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Redesigning Search would harm American consumers and businesses

Our response to today’s lawsuit about the design of Google Search by state attorneys general:

Google Search is designed to provide you with the most relevant results. We know that if you don’t like the results we’re giving you, you have numerous alternatives—including Amazon, Expedia, Tripadvisor and many others just a click away.

So we keep working to improve our results, designing and rolling out helpful features in Search—including maps, links to products and services you can buy directly, flight and hotel options, and local business information like hours of operation and delivery services.

Look at how our search results have evolved and improved over the years. This is what our search results looked like in 2000—10 blue links, but no other useful features:

Search results page for bread in 2000 showing 10 blue links

And this is what they look like today—more useful information, more direct connections to businesses, more links to websites. Our rigorous testing tells us that you far prefer these types of rich results.

GIF showing a search result for bread on Google in 2020 with rich results

Other search engines like Microsoft’s Bing seem to have heard the same feedback because they have also evolved to provide these kinds of direct results.

Search for Bread on Microsoft Bing in 2020

To get more specifically to the issues raised in today’s lawsuit: it suggests we shouldn't have worked to make Search better and that we should, in fact, be less useful to you. When you search for local products and services, we show information that helps you connect with businesses directly and helps them reach more customers. This lawsuit demands changes to the design of Google Search, requiring us to prominently feature online middlemen in place of direct connections to businesses.   

Redesigning Google Search this way would harm the quality of your search results. And it would come at the expense of businesses like retailers, restaurants, repair shops, airlines and hotels whose listings in Google help them get discovered, and connect directly with customers. They would have a harder time reaching new customers and competing against big commerce and travel platforms and other aggregators and middlemen. 

The data shows that our local results in Search drive more than 4 billion direct connections for businesses every month (such as visits to businesses’ websites, people calling merchants, getting directions to stores, ordering food from restaurants). 

Even as we have added content and features to our search results, the volume of traffic we send to non-Google sites has increased every year since Search was created. Our search results page, which used to show 10 links, now shows an average of 26 outgoing links on mobile devices. 

We drive billions of visits to sites across the web every day and the volume of traffic we’ve sent to non-Google sites has increased every day since Search was created. On average, local results in Google Search drive more than 4 billion connections for businesses every month. This includes more than 2 billion monthly website clicks, as well as other connections like phone calls, directions, ordering food and making reservations. Each month Google connects people with more than 120 million businesses that don’t have websites.

The claims being made have been closely examined and rejected by regulators and courts around the world, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, competition authorities in Brazil, Canada and Taiwan, and courts in the United Kingdom and Germany, who all agreed that our changes are designed to improve your search results. It’s also well established that the most important driver for our search results is the specific query—not your personal data.

A gif showing quotes from regulators: “[Google’s changes to Search] could be seen as providing convenience to users and in line with users’ benefits.” - The Taiwan Fair Trade Commission “Google innovated in order to improve the quality and the experience of Internet searches of users, which is considered pro-competitive conduct.” - The Brazilian Competition Authority (CADE) “[I]t is indisputable that the display of a thumbnail map on the [search engine results page (SERP)] in response to a geographic query indeed enhances the quality of the Google SERP.” - The England and Wales High Court (Chancery Division) In a 5-0 bipartisan decision, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said our product changes were designed to “improve the quality” of search results and “likely benefited consumers.”  “Google’s changes [in Search] are generally made to improve user experiences.” - Competition Bureau Canada

We know that scrutiny of big companies is important and we’re prepared to answer questions and work through the issues. But this lawsuit seeks to redesign Search in ways that would deprive Americans of helpful information and hurt businesses’ ability to connect directly with customers. We look forward to making that case in court, while remaining focused on delivering a high-quality search experience for our users. 

The lawsuit also contains allegations that have previously been made about how we distribute Search, and about our advertising technologies. On those topics, you can read our blog post, and see more specifics on our competition site.

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