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Google said Sept. 3 that Texas Attorney General Greg
Abbott is conducting an antitrust probe of complaints that the company stifles Websites
that compete with its search engine.
Search Engine Land
broke the news and Google Deputy General Counsel Don
Harrison confirmed the investigation in a
blog post. Abbott’s office declined to discuss the case per its policy.
The cases cover those brought by shopping comparison
Websites Foundem and myTriggers, and search directory SourceTools, all three of
whom have ties to Microsoft.
Rankings, or where Websites are placed in Google’s search
results pages, can make or break companies that live online because Google
commands roughly 65 percent of the search market.
The companies in the cases Abbott is looking at are
looking to leverage the position that Google’s power as the world’s leading
service provider put it in a position to harm smaller businesses.
Foundem, whose case came to the fore thanks to an
investigation by the European Commission and the company’s support from
Microsoft, said in February Google unfairly
lowers its rankings to boost its own Google Product search service.
MyTriggers and SourceTools have said Google denigrates
their ad placement on its search engine, causing the companies to lose money. Both
companies hired Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, which has done antitrust work for Microsoft.
Harrison reiterated the company line that some Websites
have higher rankings than others because Google’s algorithms are geared to find
the most relevant results for users based on a number of signals.
“Given that not every Website can be at the top of
the results, or even appear on the first page of our results, it’s unsurprising
that some less relevant, lower quality websites will be unhappy with their
ranking,” Harrison said.
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