Wait, Can Anyone Explain Why Google Should Promote Other Search Engines?

from the i'm-confused dept

As the EU continues to use its Tim Wu-sian definition of monopoly where “being successful” equals “monopoly,” it is has taken the step that everyone expected and has begun investigating Google for supposedly anti-competitive practices with regards to “competing search engines” such as Foundem. Foundem has been on this kick for a while. It has a crappy search engine that sucks and then it complains that Google doesn’t link highly enough to them. The whole thing almost feels like it was set up purposely to have an excuse to go after Google.

As per usual, the absolute best response to this investigation comes from Danny Sullivan, who satirically notes that when he searches Google, obviously it had better link to other search engines as the top results:

I did a search at Google today for “cars” and was shocked. Rather than list links allowing me to search for “cars” on Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Voila, Naver and Yandex, Google instead favored its own search results. I?m glad the EU will be investigating whether this favoritism violates anti-trust laws.

He goes on from there. It’s worth reading the entire piece, because at the end he dismantles the entire argument of Foundem and the EU. It simply makes no sense. The whole thing is based on a basic fallacy that some companies who failed to actually get the market to come to them somehow think Google owes them traffic. Here’s a tip: if your business model depends on getting traffic from Google, you are making a poor strategic decision.

And this is more true today than ever before. It wasn’t that long ago that the vast majority of our referral traffic came from Google (the majority of our overall traffic comes from direct access/RSS readers). These days, however, while Google is still high up there, there’s a wide mix of alternative sources that bring us traffic: StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and a variety of other sources. Most of these aren’t search engines — but they are massive traffic generators, showing that people find stuff via social means at an increasing rate, and the idea that any business is totally reliant on one company, Google, to survive, simply suggests a poor business strategy. Regulators should never reward poor business strategies, but that appears to be what they’re looking to do over in the EU.

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Comments on “Wait, Can Anyone Explain Why Google Should Promote Other Search Engines?”

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David says:

The problem is that these people have an idea of what a search engine should be so they consider any new change (innovation) to be a violation, they want Google to act as a traffic pump to their sites instead of it’s main purpose which is answering quires.
Thing is that search will eventually evolve beyond the ranking of blue links and become even more personalized, so are they going to force Google to stop innovating and just pump traffic to useless link farms?!

What do you think the EU will do, Mike?

TheStupidOne says:

Here’s the Google way to make this go away instantly …

In the Google account options, include a box to allow you to select which shopping search engine, which image search, video, etc. This way if someone wants to use Bing Image Search when they actually do the search from Google they can.

Of course you have to have a Google account and be logged in for this to work and Google needs to set defaults for people who can’t be bothered to choose and who could blame Google for making the default selection their own search results.

Then Google can say that listened to the concerns and there is a way other search engine’s fans to optimize their experience using Google. Plus Google will get good PR for being as user friendly as it can be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: from the "google is god" Dept..

Er….not the same reason.

Windows doesn’t have to provide an install package for Linux. They just can’t force IE to be “The one and only browser”.

Granted, I thought the whole anti-trust thing was stupid, especially since Firefox and Safari were already gaining ground, but yes, semantics.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I did a search at Google today for “cars” and was shocked. Rather than list links allowing me to search for “cars” on Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Voila, Naver and Yandex, Google instead favored its own search results. I?m glad the EU will be investigating whether this favoritism violates anti-trust laws.”

that would just piss me off

Alain - Edmonton SEO guy (user link) says:

Search engines

From a PR perspective, good for Foundem. From the standpoint of having a useful search engine, so sorry. lol

There’s no question, Google has done search well. I expect they’ll start to see much more of the same treatment Microsoft got, until Microsoft decreased in relevancy.

Google has way more upside potential though, but they’re not infallible. One wouldn’t expect access to other search engines through Google, but Foundem isn’t really a search engine, per se. It looks more like a kind of shopping comparison/affiliate marketing site.

I have often lamented the lack of competition to Google. Bing will, hopefully, begin to eat into Google’s market share, but I am pinning my hopes on something like blekko.com.

It would be nice to see three strong contenders out there in search, but the tough part is to get people to use them. I still don’t see much search traffic outside of Google with most sites I manage.

That always makes me nervous relying on them for pay per click ad traffic as well as organic search traffic. Thus the importance of social media to help diversify your traffic.

darryl says:

Its not that I love Google

Its not like I am a big Google fan, but the EU has fallen on the little extortion trick, pulling large chuck of money from big business.

And just because I dont use or personally like google, I also believe they have every right to compete on the open market in a fair manner.

Google is a content based advertising company, if their marginal costs become higher (EU fines), then the only people who will lose out are all the consumers where google is the primary search tool.

They have to charge more for advertising, so you pay more for everything you buy. You are allready paying for google, so any damage to them, is damage to you..

They should be allowed to trade in an open market without externalities.

Travis Miller (profile) says:

Success vs. monopoly

This is actually a three stage distinction in my book:

1. Market dominance (e.g. Google)

2. Dominant market CONTROL (e.g. Microsoft)

3. ABUSE of that dominant control (i.e. anti-trust issues)

So, in my opinion, Google is not a monopoly (though any size company can still act anti-competitively in an illegal manner). Microsoft is a monopoly (more or less), but that doesn’t matter until they abuse that position.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think this is another attempt at Microsoft to undermine Google. It can’t do it with a winning search engine – bing or something so now it is trying litigation by proxy.
The complaint to the EU is by 2 Microsoft subsiduaries (fouddem and ciao). OK there is an independent in there but I still see it as nothing more than Microsoft gaming the EU competition system having found how powerful the EU can be in regulating the European Trading Area.

Anonymous Coward says:

EU competition law has always very carefully avoided defining anything as a monopoly – what it outlaws is abuse of a dominant position. It’s hard to argue that Google don’t have a dominant position, so the issue is purely whether they are abusing it (undoubtedly, but not by downgrading rubbish directory sites below the places that actually have content).

darryl says:

Google or Microsoft neither are even close to monopolies

A monopoly means you can gain something from only one source, you do not have a choice, there are no alternatives.

You can use alternative search instead of google, you can search for information even without a computer, and without google. Just as you can get software and hardware from multiple sources.

That is not to say that some companies do far better than others, thats to be expected, they get the formula right and they become big, especially if they keep the formula right.

Being the most popular does not mean you have a monopoly (I should know, im very popular :)). It just means you are good at what you do, and you have alot of paying customers who also think so.

Why you would want to punish such success is beyond me, a fine on being good, and successful at what you do.

Probably the EU sees it as a bonus payment for them being so sucessful in the EU !!.

Paying normal taxes like everyone else is not enough for the super sucessful amoung us..

Anonymous Coward says:

Google needs a database cleaning. Then it needs a regular verification schedule on the links in it’s cleaned database. Invalid links need to be pruned. If my database admin person did this shabby of a job, well you know their fate. Google has turned into a numbers game with very little substance. Lots of hits with very few valid links.

The majority of their business offerings are a pain in the A** to administer and there is no human assistance available anywhere. I can’t give them money for that kind of crap service. When someone buys my product they can call me and deal directly with one of my staff. Try doing that on Google. Even their Analytics are buggy. They told us we had 14,000 plus hits on one of our websites and upon checking the actual server logs we had only about 500. I wouldn’t trust them or their code. Sloppy.

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