I’m sure many of you have been following or at least hearing about the dispute between Google and its competitors brought before the Federal Trade Commission, which sparked an investigation into Google’s tactics and search algorithms to decide whether or not they had been violating antitrust and anticompetition laws. Microsoft whose search engine Bing, is has been gaining market share and is Google search’s biggest competitor, made the argument that Google was adjusting its algorithms to specifically hurt its rivals, rather than to benefit its users.
However on Thursday January 3rd, the federal trade commission ruled that Google’s tactics and algorithms were only intended to improve its search results for the benefit of its users and that “any negative impact on actual or perceived competitors was incidental to that purpose”
So what does this victory mean to us and to SEO in the near future? Well for starters, it means that Google will continue to syndicate all outlets of its business into its search engine, including maps, reviews, travel bookings, and social media, without fear of violating antitrust laws. Since Google currently has about 70 percent of all searches, this means that as a business or website, it will only become even more important to make sure you site is tied to every service Google offers for example Google Places and Google+.
A summary the F.T.C’s decision in the NY Times states, “Consumers will continue to see what has now become familiar on Google — the presence of results that link to Google’s other businesses. When a consumer searches for “airfare to Los Angeles,” for example, the most prominent results are generated by Google’s own travel business, rather than by the likes of Expedia, Priceline or Kayak.”
SEO tactics were already heavily focused on pleasing Google, as a result of their massive market share when it comes to search queries. This decision by the F.T.C will only reinforce that focus. It can be difficult to keep up with keep up with all of Google’s algorithm changes and updates. Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted yesterday that Google makes one or two algorithm changes every day, which is about 500 changes a year. So what can we possibly do to make sure that we are keeping up with Google and ensuring that our SEO tactics are up to date? Vanessa Fox, author of Marketing in the Age of Google, reminds us that “Google’s algorithms are always evolving to better reach their goal of providing the best possible results for searchers. Focus on creating pages that are the best possible results for your audience and you ‘ll always be building to long term success in search.”
By James Maston