September 3rd, 2010 | Published in Google Public Policy
We've always worked hard to ensure that our success is earned the right way -- by building great products, not locking in our users or advertisers. That said, we recognize that as Google grows, we’re going to face more questions about how our business works.
As Search Engine Land first reported, we've recently been approached by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office, which is conducting an antitrust review of Google. We look forward to answering their questions because we’re confident that Google operates in the best interests of our users.
Occasionally, we’re asked about the “fairness” of our search engine -- why do some websites get higher rankings than others? The important thing to remember is that we built Google to provide the most useful, relevant search results and ads for users. In other words, our focus is on users, not websites. Given that not every website can be at the top of the results, or even appear on the first page of our results, it’s unsurprising that some less relevant, lower quality websites will be unhappy with their ranking.
The Texas Attorney General’s office asked for information about a number of companies whose cases have been well publicized. Here is some background on them:
- Foundem -- the British price comparison site that is backed by ICOMP, an organization funded largely by Microsoft. They claim that Google’s algorithms demote their site because they are a direct competitor to our search engine. The reality is that we don’t discriminate against competitors. Indeed, companies like Amazon, Shopping.com and Expedia typically rank very high in our results because of the quality of the service they offer users. Various experts have taken a closer look at the quality of Foundem’s website, and New York Law School professor James Grimmelmann concluded, “I want Google to be able to rank them poorly.”
- SourceTool/TradeComet - SourceTool is a website run by parent company TradeComet, whose private antitrust lawsuit against Google was dismissed by a federal judge earlier this year. The media have noted that TradeComet is represented by longtime Microsoft antitrust attorneys, and independent search experts have called SourceTool a “click arbitrage” site with little original content.
- myTriggers - Another site represented by Microsoft’s antitrust attorneys, myTriggers alleges that they suffered a drop in traffic because Google reduced their ad quality ratings. But recent filings have revealed that the company’s own servers overheated, explaining their reduced traffic.
We work hard to explain our approach to search and how our ranking works, and we also listen carefully to people’s concerns. We’re looking forward to working cooperatively with the Texas Attorney General’s office, and we strongly believe our business practices reflect our commitment to build great products for the benefit of users everywhere.