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Google vs EU: Success or abuse?

Google makes money. A lot of money. Not something that is welcomed by everyone.

Google are once again doing battle with the EU over how it displays its results but who is right? Here's my take on it.

Here's a summary from the BBC (BBC article: Google fights EU price comparison case) .

Prime location

Google Search is an online directory. It allows users to search its records for information. Google tries to display relevant information to the user as quickly as possible.

So much like as in the high street, the biggest shops pay to take the best locations, so businesses want to be displayed as near to the top of the search results as possible to attract customers before their competitors. In its infancy Google realised this is where they could make their money, by encouraging businesses to pay for adverts. Enter Google AdWords and a money making machine. 

Before the internet 

Who remembers the Yellow Pages? In the days before the internet your business had to be listed in this directory if it wanted to be found. You could have a free listing. If you wanted to stand out even more you paid for an advert. If you wanted a national presence you had to pay to be in multiple books too.

There were competitor directories, Thomson Local for example. It did OK but wasn't anywhere near as popular as the giant that was Yellow Pages. Some people preferred these competitors though as they gave them what they wanted, how they wanted it, but because not every business was included they couldn't continue profitably and struggled.

Focus your efforts

There are other internet search engines that you could use. Many have come and gone. Some are still around possibly for vanity projects for some IT companies. Maybe one day they will be the next Google?

Two of the bigger original search engines Yahoo and AOL diversified their services and, crucially, their resources early while Google focussed all of its efforts on Search. Did Google get lucky? Maybe it didn't. What started out as an IT project for free web page listings soon attracted more and more users giving it more and more content. Yahoo and AOL wanted businesses to pay for listings. In this brave new world free seemed like a good option. Google was light on its feet; it could change direction; release new features quickly; not a huge amount of decision making required; it's competitors needed board meetings to adapt. 

You can always turn over

If you're watching TV and you don't like the programme what do you do? Turn over. So if you don't like Google, maybe try someone else. "But they're the biggest" I hear you cry! Then you have to play by their rules and get on with it. The EU are trying to ensure Google aren't taking advantage of their popularity and that's fine but they (Google) have changed what they display and where constantly over the years in an attempt to display the results that you want based on your browsing history, search history, your current location and more.

Ultimately if you and everyone else didn't like Google then the tide will turn in favour of someone else. Until then "to Google" is "to Search".







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Tracy Tappenden, Spearhead Training Group

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