In a shocking move from across the pond, France and the European Commission may attempt to force the king of the Interwebs (i.e., Google) to give up his crown jewels (i.e., the all-important search algorithm). The decision to bring antitrust charges against Google would echo a similar attempt by the EU against Microsoft, and it would intimate that the EU believes Google has violated Europe’s antitrust laws by unfairly favoring its own properties in search results. Although anticipated by many, if this development succeeds, it could provoke a far-reaching, game-changing, and downright crazy effect. Some even say that France could force Google to give up its algorithm! I know, I know . . . But before we descend into SEO chaos, let’s learn a little more about the EU antitrust case against Google.
EU Antitrust Case Against Google
The EU Commission, led by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, is expected to make formal antitrust charges against Google as early as this week. Google knew this was coming, and they’ve been fighting against it for years with requests to settle. According to various news outlets, their efforts have failed. And if the antitrust charges come to fruition and Google loses, the search engine giant could face fines and damages resulting in a loss of billions of dollars, as well as a heavy blow to its reputation and market cap.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
In addition to the antitrust charges, France is trying to force Google to hand over its algorithm with a new proposal currently in the French senate. This could prompt Google to pull out of Google France, though experts say that reaction is highly unlikely. Since French citizens would undoubtedly be unhappy if Google disappeared, the French government may be pressured to settle the issue through fines.
THE PREDICTED OUTCOME (and some crazy possibilities)
It’s highly unlikely that Google would make their algorithm public, and we also don’t expect them to hand their algorithm over to the French government. However, if they did . . . Look out, folks. This could get crazy!
If Google released their algorithm and every webmaster knew exactly how to optimize their website according to Google’s specifications, the world of SEO would be flipped upside down. This scenario might sound great at first, since you would finally know what Google wants from you in terms of SEO, but you have to remember that everyone else would have the exact same tools. This would level the playing field and make the process of obtaining traffic from organic search results more competitive.
Because of this, the search engine experience would go to the dogs. Users would be confronted with spam websites at the top of SERPs, simply because the webmasters of those sites would know how to follow the algorithm just as well as everyone else. Google wouldn’t be able to manage the influx of spam or the sharp downgrade in user experience, and accordingly, many of their users would flock to other, more reliable search engines. Finally, you might see other search engines stealing Google’s “secret sauce.”
As we said before, this catastrophic reaction is highly unlikely. However, it will be interesting to see how much these EU antitrust charges rattle Google (if at all) and what changes will occur regarding Google’s presence in the EU.
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