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Has Google altered its algorithm to favor its own properties in vertical search results?
Numerous publishers which now find themselves competing with the search engine they rely on for valuable traffic have accused Google of doing just that. Some in the industry have even petitioned antitrust regulators to look into the matter.
In 1998, the United States Department of Justice and 20 states filed a lawsuit against Microsoft alleging that the software giant abused a monopoly position in the market to dominate the market for web browsers.
The stakes were high. If it lost, Microsoft could have been forced to break itself into two parts. And even though it eventually settled under more favorable terms, the case against Microsoft is arguably the defining moment in the company's history.
Is a big part of search's future based on content partnerships?
When Google announced that it was acquiring Zagat, it looked problematic. After all, Zagat was a publisher struggling to stay relevant in the digital age and Google was the world's biggest search engine. The potential conflicts the deal could create were huge.
One of the companies likely to have been most concerned with the acquisition was Yelp. Along with other popular user-generated reviews sites, it has arguably played a key role in Zagat's woes. With Google behind it, would the Mountain View-based company push Zagat content at the expense of a company like Yelp, which it once reportedly looked to buy?
In most parts of the world, Google may be the most dominant search engine, but as search evolves, Google will have to compete with other players for dominance in key vertical search markets.
The stakes, in many cases, are high. The Mountain View-based company's attempted $700m acquisition of ITA Software, for instance, demonstrates just how important vertical search is to Google.
Vertical search is already a big focus in the search market, and Google has its sights set on the skies. And we're not talking about the infamous Google party plane.
Yesterday, Google announced that it is buying flight information software company ITA Software for $700m in cash. ITA Software's technology is widely used by airlines and online travel destinations, and "effortlessly searches – at a billion combinations per query – fares, schedules, and availability." That's why Google was willing to pay big bucks for ITA's technology, which it hopes will enable it to help passengers, airlines and online travel agencies find flights and fares more efficiently.
With Bing, Microsoft has achieved far more in search than many believed it was capable of. But just because Microsoft has managed to beat lowered expectations doesn't mean that Bing is doing for Microsoft what it hoped it would.
Citing a lack of the "broad adoption that we had hoped for", Microsoft announced Friday that it was shuttering Bing Cashback, which was a big part of Bing's shopping vertical search.
Google might as well have been called Simple. Back when Google was a new entrant in the search engine market and larger competitors were cluttering up their homepages with as much content as could be aggregated on a single page, Google took a different approach and offered internet users an alternative: a clean, if not sparse, homepage that focused on one thing -- search.
Relatively-speaking, that homepage hasn't changed much in the past decade. But what has changed: Google's SERPs.
Its new recipe results pull in data from popular recipe websites and give searchers the ability to display and filter recipe results via a recipe-specific interface. The goal, obviously, is to give consumers searching for their next home cooked meal one more reason to use Microsoft's 'decision engine'.
Everyone loves a deal and that's especially true when times are tough. So it's no surprise that bargain hunting online has become an even more popular pastime for consumers. From coupon sites to cashback sites, consumers looking to spend money have plenty of ways to get more bang for the buck.
Helping them get that bang for the buck is something naturally suited to search engines. And Ask.com is joining the fray with a new service called Ask Deals.
This week Google was sued by Lending Tree, a company whose website enables consumers looking for mortgages and other loans to connect with lenders. LendingTree alleges that Google is planning to launch an online loan exchange of its own and that it will use technology provided by one of LendingTree's vendor. The problem: LendingTree alleges the vendor is contractually forbidden from working with LendingTree competitors, which LendingTree clearly believes Google is.
For its part, Google says that it's simply "working on a small ad unit test that will run against a limited number of mortgage-related search queries in the U.S." So while we don't yet have enough in the way of hard facts to evaluate the merits of LendingTree's claims, the lawsuit raises an interesting question: what if Google gets into the lead gen business?