How Google Takes Undue Advantage Of Its Search Engine Dominance
Google was recently hit with a whopping 2.42 billion fine by the European Commission for taking undue advantage of its dominant search engine. Google was found to have been promoting its shopping comparison service over other shopping comparison services. Google understands that most people do a price comparison check on search engines before ordering any product and the most used search engine is Google. So, when a user searches through Google, results from its own comparison shopping service will be listed right at the top of its search engine result pages.
In Google’s new search engine algorithm, sponsored content from Google’s shopping service appears way ahead of traditional organic links. What makes this issue more worrisome is that Google shopping service has not been subjected to any restrictions. It appears at the top of a result page irrespective of its ranking.
This undue advantage taken by Google is to the extent that the highest-ranking competitor appears on page four of Google search engine result pages on the average. The question is how many people click links beyond the second page when going through search engine results? This implies that Google gives competitors negligible chances of generating leads from its search engine. This is probably the reason the fine is that much.
The fine should be a source of worry to Google as it applies the same tactics in its Hotel Ads offering from which Google makes so much money in Europe. The integration of maps and trips into its hotel ads makes Google the best hotel metasearch service provider. To underscore this, it has been revealed that Google Hotel Ads generates much more traffic than TripAdvisor and others. At this point it is not yet clear if Google’s lead in this sector is as a result of its better product offering or as a result of putting its content way ahead that of its competitors.
In a similar tactics, the results of TripAdvisor are way below that of Google+ review boxes even though TripAdvisor hotel scores are gotten from much more reviews than the results of Google+. The hotel lists from TripAdvisors are usually based on hundreds of reviews unlike Google+ that depends on a few reviews.
This is why both TripAdvisor and Expedia have accused Google of setting the competition rules while being a player at the same time in the hotel search business. Hoteliers now have to invest in search marketing like Hotel Ads to capture potential guests at an early stage. Even Google admits that about 38 percent of travelers begin with search engines and Google has taken over this area. Google has made it almost impossible for others to have strong placement in its search engine results. Unfortunately, Hoteliers have noticed this and they are paying to be placed on Google+
This may be another bad news for Google if European Commission beams tits searchlight on this industry. However, it may not be good news for hotels if EC steps in as they are already enjoying the benefits of Google’s unique metasearch feature. Meanwhile, Google is yet to respond to EC’s ruling on its shopping service.