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Directory section introduced to results pages

Posted on February 26, 2020

 

Google has introduced a new section to the results pages of its search engine – one that it has tested in the past.

In April last year, the search giant experimented with a new section on the results pages that would highlight an alternative directory source for the same query. At the time, it displayed an example from Germany.

Now, the company has launched an updated version of this feature, that will see branded directory buttons appear within the search results of various countries across Europe, including the UK, Spain, Belgium, France and Greece.

This change within the search results pages is part of Google’s continued effort to be in compliance with the antitrust decision of the European Commission about favouring its own content within these results pages. Furthermore, it can be seen as an attempt to pre-empt another, separate antitrust action related to local search results.

Previously, Yelp had criticised Google for this type of screen as a return to the remedy Google proposed in 2013 for rival links. This was rejected by the same Commission.

On the search results pages, these directory buttons appear at the top, above the map displaying local businesses. One question that has been raised with the introduction of this feature is how the displayed directories are chosen. This isn’t like the site’s ads, which are chosen based on bidding and relevancy. There doesn’t appear to be a ‘sponsored’ or ‘ad’ label next to any of the listings found in the directory boxes. Therefore, it is assumed that these results are chosen algorithmically.

It is not yet known whether this approach will be deemed acceptable in the eyes of the European Commission in terms of its antitrust decision. This will depend on the whether these buttons provide meaningful traffic to the publishers and directory sites. In recent times, this has been declining ,with Google introducing features such as Google My Business and other zero-click results that help users get the information they want without having to click away from the results page.

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