to rank sites above directories, they are effectively a benign dictator of the web. The EU are right to investigate, regardless of who the complainants are.

Hissingsid




msg:4086366
 2:02 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)


System: The following message was spliced on to this thread from: http://www.webmasterworld.com/goog/4086550.htm [webmasterworld.com] by tedster - 1:02 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (EST -5)


There was a piece on the BBC radio news this morning in which a female exec from "Foundem" was explaining some of the ways that (in her opinion) Google abuses its dominant position and "misrepresents" itself as an "independent and unbiased search engine". She gave examples of where Google injects results such as video results and shopping results where it has a direct commercial interest. She stated that this was particularly important because Google is the gateway to the Internet with over 90% market share.

The full story is here:
[news.bbc.co.uk...]

I think that the European Competition Commission will be concerned by the monopoly position that Google holds and the way that it is alleged to be misrepresenting itself and the end to which it is using the combined effect of those things.

Cheers

Sid

Edge




msg:4087045
 2:00 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

In fact Foundem doesn't seem to rank well in Bing.com. Their website has virtually zero content of any indexable value in a very competitive market. I'm surprised anyone can find the site through any search engine.


I agree, they don't even have thier page titles right. I counted 81 backlinks on GG and 36,847 iinlinks on Yahoo. This is nothing if one wants search engine traffic.

I don't think google is picking on them - they need a SEO training.

Whitey




msg:4087417
 10:29 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I doubt if they would be as motivated to file the complaint if their SEO was OK and they were producing results.

But this all helps to stir up the sentiment that Google's hold in online distribution is all powerful.

Getting a successful anti trust case up is going to take a long time and even then, what will happen. I'm sure Google has a strategy in play to deal with all of this.

Zacharias




msg:4089585
 12:03 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

We are not talking about whether these sites are SEO friendly, clearly they were otherwise they wouldnt have been penalised in the rankings. Thats what this complaint is about, the fact that their sites were doing just fine, then a manual reviewer comes along and demotes them, which is wrong!

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