Dear Google Rivals: Do These New Proposals Solve Your Antitrust Concerns? Love, The EU

google-eu-featured Three years into its investigation of Google over antitrust issues relating to search, the European Union took another step closer toward a likely resolution, asking Google rivals and other third-parties to review a settlement proposal. Notably, the general public wasn't invited to participate. The news comes via several reports today. The European Union's Competition agency posted nothing on its website, though the move follows on what it promised to do earlier this month. The Wall Street Journal and Reuters say that 125 companies have been asked to comment on the latest proposal, in [...]


Yahoo-Microsoft Search Tensions On Public Display In Court Ruling

Microsoft has essentially had to sue Yahoo to get the company to fully comply with the terms of their 2010 "Search Alliance" agreement. Yahoo under Marissa Mayer had sought to delay rollouts of Bing search results in Taiwan and Hong Kong, awaiting a new Microsoft CEO. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer resigned ahead of schedule under board pressure because of a growing sense that Microsoft's core businesses were increasingly under siege and the company wasn't making sufficient headway. Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is arguably the leading candidate to succeed Ballmer. Regarding the Bing rollou [...]


New Disconnect Tool Enables Private Searches Without Logging Out Of Online Accounts

Disconnect Logo_Oct2013 Online security software provider Disconnect launched their latest search tool, Disconnect Search this week. According to the announcement, Disconnect Search allows users to perform private searches on sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing via their address bar or omnibox, "without having to change their behavior." Disconnect says their new tool routes search queries through the company's servers, making it appear as if the queries are, "coming from Disconnect instead of a specific user's computer." Disconnect's technology also prevents search engines from passing along keywords to the websites [...]


New Google Antitrust Offer A “Significant Improvement” Says EU

Google Europe After Google's competitors loudly complained about the company's antitrust settlement proposal, which displayed three "rival links" to alternative' search results, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said it would take new "concessions" for Google to successfully settle its antitrust case with Europe. Google has now reportedly made those concessions. Almunia characterized Google's updated settlement offer, submitted last month, as a "significant improvement." According to a Reuters report, "Almunia told lawmakers in the European Parliament he believed the new offer made i [...]


SEO Companies Fined Over Fake Reviews

reviews-240px Several SEO companies have agreed to stop publishing fake online reviews, and will also pay penalties ranging from $2,500 to almost $100,000 as part of settlement announced today with the New York attorney general's office. The AG's year-long investigation ultimately caught 19 companies involved in writing and posting fake online reviews, including numerous small businesses. But the investigation began when the AG's office posed as a yogurt shop and contacted SEO companies asking for help in fighting negative reviews. The investigation revealed that SEO companies were using advanced IP spo [...]


Post-PRISM, Google Confirms Quietly Moving To Make All Searches Secure, Except For Ad Clicks

keywords-not-provided-featured In the past month, Google quietly made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity -- except for clicks on ads. Google says this has been done to provide "extra protection" for searchers, and the company may be aiming to block NSA spying activity. Possibly, it's a move to increase ad sales. Or both. Welcome to the confusing world of Google secure search. Two Years Ago: Secure Searching For Logged-In Users In October 2011, Google began encrypting searches for anyone who was logged into Google. The reason given was privacy. Google said it wanted to block anyone who might potentially be ea [...]


MPAA: 82 Percent Of Searches Leading To Pirated Content Come From Google

piracy-cd-music-featured The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) today accused Google and other search engines of playing "a significant role" in directing consumers to pirated movies and TV shows, with a special callout for the amount of Google searches that lead to infringing material. It's the latest volley in a long-running battle between Hollywood and the search engines over the easy online availability of stolen content and whose job it is to clean up the problem. MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd -- the former US Senator -- introduced the results of a new study during a news conference today in Washington [...]


Could You Walk In Google’s Shoes? Making Tough Calls With Search Listings

It's pretty easy to sit back and slam Google for how you think it should make decisions when it comes to search listings. It's much harder to actually make those decisions, when you have a deeper understanding of all the implications involved. To experience this better, here's a chance to put yourself in Google's shoes and make some of the tough decisions. Below is a video from a special session we did at our SMX West search marketing conference earlier this year. Patrick Thomas, Google's search policy specialist and Matt Cutts, the head of Google's web spam fighting team, suggested a v [...]


Google Says European Law Does Not Support Mosley Lawsuit To Censor Search Results

Google Europe Yesterday, Google posted a plea on their Google Europe blog asking European courts to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former Formula One president Max Mosley. The lawsuit requests that Google build a filter to identify and block what Mosley claims is unlawful content. A report on Bloomberg.com claims Mosley's lawyers filed a suit in a French Court, asking Google to create filters that could identify and remove content referencing "Nazi-themed" sex parties in association with Mosley.  A lawsuit has also been filed in Hamburg, Germany. In response to the lawsuit, Google's associate general cou [...]


Search Privacy Low On List Of Privacy Concerns For US Internet Users

search privacy Despite the fact that search history can be so revealing about people's desires and interests, a new survey of US internet users finds that concern over search privacy -- while significant -- still ranks far behind other online privacy issues. The survey by the Pew Research Center covered 1,000 adults in the US, was conducted last month and asked a wide-range of questions about online privacy. You can read it here, and also see our coverage on Marketing Land: Report: Almost 90 Percent Concerned About Online Privacy & Trying To Avoid Advertisers. One part asked people to rank types o [...]


How to Recover When Your Content Is Stolen

dmca-google Last month, I shared a case study of a client I'm currently working with on a duplicate content issue. It turns out that this particular site had significantly lost rankings over the past year because of other sites "lifting" their content, often verbatim, causing the client's site to lose rankings through Panda updates. This is a common problem for content producers. You produce great content only to have other sites disregard copyright and repurpose the content on their own sites -- without attribution. I see this often in the case of associations and non-profits that may be producing val [...]


Privacy Groups Want Judge To Reject Google’s $8.5 Million Settlement Over Search Privacy Lawsuit

google-legal-240px Last month, Google agreed to pay $8.5 million into a settlement fund over a class-action lawsuit by two searchers who accused the company of transmitting their personal information to third parties without their consent or knowledge that the information was being shared. The final court approval of the proposed settlement was scheduled for today, but five US privacy groups have asked the court to reject the preliminary settlement agreement. Electronic Privacy Information Center, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, Patient Privacy and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse wrote a joint l [...]


With Amazing Chutzpah Google Claims It Can’t Be Sued In UK Courts

Google legal Last year Google was embroiled in controversy over its circumvention of the Safari browser's cookie-privacy settings (on the iPhone and beyond). As a result the company paid a $22.5 million fine to settle the case with the US FTC approximately a year ago. The FTC summarizes the facts that lead to the settlement: [F]or several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google’s DoubleClick advertising network, although Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of [...]


Bing Reports They Receive Hundreds Of Thousands Of DMCA Complaints Every Month

google-bing-piracy-featured Because of its share of the search market, Google is most frequently targeted by copyright holders filing DMCA complaints, but the search giant is not the only one managing requests to remove unlawful links from search results. TorrentFreak reports Bing not only receives a great number of takedown notices monthly, but Microsoft submits DMCA complaints to its own search engine, as well as others. "Each month, Bing receives DMCA notices from a variety of copyright owners that seek removal of hundreds of thousands of URLs," said a Microsoft spokesperson. According to TorrentFreak, while Micros [...]


New Research Says Search Engines Have Little To Do With Promoting Pirated Content

google-bing-piracy-featured A new research paper authored by Matt Schruers and published by the Computer & Communications Industry Association argues that search engines have been unfairly targeted in the quest to impede online copyright infringement. According to the paper, the perception is that search engines are the primary culprit in copyright infringement cases, offering visibility to unlawful and pirated content. But, Schruers writes, "the contention that disappearing undesirable entries from search results would substantially prevent piracy is flawed" and "the solutions to online infringement have little t [...]


Revealed: The 17 Other Search Engines The FTC Warned Over Paid Ad Disclosures

ftc-featured In June, the US Federal Trade Commission warned seven "general purpose" search engines -- including Google, Bing and Yahoo -- about the need to ensure they were properly disclosing paid ads. But 17 other "specialty" search engines were also warned. Which ones? The FTC wouldn't say. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, Search Engine Land can now reveal the names. Our story from June -- FTC Updates Search Engine Ad Disclosure Guidelines After “Decline In Compliance” -- explains the warnings that were sent in more detail. At the time, the FTC said that AOL, Ask, Bing, Blek [...]


Suing Your SEO: Can An Agency Be Held Liable For Poor Results?

Legal [caption id="attachment_168378" align="alignright" width="239"] Image via Shutterstock[/caption] It was only a matter of time before a lawsuit was filed against a search engine optimization agency for failing to deliver. Last week, the legal marketing industry was aTwitter (and aFacebook and even aPlus) with news that law firm Seikaly & Stewart had filed a lawsuit against The Rainmaker Institute seeking a return of their $49,000 in SEO fees and punitive damages under civil RICO (read: mobsters and racketeering -- more on that later). To the best of my knowledge, this is the larges [...]


German Publishers Opt-In To Google News — For The Moment

Google legal Following the enactment of a controversial copyright law in Germany, Google said that it would require publishers to formally "opt-in" to Google News or be excluded from results. Accordingly major German publishers have decided to do so -- for now. The new law, which went into effect today and gives publishers almost total control over the use of their content, still allows news aggregators and search engines to show “single words” and modest “text excerpts” but creates legal uncertainty and potential liability for those who misinterpret the rules. What qualifies as a "text excer [...]


Google Continues Censoring Piracy-Related Search Suggestions By Blocking Grooveshark

google-search-censored-featured TorrentFreak reports Google has added another website to the piracy block list for their instant search suggestions. The site is named Grooveshark, which is a popular free music streaming service. Google would not comment specifically about Grooveshark, but told TorrentFreak, "our algorithms prevent terms closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete." Back in January 2011, Google began filtering piracy related terms from their instant search suggestions. Google said then that they will "prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. [...]


Google Agrees To Settle Lawsuit Over Passing Search Queries To Third Parties

google-legal-240px Google has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit that stems from two searchers accusing the company of sharing their search queries with third parties without user content or knowledge. As part of the settlement, Google has agreed to pay $8.5 million into a settlement fund, with that money going to seven groups/organizations on the condition that they agree to use the money for public education and/or research related to protecting online privacy. In October 2010, Paloma Gaos sued Google because the company "transmitted user search queries to third parties without knowledge or consent [...]


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