Does Google Choose Favorites?
Bloomberg News is reporting that ShopCity.com has filed an antitrust complaint against Google claiming Google favors its own sites over those of ShopCity in the search engine’s results. Google is already the subject of antitrust inquiries in the U.S. and in Europe for related behavior.
ShopCity is a website that helps local businesses sell products that owns thousands of geo-domain names. Claiming Google favored its own sites, such as Google Places, ShopCity filed a complaint with the FTC on November 11.
Google, meanwhile, claims that ShopCity is a victim of recent “improvements” to the search engine results. Google has been downgrading sites it claims engage in content farming, duplication and other black hat conduct because, Google says, its customer don’t want to see those sites. The Marketing Pilgrim has an interesting take on the complaint suggesting ShopCity choose a legal fight rather than good old fashioned hard SEO work to improve its rankings.
From the Bloomberg report, it appears the FTC investigation could be heating up as investigators begin to request information from Google competitors and other marketplace sites. Googlers, meanwhile, whisper Microsoft is the moving force behind this as the same law firm seems to represent many of the complainants and plaintiffs (go click on the Marketing Pilgrim post).
While the top placement of Google Places, Google-related marketplaces and travel sites raises some questions, I can report it does not appear Google monkeys with news results. I first read about this on my Google Reader and then gathered more information by entering ”antitrust complaints Google.” At least, Google has that going for it.