Why the Google Antitrust Lawsuit Matters for Your Business

Antitrust law book on table with pen

Last week the Department of Justice, in combination with eleven state Attorney Generals, moved forward with their antitrust lawsuit against Google.

Google controls over 80% of searches on desktop and 95% on mobile – should you be worried?

What is an antitrust lawsuit?

An antitrust lawsuit is one meant to prevent companies from becoming monopolies or act in unlawful ways. This largely includes activities that prevent free-market competition or stifle innovation.

Why is the DOJ filing an antitrust lawsuit against Google?

The lawsuit argues that Google’s monopoly over search, and search advertising, has all but annihilated their competition.

Why is this bad?

Well, competition is good! Especially in technology. By creating a competitive landscape you force companies to continually innovate. Not only that, but it helps keep pricing competitive. That's what the current Google antitrust lawsuit hopes to address.

In a recent SharpSpring webinar, Rand Fishkin highlighted some statistics that show how Google’s dominance affects their search results:

  • The percent of searches that have resulted in a paid advertising click has gone up by 30-35%
  • The percent of searches that send a user back to a Google product (for example maps, YouTube, flights, or an enhanced Google result, etc.) account for 6% of all searches and 12% of all clicks.
  • The overall percent of searches that have resulted in an organic (non-paid advertising) click has gone down, overall but more on mobile than desktop.

Why does this matter?

It represents a change in Google to keep users “in house”, so to speak when searching. The good thing is that Google is able to capture that data that can help improve search. The bad thing is that, in its current iteration, it starts to affect how easily companies rank using SEO tactics like backlinking and creating quality content. That doesn’t just limit competition for Google competitors but it starts to impact businesses who are working to rank.

Has Google been sued before?

Yes! Google has battled court cases in the past. Including ones similar to the current Antitrust Lawsuit. The European Union, for example, has filed antitrust lawsuits against Google since 2010. Most recently, they fined Google $5 billion dollars IN 2018 and another $1.5 billion euros in 2019 for forcing Android users to use Google apps – limiting competition and innovation. A charge which they deny.

All of these antitrust lawsuits against Google boil down to one thing: choice.

The antitrust lawsuits are working to give people the opportunity to choose which search engine or paid search advertising they would like to use.

If the DOJ wins the case we may see some changes to how search functions. Read what those changes could be here.

Did Google Respond to the Antitrust Lawsuit?

They sure did. On their blog, The Keyword, Google shared a response to the lawsuit.

If you don’t have time to read Google's whole response to the lawsuit, here are the key point:

  • They put their product everywhere so that “Google Search is easily available to people.”
  • Other companies promote their own services, so they should be able to also.
  • The agreements they have with Apple and Microsoft aren’t any different than the ones those companies make with other products.
  • Apple uses Google because it is “the best” but also offers Bing and Yahoo! as search options. It’s a user’s choice whether they use Safari or Google Chrome.
  • Google doesn’t come preloaded on Microsoft – the Edge browser does, which uses Bing.
  • Google has “promotional agreements…to feature Google services” with Android. Android is also preloaded with competitors. They argue that it’s a user's choice to download a different search operator.
  • Google argues that people get search-type information from more than just Google (i.e. Twitter or Amazon).

Stay tuned for updates as the Google lawsuit moves forward.