Google controls 85 percent of the U.S. search market, which means its influence over online business is unmatched. So, it’s understandably horrifying as an online business owner to realize that the search engine you rely on to keep your business afloat may be guilty of slowly making changes to ensure your prospective customers aren’t directed to your website. Unless of course, you pay the increasing costs of paid marketing on the search engine.
In 2004, Google co-founder Larry Page issued a statement in which he described Google’s intent and approach as wanting to get users “out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible.” Last year head of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, David Cicilline, asked Google if this statement still rings true. Why? Because Cicilline is involved with a number of U.S. regulators currently building an antitrust case against Google regarding its biased search activities. This question was met with resounding silence as it was blatantly ignored by the search giant.
The antitrust case is set to be a biggie and will go down in history as one of the biggest legal battles between the American government and a corporation. The question of whether Google is in the wrong remains a tricky one. The alleged crimes are changes made to the search engine that has been gradually introduced over the years and only noticed by users after-the-fact.
An example: In 2015, Google decided to test the fourth ad in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and by the following year it was a regular feature. Nowadays, any search performed on Google delivers organic results preceded by advertising. There’s also the box of information found at the top of the SERPs offering the searcher quick and consumable information about their search query, which can prevent users from clicking through to websites for the answers they need.
There are many examples of the search engine making changes that directly impact the businesses relying on it to remain successful. These business owners and marketers are under an increasing amount of pressure to pay more money to Google to ensure their brand remains at the top of the search results.
If Google stuck to its word and sent users exactly where they needed to be to find relevant, informative content, then why would it suddenly appear to be keeping users on its SERPs? Google’s response on this matter is that the changes are made to serve up relevant information in an organized, useful and accessible manner. OK, but that doesn’t help the fact that click-throughs to organically ranking or free web links has dropped dramatically among smartphone users. What’s more, the increased amount of no-click searches indicates users have found what they need on the SERPs. Many business owners have spoken out about their concerns and even directly addressed Google on social media platforms. Some have been acknowledged — and yet no solutions have been found — and some have simply been ignored.
For the details and dirt on this story, check out this full Bloomberg article here.
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