Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our thoughts on the European Commission review

(Cross-Posted from the European Public Policy Blog)

At Google, we’ve always focused on putting the user first by providing the best possible answers as quickly as possible - and our product innovation and engineering talent have delivered results that users seem to like, in a world where the competition is only one click away. However, given our success and the disruptive nature of our business, it’s entirely understandable that we’ve caused unease among other companies and caught the attention of regulators. Today, the European Commission has announced that they will continue to review complaints about Google's search and search advertising. We respect their process and will continue to work closely with the Commission to answer their questions.

So that everyone understands how we approach search and ads ranking, we thought it would be helpful to state clearly the principles that guide our business:
  • Answering users' queries accurately and quickly is our number one goal. Sometimes the best, most relevant answer to a query is our traditional “ten blue links”, and sometimes it is a news article, sports score, stock quote, video, or a map. Today, when you type in “weather in London” or “15 grams in ounces” you get the answers directly (often before you even hit Enter). In the future, we will need to answer much more complex questions just as fast and as clearly. We believe ads are information too, which is why we work so hard to ensure that the advertisements you see are directly relevant to what you are looking for;
  • We built Google for users, not websites. It may seem obvious, but people sometimes forget this -- not every website can come out on top, or even appear on the first page of our results, so there will almost always be website owners who are unhappy about their rankings. The most important thing is that we satisfy our users.
  • We are always clear when we have been paid for promoting a product or service. Before we launched Google, many search engines took money for inclusion in their results without making that clear to users. We have never done that and we always distinguished advertising content from our organic search results. As we experiment with new ad formats and types of content, we promise to continue to be transparent about payments.
  • We aim to be as transparent as possible. We provide more information about how our ranking works than any other major search engine, through our webmaster central site, blog, diagnostic tools, support forum, and YouTube channel. We give our advertisers information about the ad auction, tips on how to improve their ad quality scores, and the ability to simulate their bids to give them more transparency. And we’re committed to increasing that transparency going forward. At the same time, we don’t want to help people game our system. We do everything we can to ensure that the integrity of our results isn’t compromised.
Our final principle: the only constant is change. We’ve been working on this stuff for well over a decade, and in that time our search technology has improved by leaps and bounds. Our results are continuing to evolve from a list of websites to something far more dynamic. Today there’s real-time content, automatically translated content, local content (especially important for mobile devices), images, videos, books, and a whole lot more. Users can search by voice -- and in a variety of languages. And we’ve developed new ad formats such as product listing ads and new pricing models such as cost-per-action. We cannot predict where search and online advertising will be headed, but we know for sure that they won’t stay the same. By staying focused on innovation we can continue to make search even better -- for the benefit of users everywhere.


Techni said...

I believe both:

1) Google did not knowingly downrank other search engines. It happened due to us preferring Google

2) Google has every right to downrank other search engines both because its GOOGLE'S SITE and because if other search engines really need Google/another search engine for their promotion, then they've already failed.

pTAM said...

+1 to point 2 @Techni

jheaduk said...

Personally I'd prefer it if you forgot all the bells and whistles and just made the algorithm better. The simplicity of the list was beautiful. The instant, preview blahblahblah gizmos just get in the way.

Mikie said...

I'm Irish (within the EU) so the results of these commissions impact me, in the past the commission has been very good at stopping anti competitive behaviour ( take IE being distributed with windows) however sometimes enough is enough.

When I search for something I don't want to be presented with a list of search engine listings as the results, after all if they force the point we would end up with result pages only leading to each other. In my opinion other search engines should be excluded from all results bar those with the term search engine.

After all it's Googles ability to weed out bad results that made it the leader in the industry it would be ridiculus and wrong to force it any other way.

JNG said...

I understand what Google is doing, but I also understand it is easy to run any kind of diagnostic/test to show that your "users" prefer your search result format, so cloaking it as providing a better user value is quite illusory.

Colin Bruce said...

How about levelling the playing field a wee bit: any internal Google product page that has a noindex tag should not be shown in Google's own main search results.


Kurt said...

I can't see why the Commission should care about the views of an American company, why players as Google or Microsoft are relevant who only reside in Europe to benefit from Irish tax dumping.

Skyler Loth said...

Like Techni said, other search engines are down ranked because people who are searching on google PREFER Google.
I don't think Google should have to be sued for how they portray competing products even if they do purposely downrank them (which I highly doubt they do) You don't see any references to Android on Microsoft's windows phone website.
Google isn't successful because its anti-competitive and uses dirty tactics. Google is successful because its products are better than the competition.

john said...

Your algorithm is getting greedy. Or is it the "algorithm"?

"Answering users' queries accurately and quickly is our number one goal."

Ha, Anyone whom has used adwords and delt with a low quality score (even though your website accommodates all of adwords recommendations). Knows better than that.

Not to mention that Google gives your keyword a fake quality score that instantly goes down, the moment you give your payment information.

Your algorithm is getting greedy. Or is it the "algorithm"?

pg said...

I am sure EU has a valid case. I noticed several times ShaadiKaroge.com was listed on 4th place on page 1 and suddenly next day it was on page 3 or 4 for the keyword "Shaadi" if you search from USA while Shaadi.com occupies first 3 places. Shaadi.com is funded by Sequoia Capital who also funded Google.com, I am sure Google manipulates results and I am also planning to file complaint with DOJ as I may have screen shots.

naumeer1 said...

personally i would prefer google is the best amongst all google is for people what i like the most about google is google lets every 1 use their campaigns and tools like adsense, translator, google base and more are coming if any other search engine would be smart like google we would have used those but google = best in every aspect accurate, simple and effective great work guys keep up the good work

Van Damme Dries said...

Dear commission,
Don't like how Google works? - Stop using it and go waste tax money on some other dang investigation.

Seriously, i mean - what is even the ppint of investigating this. Even if they downgrade others, theoretically speaking the eu commission wouldn't be able to do a thing about it since bing and yahoo might be doing it themselves?

Don't like googles way of work? Fine, don't use it, but don't go wasting my tax money on this nonsense investigation.