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|EU investigating Google for demoting rival sites in SERPS|
|BRUSSELS – The European Union's antitrust chief said Wednesday he is looking "very carefully" at allegations that Google Inc. unfairly demotes rivals' sites in search results. |
Joaquin Almunia said in a speech that the EU investigation is still at an early stage but that officials were aware of the "importance of search to a competitive online marketplace."
He appeared to accept Google's arguments that it is hard to behave as a monopoly on the web, saying the fluid nature of the Internet may make it more difficult for powerful companies to elbow out other companies in new markets.
British price comparison site Foundem and French legal search engine ejustice.fr complained to the EU that they were ranked low in Google searches, claiming that this may be because they offer rival services to Google.
Google says its search results are entirely controlled by algorithms that demote sites with little useful content for users.
Low rankings matter because a higher ranking in a Google search drives higher volumes of traffic to websites.
Who wants to join a class action lawsuit from thousands of webmasters against Google? :P
It's really an interesting argument, but I really don't have time to expand on it right now... Maybe I'll come back to this one later, but I'm not really sure how you can say people creating concise, organized product listings aren't generally more relevant to a specific search than organic results can probably be determined algorithmically, and I'm not sure how you can say it's abuse of their position as a search engine to allow people and businesses to do so, since as a search engine their implicit purpose is to help people find what they are looking for, and I really think trying to dictate the ordering of the information they present based on 'competitiveness' is a very slippery slope, because if you argue Amazon should be first 'for competition sake', then eBay could argue the same and where does it end?
People are using a service provided by Google to create an organized, categorized, specific listing for products and Google is showing that listing to people who are looking for the product, which sounds like, as a search engine, they are putting people and products together in an organized manner and seems to be right in line with what a search engine should do... They aren't selling the products I looked at; other sites and businesses are doing that...
It looks like they're ordering the results based on 'known to be relevant' and if that's anti-trust or something a search engine should not do, then I'm really confused at what a search engine should do, because it seems like as a search engine with a stated purpose of organizing the world's information that's what they're doing when they put a 'known to be relevant' set of results first.
Just because they're big and tough to compete with does not make them inherently wrong in what they're doing and just because sites and businesses are used to freebies they are no longer getting doesn't mean Google is doing something wrong. It simply means things have changed.
"but I'm not really sure how you can say people creating concise, organized product listings aren't generally more relevant to a specific search than organic results can probably be determined algorithmically,"
I'm not sure about that, but the problem is that the listings are not on google.com's search results, they are on another Google real estate which Google will be benefiting from, I believe through Google checkout. Users will then use no other property than Google Base (merchant center) instead of ebay or any other price comparison sites. That's anti-competitive. That's why there are anti-competition laws. Google appears to be using its power to favor their own properties. If Google wants to display the concise, organized product listings found on Google Base, they should display them on the main search engine's results on Google.com, not on another of their properties.
I'm not very good with analogies but I hope you get what I'm trying to say. It's like Bush using his presidential power to negotiate better oil contracts for his private businesses.
If you sell certain products, Google would be forcing you to use their services or get no organic traffic.
[edited by: cien at 10:26 pm (utc) on Jul 7, 2010]
|Yes, but the problem is that the listings are not on google.com's search results, they are on another Google real estate which Google will be benefiting from, I believe through Google checkout. |
As far as Google Checkout goes I think they could benefit, but when I follow the link on the conv*ction ov*n products Amazon is number one... Go figure... Maybe there's a reason they're not complaining?
To do it correctly you say they should put the results on Google.Com, which could be easily done with AJAX and a 'click to expand' link, which would really create rants from lower results, so it would, IMO, do more harm to competition than having a listing at a different location in the results.
Somehow, I think Amazon being number one for at least one of the Products Searches basically decimates any complaints or anti-trust arguments... They're obviously not forcing people to stay at Google to buy anything in any way with Product results like Amazon.
NOTE: I didn't follow all the product links, but the 3rd one down on the result set I got for products certainly had Amazon at #1...
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 10:07 pm (utc) on Jul 7, 2010]
I get for #4 Amazon after Google Base shopping results. The first one is wikipedia and second wisegeek. Could be personalized search? Don't know...
I got them there too, but if you click on the 3rd product link down for 'Google Products' (G Base Listings) I get Amazon at number one there... So they are number 4 on the organic results page and number 1 on the Google Products page. Do you see why I don't think they have any room to complain? They got a double listing out of the deal... They didn't lose anything, they gained!
Using analogies such as yellow pages or consumer products won't work because the process of making law takes time and the rise of Google (and SE's in general) is such a new phenomenon there is nothing much to base it on. Add to that the fact -- and it is fact -- that most legislators & judges are technologically challenged, so they simply aren't able to grasp the fundamental principles of the situation, and there is no precedence they can point to which will help them see more clearly. Mostly it's the younger members of their staffs that have to explain it to them, and they're not using search the way we do.
Is search so central to commerce that it needs to have some sort of regulations in place? Is a company that controls 75% of those searches getting close to a monopoly? Can that company do whatever they d@mn well please because it's "their business"?
These are questions that will eventually have to be addressed, but as I said, I do not expect any resolutions until the current generation of "leaders" is replaced by those who grew up using search and thus have a better understanding of its considerable powers. We may be years away from that day, and by then, Google may be AltaVista, or they may be the Federal Reserve. If their power only increases, then I look for more calls for legislation, however if they end up like AV or Excite, then the market will have taken care of itself, which is in all likelihood the best outcome in these sort of cases. We can only hope for the latter -- the idea of clueless legislation is not comforting.
Take a look at the products listing pages and see if you can find the major retailers (online and offline) there easier than you can in the organic results... What on earth are people complaining about? Go look at the stinking products listings pages... Major retailers online and offline are right bleeping there and much easier to find than on the organic results pages!
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 10:18 pm (utc) on Jul 7, 2010]
|Is search so central to commerce that it needs to have some sort of regulations in place? |
I would rather NOT see that day. Government "regulation" can be the home of many a sweetheart deal that then become nearly impervious to any corrective action.
But the specter of regulation is certainly hovering. Another reason that I hope to see some REAL competition in the search space.
"From November 2007 to December 2009, according to the data, Google's Product Search service â€” formerly Froogle â€” leapt from 1.3 million users to more than 20 million."
An interesting article: [theregister.co.uk...]
"Separately, the Raffs have called for a complete overhaul of Universal Search. "Google should not discriminate - at all - not even in favor of Google's own services," she continues, accusing Google of using completely different algorithms to rank results for its own services. The complaint also argues that when Google inserts its own services, it should clearly label them - just as it labels advertising on its search engine."
Google has a lot to worry about if found in violation.
|Google says its search results are entirely controlled by algorithms |
La-di-da. Yes, and they can make it do whatever is best for their corporate model. It's not some impersonal program designed by a master computer that nobly stands aside from the fray. It's humans entering those parameters, and they're in it for the money.
In the beginning, G was cool. Do no evil, etc. Now it's a monster that wants to control every money-making aspect of the internet, using other's content to do it. They need to be taken down a peg or two.
I don't say that because my main website isn't doing well in their serps - Google loves us - we're always at the top of the natural serps - but they keep shoving us down under more and more of their own results. We also do very well in the other SE's, so no problem if G loses traffic. I'd love to see it.
|Google has a lot to worry about if found in violation. |
The word "violation" is pretty strong in this context - violation of what? The opinion expressed by the Raff's?
There is no law or regulation in place to "violate" right now, and this current "non-news" is about an investigation that began five months ago and has no progress to report. In other words, this particular moment is essentially about a publicity struggle.
I'd feel a lot better if Pricegrabber, Mapquest and the like were making the complaint.
|Can the large soap manufacturers sue the large nationwide drugstore chain for doing this or is the drugstore chain allowed to decide what soap it puts on what shelf? |
Retailers do take money from manufacturers to display their products more prominently.
@cien, what concerns you? Un the mains SERPS I see ads, and a block of shopping results.
On the shopping results page there are tiny icons marking the retailers that take Google Checkout.
IS there any unfair barrier to getting into the shopping results? They seem to have a wide range of retailers.
|Google says its search results are entirely controlled by algorithms |
Even Mr.Cutts, current head of Google's spam team, has stated human review exists many times.
|"Google says its search results are entirely controlled by algorithms that demote sites with little useful content for users." |
I think that has been proven not to be true as Google has publicly stated it has manipulated search results by hand as in the Scientology cases.
And lets not forget Google aiding the communist Chinese government by censoring the internet for their freedom depriving overlords.
|Google.cn search results were filtered so as not to bring up any results concerning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, sites supporting the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan, the Falun Gong movement, and other information perceived to be harmful to the People's Republic of China (PRC). |
|Which part of the algorithm awards Google PR10? |
|Are you really asking which part of the algo awards PageRank? |
No. My comment asks: 'which part of the algorithm awards the highest possible PR to the makers of PR'? Do you think Google has PR10 because of the quality links pointing to Google -OR- because Google manually fixed it that way?
Given that Google just banned their own Adwords Help pages for cloaking, I think it's clear that their PR and other routines run without "google-bias".
I think the real issue, even for myself... is that GooG has traditionally presented itself as the organizer of the information, guiding people to exactly what they were looking for in the shortest amount of time.
In order to do that, GooG has gotten ALL OF US to WILLINGLY giving them our content, allowing (begging) them to index that content, and to use it at their own discretion.
In the early days when it was really New-Google, they would take a query and present 10-100 results, sending people back to those wonderful websites that so willingly allowed GooG to come in and index.
<there is a huge transition that took place in this area>
Nowadays, visitors to GooG barely even need to come to OUR websites anymore. Goog is quickly transforming from a VERY GOOD do-no-evil search engine, into much more of a Mahalo of its own, doing nothing but mashing up OUR CONTENT into their own send-no-traffic CMS.
|brotherhood of LAN|
This is worth a read about G entering new markets and using its huge user base to leverage new products via its search results... perhaps to the detriment of not just rival products, but to those of us competing within the SERP's.
Interesting. The heat is getting close. I have no doubt Google will be split at some point. It's right there in your face.
|Nowadays, visitors to GooG barely even need to come to OUR websites anymore. |
That is what noarchive meta tags are for - and do not for get a nopreview for Bing. (I think Bing are evil here: they should treat noarchive as implying nopreview).
its like this, if a supermarket sells their own products then nobody cares. but if they were the only shop in the world, everyone would care. because everyone would have to eat tesco baked beans.
google is pretty much the only shop in the world when it comes to search engines. anyone who says otherwise should try blocking google's traffic and advert leads and see how much their money plummets.
what makes it worse is that google's baked beans aren't even their own recipe. they just nick all the beans from other shops, mix them up, and stick them in their own tin.
|The Inside Google analysis found that the most striking example of the power of the Universal Search strategy is MapQuest, a unit of AOL whose market share has dwindled to 32%, down from 57.24% in July 2007. The Hitwise data shows that the stark decline in visits to MapQuest was accompanied by a closely matching rise in visits to Google Maps, as Google put its own service atop all others for generic address searches. |
“MapQuest, a unit of AOL, appears likely to soon be reduced from a dominant player in web commerce to an also-ran, due in large part to the steps taken by Google to favor its own locator service,” the report said. “Google is now the now the dominant provider of local search information with more than 51% of the market.”
|This is worth a read about G entering new markets and using its huge user base to leverage new products via its search results... perhaps to the detriment of not just rival products, but to those of us competing within the SERP's. |
Does not surprise me. Google will be jumping into other businesses in which there are a lot of profit to be made. How do they get this information? From the millions of sites that have Analytics and conversion tracking tools installed.
|Google will be jumping into other businesses in which there are a lot of profit to be made. |
I would certainly expect travel/reservations to be under their consideration, if not with a wholly owned Google service, then by partnering with an existing company so G becomes a kind of "super affiliate". I'd go further in saying that the "super affiliate" model could even be their initial foray into LOTS of areas of commerce, so they would not have to literally control any of the primary firms, they just have to partner with those that are the most competent & successful. If that happens, then look for something like a "Recommended" section on every results page (along with the existing paying ads).
I have no immediate evidence of this, other than thinking about the logical forward trajectory based on what they've been doing over the past couple years.
The one caveat to this scenario is in regards to "conflict of interest" -- they'll be on a slippery slope if they overreach, so that may make them think twice before going too far. We can only hope...
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