With FTC announcing the probe on Google’s search practices , I was pleasantly surprised. After the panda update Google had irked so many publishers and rendered many out of business. Though Google might claim whatever the benefits, the panda update was more targeted on websites causing loss of Google Revenue. Be it sites which garnered higher ranking high paid keyword sections or the sites advertising with Microsoft/Yahoo.
Many sites which were either directly competing with Google , using Google products for Ad revenues were the ones who faces the brunt of Google Panda fury. After the update still we get quite a lot of junk in first page results of many keywords and there are hits and certainly several misses.
Behind the scenes Google undertook another step, many adsense publishers were banned and several websites received notices from Adsense that their sites are banned from Adsense due to various reasons and many due to “Abuse of Google Products”. Well abuse of Google products like Youtube, Search etc. Google collected these data through their new search algorithms and started optimizing Adsense. Several publishers were confused as to the Google Product abuse notice, though they haven’t circumvented Google’s policies, their sites were removed from adsense program. Many involved sites embedding primarily youtube video, for Google if someone watches a video in Youtube, there are several benefits like ad revenue and more time in its sites.
Sites which were mostly relying embedding youtube videos were taking a portion of Google’s revenue, by better titles and descriptions. Google did fix these issues with Panda update.
On the Anti competitive front, Google’s dominant position in turn has helped most of its services, whatever Google might its services get the top position in any searches. Though Google might claim that it is helping customers, there is a financial benefit for Google for using their service. For any search from movie timings, or even just cinemas, Google Service appears on top of the theater’s own website.
And one of the key part of Antitrust cases of Past are bundling of products, and using one’s dominant position to kill competitors. Google is doing exactly that with its dominance in search, all of its new services immediately hit top of search results on release and most users will simply click the top link.
With Google Chrome, Android and Chrome OS, Google is positioned to take control of internet traffic and in few years Google might be the internet, by killing of competition Google can easily charge higher for ads and pay less to users. Already there are very few good advertising options other than Google and one reason being the power of Google.
Google is already on the defensive in terms of antitrust investigations, there are clear examples of Google leveraging its position in Search for control in other areas and it will be a tough battle for Google to prove otherwise. At the minimum US will try to put some restrictions on using Search to promote services and data collection for ads.
Lets see how this probe turns out.