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History is rife with well documented and debated lawsuits. One of the latest is an antitrust charge filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Google with a number of issues on the docket. The largest of these being accusations that Google rigged search results so that their services showed up higher compared with their competitors. In early January, the FTC delivered the verdict, which left many businesses wondering how, or if, they will be affected.
Much to the chagrin of Microsoft and Yahoo, the FTC voted to not take action against Google when it came to the issue of search result manipulation. This doesn’t mean Google is off the hook though, as FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz, noted that there was some evidence that suggested that Google did in fact use its search engine to push competitors out of the game. Action wasn’t taken on this evidence because the primary purpose of the search algorithms Google uses to rank search results were written to make the user experience better, not to snuff out competition.
With the FTC’s ruling came news that Google had reached a settlement. The search engine giant agreed to eliminate restrictions to the AdWords platform – their online advertising feature – and to stop using competitor content in specialized searches without approval.
What does this mean for my business?
Before the settlement, Google didn’t exactly make it easy for online marketers to manage multiple online advertising campaigns from one central program. Essentially, if you wanted to get the most out of AdWords, you had to use the platform’s tools. This is an extra step many would rather do without. These restrictions will now be removed, meaning you now have the ability to run advertising on multiple channels through one central program. You should see software begin to emerge in the next quarter to half year that makes it easier to manage these efforts.
The use of competitor content in specialized searches comes from Google pulling information, such as review scores, to improve Google Local and Shopping. What this will do is make similar platforms like Yelp more viable places to market your business. For example, if you own a restaurant your customers will be using various websites to review your business. Before the settlement, these showed up on your Google Local page (you and your customers could view them all from one platform). Now, they will have to go to other platforms to find the same content.
These two changes are, for the most part, low impact, and you shouldn’t see much of a change to your overall online presence, or business for that matter. Bigger businesses may see a slight drop or increase in their pagerank, but not enough to register as a massive problem/gain. This means you can continue using Google’s excellent services and not have to worry for the time being. If you would like to learn more about using Google for your business, give us a call.