The United States FTC is looking into the possibility of pursuing an anti-trust case against search engine giant Google. Sources close to the FTC say that four FTC commissioners “have become convinced after more than a year of investigation that Google illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals.” A decision to file a law suit against Google could have major implications for the future of Search Engine Optimization SEO and the search industry in general.
In 1998 a similar lawsuit was filed against Microsoft alleging that they abused their monopoly position. If Microsoft had lost they may have been forced to split into two parts. They ended up settling for an extremely large sum of money and, although they did not get convicted, they still lost. Many believe the case forced Bill Gates to resign as CEO and the company has never been the same since.
According to sources close to the FTC, it appears likely that they will pursue a case against Google. They won’t have to work very hard either, to come up with a good reason. They’ve been inundated with complaints about how Google is conducting itself. A lot of complaints have to do with Google favoring their own properties in vertical search results, but surprisingly that may not be what the FTC chooses to go after. One source said the FTC commissioners have given weight to… “complaints that Google refuses to share data that would allow advertisers and developers to create software to compare the value they get on Google to advertising spending on Microsoft’s Bing or Yahoo. In a related issue, the FTC is looking at Google’s handling of valuable patents, which are determined to be essential to smartphones. The agency is trying to determine if they are licensed fairly and whether patent infringement lawsuits are used to hamper innovation.”
If the FTC does decide to go after Google for anti-trust violations you can bet on one outcome with absolute confidence: Google will never be the same. And that will almost certainly mean a massive shake up in the world of SEO and digital marketing in general.
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