Is Google unfairly promoting its own content above everyone else’s? According to those who run rival services, the answer is definitely yes, and now the company is under investigation by the European Union over allegations of favoritism. The problem is apparently the placement of Google services above other search results, and for those affected – for example, TripAdvisor.com Chief Executive Stephen Kaufer – it’s a serious problem; he claims that Google-directed traffic to his site has dropped 10% since Google made the change to the way search results are displayed. WebMD SVP of corporate communications, Adam Goldberg, is also amongst those complaining: “It’s contrary to the notion of a natural search.” It’s not only American companies who are affected; in November, a complaint from a European shopping site managed to get the EU anti-trust authority to look into the matter (Google denies any wrongdoing, but felt the need to point out that the complaint came from a site connected with competitor Microsoft).
For its part, Google is downplaying the issue, and perhaps playing a little dumb in the process. An official statement on the matter explained,
“We built Google for users, not websites, and our goal is to give users answers. Sometimes the most useful answer isn’t ’10 blue links,’ but a map for an address query, or a series of images for a query like ‘pictures of Egyptian pyramids.’ We often provide these results in the form of ‘quick answers’ at the top of the page, because our users want a quick answer.”
See? They’re doing it for you. As long as you don’t happen to work at one of the services or companies whose result is now lower on the page as a result.
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