You may or may not have been following the Google antitrust investigation in Europe. I’ve been writing quite about it over at Search Engine Land. As you may recall the FTC declined to pursue the “search bias” claim in its antitrust settlement with Google.
By comparison the Europeans have expressed concern about Google’s “diversion of traffic” to its own sites (e.g., Maps), which appear at the top of many search results pages, and away from vertical competitors. Today Google’s formal antitrust settlement proposal to the EU came out. You can read about it here.
I later discovered mock-ups of what the new search-results pages will look like under the settlement, which I describe in detail here. With regard to local results, which rivals have complained about, the SERP won’t be that different from today (the EU settlement doesn’t impact non-EU countries).
Here’s an example mock-up of a local restaurant search result:
In the box below the map there’s text that reads “Google Places Search.” This is new and intended to clarify that these results are from Google. Beside that heading are the three links to competitors’ sites. The three links will essentially be drawn from the top organic vertical/directory links that would rank on the SERP otherwise.
The antitrust settlement proposal calls for Google to “display links to three rival specialised search services close to its own services, in a place that is clearly visible to users.” The links cannot be to individual businesses but must be to verticals, aggregators or directory publishers that are effectively alternatives to Google Maps.
The following screen shows how all this will appear in a mobile search context:
Google’s critics have already voiced disapproval of this “remedy.” However they are unlikely to prevail and the Europeans will probably formally accept Google’s proposal (developed in negotiations with the European Commission) at the end of the month-long comment period.
I’m curious whether and how you see the three “top links” impacting the European Google local search experience.