Brett_Tabke - 3:41 pm on Apr 15, 2013 (gmt 0)
Google has for the first time agreed to legally binding changes to its search results after an antitrust investigation by European regulators into whether it abuses its dominance of online search.
After a two-year inquiry, the European Commission has accepted Google’s proposed settlement, according to two people briefed on the agreement who spoke anonymously because the proposal was not yet public.
Google will not have to change the algorithm that produces its search results, the people said. Under the proposal, Google agrees to clearly label search results from its own properties, like Google Plus Local or Google News, and in some cases to show links from rival search engines.
The changes will not be widely seen for at least a month, while rivals and others in the industry can weigh in on the plan, in a process called market testing.
The biggest change has to do with search results related to topics like shopping and flights, a field known as vertical search. Google has been pushing into these areas, prompting complaints from competitors like Yelp and TripAdvisor who worry that Google will favor its own results over theirs.
If the proposal is approved after market testing, the European Commission will have succeeded in demanding far more stringent concessions from Google than did United States regulators, who in January closed a two-year antitrust investigation after finding that Google had not violated antitrust statutes. Google agreed to make some minor changes related to search advertising, but avoided a formal consent decree or litigation.