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SEARCH NEWS: Google offers clearer search results after EU investigation

Google has said it will clearly separate promotional links from other web content after an antitrust investigation by the European Commission (EC) into whether it unfairly promotes its own services.

The Search engine has agreed to clearly label results from its own websites, including YouTube and Google Maps. 

It also agreed to display links to competitors close to where it promotes its own services on the results page.

Google's concession also includes the following offers:

  • All websites will have the option to opt out certain content from Google's search services.
  • Specialised search sites will focus on product search or local search. These will include the option to mark certain categories of information so that they are not indexed by Google.
  • Any written or unwritten obligations that would require publishers to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google will be removed from any future agreements.
  • Google will no longer restrict advertisers from running search advertising campaigns across rival ad platforms.

EC spokesman Antoine Colombani said: "The objective of this process is to try to see if we can achieve a settled outcome in this antitrust investigation.

"If the Commission accepts them, they will become legally binding for the next five years. EU regulators have asked for feedback and have proposed that the concessions be tested for a month."

However, parties including Microsoft and Nokia are calling for harsher action.

The Microsoft-backed lobby group Initiative for a Competitive Marketplace (Icomp) commented: "It is clear that mere labelling is not any kind of solution to the competition concerns that have been identified. Google should implement the same ranking policy to all websites."