Google to make rival services clearer in search results for next five years

Google is to alter search results following an investigation into whether it unfairly promoted its own services. The search giant will change the way that results from the likes of Google Maps and YouTube are labelled, while results from competitors will be displayed closer to its own. 

Promoted links are to be made much more distinct from standard web search results and rivals' content will be placed "close to its own services in a place that is clearly visible to users", said EU Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani. "The objective of this process is to try to see if we can achieve a settled outcome in this antitrust investigation."

The EU Commission suggests that those who use Google aren't fully aware of how it promotes its own services. Other problems include the fact Google's search dominance could prevent potential competition or superior products from competing.

There had been a previous US Federal Trade Commission investigation into Google's approach to displaying links, which concluded there were no competition issues.

"Bing and Yahoo represent a substantial alternative to Google in web searches in the USA; their combined market share is around 30 per cent. In contrast, Google has been holding market shares well above 90 per cent in most European countries," the Commission said.

"The way Google presents its web search results therefore has a much more significant impact on users and on the competitive process in Europe than it does in the USA."

Google's search alterations will likely be tested for a month after EU regulators requested feedback on the changes. The changes to Google search, if accepted by EU regulators, will stay in place for five years.