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A research sponsored by a complainant in the EU antitrust trial against the company has revealed that Google is favoring of its own services in search results.

This doesn’t just harm competitors, it also harms consumers.

The research found that users are 45 percent more likely to click on search results organically generated by Google’s own search engine than on results in which Google favors its own services, as it does now.

Yelp, a site that allows users to review local businesses financially supported  the study.

It is one of the complainants fueling the European Commission’s antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices. Yelp’s data science team also contributed to the research.

Yelp presented the study during the Antitrust Enforcement Symposium held over the weekend at the University of Oxford in the U.K., a spokeswoman for the university said, and also sent it to the European Commission on Friday. The Commission declined to comment on the study.

The researchers based their findings on click-surveys of 2,690 users who took part in comparative tests of search result presentation. They showed two versions of search results for local business searches, which according to the study represent roughly one-third of desktop search volume and over one-half of mobile search.

For local search results, Google currently typically shows a list of seven business pins populated by results from Google’s specialized search services such as Google+ Local and travel in relation to a map, the researchers said. Google calls such blending of results from its own specialized search engines into general search results “universal search.”

In the researchers’ alternative version, a browser plug-in was used to display a map and a list of search results based on Google’s own organic algorithm, including links from third-party review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.

The test was meant to determine which version delivered the most relevant information for the content in question. It revealed that 32 percent of users would click on Google’s current local results while 47 percent clicked on the alternative search results. This nearly 50 percent increase in click-through rate is an immense difference in the modern Web industry, the researchers said.

“Google appears to be strategically deploying universal search in a way that degrades the product so as to slow and exclude challengers to its dominant search paradigm,” the researchers said.

It’s not all bad, though: There are some instances, such as displaying time or presenting a calculator, where Google favoring its own services does not harm consumers, they found, adding that presenting a calculator on top of a search result page is preferred by users.

Google has not responded to the study yet but has always denied that it violates European antitrust rules.

Via PC World