Google, EU Deal on Search Includes Search Display Changes

Google will move to improve how it labels ads in its search results and how it displays links to competitors to resolve antitrust allegations in Europe.

Google will make changes to how it displays its search results in Europe to mollify European regulators who have been investigating antitrust allegations against the company since 2010.

Under the deal, Google will provide better labeling of its own promoted content and will improve how it displays links to competitors' online ads, according to an April 25 report by The Associated Press.

The details were released by the European Commission, which is the executive and regulatory arm of the European Union, as the EC continues to work with Google on concessions that will resolve the case.

Under the deal, "Google has offered to more clearly label search results stemming from its own services such as Google News, Google Maps or its shopping and flight search functions," the story reported. "That would allow users to distinguish between natural search results and others promoted by Google. It also agreed to display some search results from its competitors and links to their services."

Proposed under the deal is a plan for a monthlong "market test" of the arrangement to provide competitors, many of whom are behind the antitrust complaints against Google, some time to offer their input into whether the proposed changes are sufficient, the story said. "The objective of this process is to try to see if we can achieve a settled outcome in this antitrust investigation," EC spokesman Antoine Colombani told the AP.

The conditions being laid out by Google and the EC would be in force for five years, according to the story. "If the deal is accepted, Google would avoid a fine and a finding of wrongdoing," which has huge implications for the company.

"If Google were then to break its commitments, the Commission could impose a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual worldwide revenue — that would be close to a whopping $5 billion in Google's case," the AP reported. Google will "clearly separate promoted links from other web search results by clear graphical features" and "display links to three rival specialized search services close to its own services, in a place that is clearly visible to users."

Another change under the proposals is that Google will allow Websites to keep their content out of Google's specialized search services, "while ensuring that any opt-out does not unduly affect the ranking of those web sites in Google's general web search results," according to the report.

The new details surrounding the Google proposals come several weeks after reports began surfacing about a potential deal between the search giant and the EC being accepted to resolve the antitrust allegations.

Under the deal, Google won't have to change the algorithm that produces its search results.