• http://www.ihsekat.com/ Takeshi

    Whether you think it’s fair or not, different rules DO apply to market leaders than to their competitors. Companies that are seen as monopolies or who have a dominant market position fall under increased scrutiny, so that they do not abuse that position.

    Look at what happened with Microsoft bundling IE with Windows. Bundling a browser with their OS may have been an acceptable practice under different circumstances, but because they were the dominant market leader, it was seen an anti-competitive move and they were penalized.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Takeshi, I know that. I said that within the article, even:

    “One of the things I’ve learned covering all these investigations is that if Google is deemed to have a dominant role in the search space, it might have to go above and beyond industry standards to ensure it’s being fair to competitors.

    That’s what the screenshots above show. Mayer’s quote, rather than being damning about Google favoring itself, rather demonstrates a long-standing effort of Google going above-and-beyond to be fair.”

    There are some things that a dominant player might be prevented from doing. But the fairness I’m talking about here is an actual demonstrated effort to really understand the market place and what’s happening within it. I didn’t get the impression from this letter that this has been done.

  • http://www.seo-translator.com Ramon Somoza

    Ok, so I am not familiar with the Congress, as I live in Spain. but from what I have seen from this post is that the politicians -as usual- don’t have a clue about what they want to legislate (in this case, search engines), and they simply adapt to lobbyist that are trying to get the law shifted in their favor.

    The evidence you present seems quite convincing to me. I hope that some US national sends a copy to the members of that committee – but it looks as if the decision has been already taken, so I am doubtful it will have any effect. You can’t convince people who don’t want to be convinced.

    Sadly, the guys that will get hurt are the humble citizens – and in the long run it won’t be Yahoo or Bing who will gain from this – your Congress cannot (even if it thinks so) legislate world-wide, so the ultimate winners will be foreign search engines. If for example Baidu becomes the Google of the world in a few years because these guys kill real honest competition, does Congress really believe that Baidu will care the least about what they say?

  • Allen Francis

    I go to Google search because I need to use the Google services, let it be Google maps, finances or news. If I need to use Yahoo finances or Bing location services, I’d have searched for them in their own search engines. Simple as that! I don’t go to Tesco and demand ASDA (Walmart ) products in their shelves.

  • TimmyTime

    No one accuses you of being a fanboy, a commenter on another similar thread hit the nail in the head: your paycheck depends on Google (and on Bing to an extent.) If they don’t show up on your conferences they are done, so you are their advocate and carry their water why acting as if you know and others don’t.

    If you were even 1% impartial you would questioned why for a “NY Hotels” we only see 2 organic listing and some 20 others clearly benefiting in the same space. And you would have done the same story about how organic listing are being thrown out completed with screenshots from previous years. Questions search engines need to explain:

    Are results objective or subjective?
    Which ones are paid which ones are not?
    How are results from each section chosen and based on what criteria?
    What is each section?
    How many organic listing were in 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007?

    For as long as search engines claim to provide unbiased results they should do so or explain what each section is and how it was chosen.

    But enjoy your paycheck and save us from your “outrage,” they know more than you do and they are much less unbiased than you.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Fine assessment, Danny. Whatever one thinks of Google’s practices, having folks who aren’t paying attention, haven’t done their homework, and don’t seem to be thinking critically about arguments on both sides of the debate has to be of concern. I agree that the FTC is in a better position to come up with sensible policies than Congress is, but having this ham-handed bunch involved in any capacity is troubling.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    TimmyTime, I don’t depend on search engines showing up. If they didn’t show up, we’d do perfectly fine with all search marketer panels. Remember, I’ve been running shows for over 10 years. When we first started, I couldn’t always depend on whether they’d show up or not — so you never plan for that to happen.

    Anyone’s who’s familiar with my work knows that I’ve taken them to task plenty of things they screw up on, as well. Our latest conference has a session called “Google & Brands” which will look at accusations that Google is all brand-loving. I don’t think Google would be particularly thrilled with that session, but it doesn’t matter — its an issue worth exploring.

    The questions you’re raising don’t get the answers you want. How many organic listings are there since 2007 versus 2010? Which ones? The main listings? The same as before. You know this. But actually, more, because if you want to count all the site links and links within OneBoxes, they would have gone up.

    No, the real concern you have is whether there is less organic real estate showing up above the fold than in the past, and in a way that are prominent, not whether there is just some number of organic results.

    And we have covered that, as well as other things. The Bing disappearing holidays sites story took ages to follow up on. I could have ignored that, but it was a classic example of a search engine doing a WTF dropping of site with a strange reason. The Google dropping search terms was another story that took ages to detail, nor is that one that’s done, either.

  • http://jayuhdinger.com jay uhdinger

    Great post Danny, you nailed it. Weird when people who have no clue make the rules. That’s driving without seeing and it ends more often than not in a disaster…

  • http://blog.cpcstrategy.com Andrew

    Great analysis Danny, but I still don’t think we’re seeing the big picture here. Unfortunately I doubt anyone will be able to conclude any objective analysis of what we’re really trying to find out (what is that exactly, and what would have to be found for there to be proof?).

    It’s clear that the accusations made by Nextag and FairSearch are not sound and that their own companies violate similar practices, so it appears we’re back at square 1. Maybe we’re at -1 because of the convoluted view governments have of search engines.

    Instead of parties playing straw man and disproving each other’s accusations, lets figure out a baseline on what we define as fair and move forward from there. Whatever that is will likely be subjective as well, so we may simply be stuck indefinitely in square one, or -1.

    On a positive note, the fact that we’re having this conversation is a good thing. On the flip side, it seems like no one really knows what is going on, which could lead to some unjustified penalties.

  • webmihir

    Google should randomize the order the links in onebox show up – similar to how they asked EU to randomize the order in which browser selection shows up after installing Windows 7 in Europe. If not, its not fair to do one thing, but ask regulators another thing from others. Just a thought.

  • http://facebook.com/nerism jezebelee

    As a user, I find all of the benefts Google has provided (spelling help, phrase predication, geographical use) are obviously products of breaking down search behavior, which is not seeking a magic 8 ball answer. Random is totally useless and not what we seek when we type a stupid question into the box. I find the author’s points informative. Certainly Google ought to be scrutinzed, and as a giant, held to high standards, but reasonably so. They are the giant because they offer a good product (and yes, they are everywhere) but that won’t always be the case, and there remains a choice.