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SEOblog News You Can Use: More Damning Allegations as Google Accused of Colluding With Facebook

It’s no secret that Google has found itself in some hot water in 2020. Investigations have turned into litigations as the company’s anti-competitive practices have been questioned. 

On the heels of the Department of Justice (DoJ) suing the search engine giant for maintaining an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising and violating antitrust laws, 10 state attorneys general filed yet another lawsuit against Google last Wednesday, accusing Google of… well, more of the same – and they believe they have the documents to prove it.

This latest complaint traces Google’s villain origin story back to 2007 when Google acquired DoubleClick’s ad management software. The plaintiffs allege this purchase enabled Google to weasel its way into the position of middleman in a complex chain between advertisers and online publishers, effectively running an illegal digital-advertising monopoly. 

The complaint further claims Google enlisted rival Facebook in a deal to rig ad auctions, with Facebook curtailing competitive moves to receive special treatment in Google-run ad auctions in return. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who led the suit, accused Google in a statement of “brazenly abusing its monopolistic power” and entering into a “contractual scheme that undermines the heart of [the] competitive process.”

While Facebook declined to comment on the accusations, Google has not kept quiet. 

“Attorney General Paxton’s ad tech claims are meritless, yet he’s gone ahead in spite of all the facts. We’ve invested in state-of-the-art ad tech services that help businesses and benefit consumers. We will strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court,” a Google spokesperson said.

Where billion- and trillion-dollar behemoths are involved, it can feel like the only real losers are us. Preferential arrangements like those mentioned in the lawsuit harm small companies, consumers and competitors alike and paint a deeply unpleasant picture of Silicon Valley. If nobody is in a position to compete with Google, publishers have fewer places to go and prices for consumers increase. 

So, is Google the dominant search engine because of us or because of unlawful practices? This latest complaint expands on already damning antitrust accusations, and if internal documents do indeed suggest collusion between Google and Facebook, we could be seeing some major changes in the future. Google would likely be forced to sell off parts of its ads business or make changes to policies. But that’s a very big “if,” and it could be months or even years before we reach a resolution – and a potential reckoning.

More SEO News You Can Use

Bing Webmaster Tools Has Added Microsoft Clarity Integration: In a blog, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Clarity, a free-to-use web analytics product launched just over a month ago to rave reviews, can now be accessed within Bing Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t yet added Clarity to your site, you can do it directly from within the Bing Webmaster Tools section named “Microsoft Clarity Beta.” Microsoft also promised more developments to come from the integration in the future, which could mean a huge win for web owners – more data and more analytics means more information to base marketing decisions on.

Google Will be Moving Its Structured Data Testing Tool: While Microsoft is integrating a tool, Google is moving one. Back in July, Google announced it would be deprecating the Structured Data Testing Tool – a decision met with much backlash from the SEO community. Well, Google heard the complaints, and now it looks like the tool will live on in a new domain. In a Google Search Central blog, Google said it would be migrating the Structured Data Testing Tool to schema.org in April 2021. For web owners who had come to rely on the tool for its simplicity and effectiveness, this seems like a pretty decent compromise.

The People Also Ask (PAA) Section Has Expanded in Google’s Search Results: If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed a sharp increase in PAAs in search results, particularly on search engine results pages (SERPs) for exact-match brand searches. A recent study shows that PAA boxes have been spreading like wildfire through brand Knowledge Panels, seeing an increase from one percent in September to nine percent now. The implication is clear: PAAs need to become part of your brand’s digital strategy. Most brands answer very few or even none of their PAA questions. But if they want complete control over their brand message and Knowledge Panel – a valuable piece of SERP real estate – it may be time to optimize for PAA.

Google is Using Augmented Reality (AR) to Let You Try Before You Buy: Who says Google isn’t glamorous? The search engine announced it would be bringing that in-store shopping experience to the Google app by using AR to visualize thousands of makeup products and shades on users. If the experiment is successful, who knows what the future of shopping might look like? AR could make the Google app a highly appealing shopping destination and showcases yet another practical application for Google’s ever-advancing technology. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this feature is received and whether there’s room for expansion to other products.

Twitter Will Shut Down the Periscope App in March 2021: It’s the end of an era. Five years after purchasing the live-streaming video app Periscope, Twitter announced it would begin the process of phasing the app out. Twitter said Periscope has been seeing declining usage over the past several years and that the cost of maintaining the app outweighs its current value. The Twitter Live feature, meanwhile, has already integrated most of Periscope’s core capabilities. Twitter hopes the shuttering of Periscope will allow it to work harder on its own live streaming functionality – something it has been betting on for years, even up against the stiff competition of Facebook Live and Instagram Live.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.



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