As the biggest Internet presence in the world, and thus the main focus of SEO, there was always the chance that Google’s business practises would come under scrutiny from people who failed to achieve the rankings they believed they should.
European regulators who are investigating the search giant’s methods have approached their smaller rivals to determine if they were stopped in any way from competing in the search engine market.
As part of an EU antitrust investigation, “vertical search” providers were questioned if they considered the addition of extra features to their search engines to compete with Google and, if so, how much money it would cost.
The investigation is probing claims that Google acted against other search engines by stopping some sites from displaying rival advertisements. It is reported that Microsoft are among those who lodged a complaint.
Companies were also asked whether they had noticed a swift “significant change” in their search engine results pages (SERPs) and, if so, had it precipitated a decline in the number of visitors to their site.
They were also asked if expenditure on Google had ever influenced their ranking, and if the search engine had intimated that an increase in advertising with them could result in improved rankings. Regulators also queried if any company wishing to transfer an advertisement campaign away from AdWords found it too expensive or difficult.
On its website, Google maintains that spending money “has ever had an influence on your ranking”. In 2009, advertising made up 97 per cent of Google’s revenue, amassing the company $22.9 billion (£14.3 billion).