Google Is Under Investigation... Again
Now that California has launched an independent investigation into Google, the only state that United States of America that isn't investigating them is Alabama. Not to mention the lawsuits that they have been fighting in Europe for the past few years. But what have they been doing wrong? The answer to that depends on how you look at it.
Have you noticed how the evolution of search engines has changed over the past several years? There seem to be more "sponsored" posts than ever before. Google will tell you that this is to help improve user experience. If you ask people who run websites however, they will tell you that this is simply a "pay-to-play" technique from Google that forces you to pay if you want to show up in search listings.
The debate is raging as to whether or not this should be regulated. As Google currently receives over 86% of all searches done on the internet, they hold immense power in this. Some even consider them to have a monopoly on internet search engines. You can get almost anything on the internet, but getting found on the internet is a difficult challenge for many businesses.
Organic ranking is getting harder by the day as more and more websites are entering the playing field, fighting for a chance to show up on popular searches. Count the fact that Google is allowing websites to pay for top positioning in sponsored posts and it makes it even harder.
In addition to these, Google has added another factor into the mix. Have you noticed that for certain searches, the answer to your question appears right on the search listings page. Of course you still have the option to click through to the website, but who needs that when you already have your answer? This is detrimental to many website owners who rely on web traffic for income. This web traffic creates income for them by allowing them to serve ads in the sidebars and through the text. They get paid based on how many people see and click these ads. If people are getting the answers to their questions before they even get to the website, then this reduces the traffic.
Another big question looms about Google and other tech giants as well. What would the end result of a lawsuit or Supreme Court ruling be? Would it simply penalize Google and pave the way for other tech companies such as Microsoft to grow and fill the void? Would limits be put in place that allow other companies to enter and fill a void that these may create? Google currently generates over 70% of its revenue from advertisements.
By the sounds of things, the FTC has already requested all evidence in regards to acquisitions and mergers related to Google. This could mean that they are looking to divide up parts of the company. This could potentially break up Google's revenue stream that comes from advertising and is diverted to other projects. I am not sure how it would all shake out, but I am sure that it would take a long time to reach a final verdict in the courts. There are sure to be several layers of appeals either way.
Google is not the only company that the FTC has requested merger and acquisition information on either. Facebook and Amazon are also being looked at in regards to how they have expanded and purchased other companies. It will be interesting to see how these investigations and potential lawsuits play out. Let me know what you think in the comments!