It’s a brand-new week, which can only mean another antitrust lawsuit filed against Google. Familiar language is being used yet again, describing Google as “the middleman” – this time between app developers and consumers. This comes six months after the Department of Justice sued Google for maintaining an illegal monopoly over search and advertising and another lawsuit alleging Google enlisted Facebook in a deal to rig ad auctions.
Now, attorneys general from three dozen states and one district are suing the search engine giant for more alleged anti-competitive practices. This latest lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, alleges that Google abused its power in a bid to illegally control app distribution on Android. Specifically, Google has been accused of attempting to “preemptively quash” Samsung’s Galaxy Store and prevent it from competing with Google’s app store, Google Play.
The lawsuit says Google is deliberately making it more difficult for app developers to distribute Android apps anywhere other than Google Play, where its payment system collects commissions of up to 30 percent on transactions. It alleges that Google has attempted to make shady agreements with other Android device manufacturers and mobile networks – including the likes of Samsung and Verizon – to preload Google apps on their devices.
Additionally, the complaint says that when Epic Games Inc. (the makers of Fortnite) began distributing its app outside of Google Play, Google “bought off” developers to discourage them from a similar practice.
And that’s still not all. It is also alleged that Google has used warning messages, suggesting apps from other stores could contain malware, to discourage Android device owners and users from downloading apps through competing app stores.
Expectedly, Google rejected the suit’s accusations as meritless, hitting back by detailing ways the Google Play has helped app makers succeed.
Google senior director of public policy Wilson White wrote in a blog,
“Android and Google Play provide openness and choice that other platforms simply don’t. The complaint is peppered with inflammatory language designed to distract from the fact that our rules on Android and Google Play benefit consumers.”
The “we’re on your side” rhetoric Google pushes when it finds itself in hot water is standard practice, but becomes more questionable with each new antitrust accusation. And even if this lawsuit is dismissed – as a recent complaint against Facebook was – Big Tech is almost certainly not out of the woods. A resolution and potential reckoning for Google may be far in the future, but legislators and regulators are working hard for it.
Linking Is Crucial for SEO, But It’s Possible To Overdo It: Having a good internal linking structure is vital to establish site architecture and spread link equity – it’s an important (and relatively simple) element of SEO. But in the latest Search Central office-hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller suggested that too many internal links can have the opposite effect. Mueller said that an overload of internal links prevents Google from understanding your site structure, the context of individual pages and which pages are the most important. Additionally, the presence of too many links can dilute their value: While one internal link serves as a signal that a page is important, it loses some of this clout when more links are added. The bottom line? You can have too much of a good thing.
Mueller Doesn’t Think SEO Will Ever Become Obsolete: With Google’s rapid advancements in machine learning and language processing (MUM comes to mind), it’s understandable that some site owners are wondering if SEO as we know it could become obsolete. After all, if Google’s algorithms could understand everything about a website – and it looks like that’s the direction we could be heading – what role could SEO possibly need to play? It’s a valid concern, but take some comfort from the fact that John Mueller doesn’t think search engines will ever become advanced enough to make SEO unnecessary. Mueller made his thoughts known when an office-hours viewer asked what his vision was for the future of SEO. While Mueller couldn’t give a direct answer, he made it clear that he doesn’t see the SEO profession dying altogether but rather changing in a similar way content management systems (CMS) have adapted and evolved.
Instagram Announces Big Plans for the Future: Video killed the Instagram star – and it was only a matter of time. With the popularity of platforms like TikTok soaring (the app has just tripled the length of videos), it’s no surprise that Instagram is trying to distance itself from a future based solely on photo sharing. In a video posted on social media, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said that the company is moving away from images and expanding into four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging. According to Mosseri, the future of Instagram will see new monetization features for influencers, a focus on video content, eCommerce features and more convenient ways to communicate via DM. That’s a lot, and it paints a very different picture of the Instagram we knew a couple of years ago. Mosseri also said that over the next few months, we’re likely to see some Instagram testing and experimentation underway, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for new features.
Here’s How Much Flesch Reading Ease Matters for SEO: In a data-driven study for Ahrefs, author Michal Pecánek explored how much readability recommendations and Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) score affect SEO, if at all. If you’re not familiar with FRE, all you need to know is that the longer your words and sentences are on average, the lower your FRE score. The Ahrefs study analyzed 15,000 keywords to determine how much of an impact FRE has on Google rankings. What it found was “virtually zero correlation between rankings and FRE scores.” Of course, this doesn’t mean readability isn’t important – it almost certainly impacts user experience (UX), and users who find your content difficult to read or understand are likely to bounce and indirectly impact your SEO. But what this study does show is that a low FRE score doesn’t mean you need to rework your content. In fact, oversimplifying language and sentence structure for more technical topics could be detrimental. Be sure to check out the full blog for additional insights.
Reciprocal Links Are Still Not Okay – But There Are Ways To Navigate This: In Search Engine Journal’s latest Ask an SEO series, a reader asked if link exchanges are bad practice. SEO expert Tony Wright responded that, yes, it’s bad practice and, yes, you could get a manual penalty. But more likely, obvious links exchanges will simply be ignored by algorithms and thus a waste of time and effort. It’s interesting to note, however, that a 2019 Ahrefs study revealed that almost 43 percent of links pointing to top-ranking sites are reciprocal. Why? Often, these types of links happen naturally – and Google knows this. For these reasons, Wright’s opinion is that a one-off link exchange here and there with a trusted source is perfectly acceptable. The only issue is when you’re exchanging links with sites you have no connection with at all.
Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.
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