Guess what the search engine guru is upto? Making lives easier? No, guess again. Google has been favoring its own search results against competitors. According to a research sponsored by complaint in the EU antitrust against the company; it also harms consumers!
Two U.S academics have published a report slamming Google’s malpractice of blending links to its own services with general search results. The study suggests that 45 percent of the consumers prefer clicking of links which Google organizes as top few; these results are generated by Google who has been favoring its own results.
“This suggests that by leveraging dominance in search to promote its internal content, Google is reducing social welfare—leaving consumers with lower quality results and worse matches,” the researchers found. The study “provides empirical evidence” that Google favoring its own products in some cases harms Google’s users.
The study was funded by Yelp, a wesite that allows users to review local businesses and one of the complainants fuelling the European Commission’s antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices. Yelp’s data science team also contributed to the research. The researchers based their findings on click-surveys of 2,690 users who took part in comparative tests of search result presentation. They showed two versions of search results for local business searches, which according to the study represent roughly one-third of desktop search volume and over one-half of mobile searches.
Local search, Google is currently displays a list of seven things that are generated by Google’s specialized search results, such as Google Local and traveling in connection with a plan, the researchers said; Google calls such mixing results of its specialized engines search in general search results “universal search.” In alternative versions of researchers, a browser plug was – used in a map and a list of search results based on proprietary algorithm biological Google, including links to review third party sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor provide. The test was designed to determine which version is the most important information is given to the content in question. It found that 32 percent of users will present local results from Google, while 47 percent clicked alternative search results. Nearly 50 percent increase in click-through rate is a big difference in modern Internet industry, the researchers said.
“Google appears to be strategically deploying universal search in a way that degrades the product so as to slow and exclude challengers to its dominant search paradigm,” the researchers said.
It’s not all bad, though: There are some instances, such as displaying time or presenting a calculator, where Google favoring its own services does not harm consumers, they found, adding that presenting a calculator on top of a search result page is preferred by users.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has always denied that it violates European antitrust rules.
The Commission opened its antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices in 2010, triggered by complaints from competitors. Google was formally charged with abusing its dominant market position as a search provider in April. The Commission said Google violates European antitrust rules by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product over competing services, a practice that hurts consumers and stifles competition.
A redacted version of the charges was sent to Google’s foes earlier this month; they were given four weeks to respond. Meanwhile, Google has still to respond to the Commission’s charges.