Google changes search labels following EU investigation

Following an investigation by the European Commission into whether Google unfairly promoted its own services, the search giant has agreed to make some changes to the way results are displayed.

Google will more clearly label search results that link to YouTube, Google Maps and its other sites. The Commission has proposed that these changes run for a month whilst it collects public feedback. The EC will then decide whether to make them legally binding for five years, in which case an independent monitor would be appointed to oversee proper implementation.

The agreement requires Google to clearly separate promoted links from general search results. The company will also need to show links to three rival specialized search providers in a location that’s clearly visible to users.

In addition Google will need to offer websites the ability to opt out of specialized search results -- such as news and shopping -- whilst not affecting their ranking in a general search. This includes the ability to allow newspaper websites to control, on a page-by-page basis, the parts of their content that shows up in Google News searches.

Google will no longer be able to include in its agreements with publishers any obligation that they source online search adverts exclusively from Google. Nor will it be able to restrict advertisers from running a campaign across rival platforms.

Whilst these changes will only apply to Europe, regulators in other countries will no doubt closely monitor the effects and deciding whether to impose similar restrictions of their own.

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