Google to change European search results to show comparison sites

Google search results in Europe may start to look a little different in the coming weeks in order for Google to comply with a new regulation called the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the company announced. This means that Google will show more comparison sites within its search results for European users and that some of the vertical search units, like Google Flights, will no longer show up in the main search results.

What Google said. Google explained these changes in their blog post:

Over the coming weeks in Europe, we will be expanding our testing of a number of changes to the search results page. We will introduce dedicated units that include a group of links to comparison sites from across the web, and query shortcuts at the top of the search page to help people refine their search, including by focusing results just on comparison sites. For categories like hotels, we will also start testing a dedicated space for comparison sites and direct suppliers to show more detailed individual results including images, star ratings and more. These changes will result in the removal of some features from the search page, such as the Google Flights unit.

What it might look like. Last July, I spotted comparison sites units in the search results; I covered them at the Search Engine Roundtable.

Here is a screenshot from Kovi on Twitter and Frank Sandtmann on Mastodon from several months ago:

Comparison Sites Google Box 1690280454 778x600
Comparison Sites Google 1690280454 671x600

Some history. In 2020, Google tested a similar feature to list other local search engines; here is what that looked like.

Screen Shot 2020 02 21 At 9.27.05 AM 800x446

In June, 2017 the EC fined Google roughly $2.7 billion for alleged abuse of market position in vertical (shopping) search. Following that decision, which Google is in the process of appealing, Google implemented a number of changes to provide “equal treatment” for rival Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs) in Europe. In 2018, this group said it was only getting worse.

Why we care. If you currently show up in some of these vertical search units that Google shows often at the top of the page, this might impact your traffic and metrics. This should only impact the European search results right now. This also may mean that you need to focus on other vertical search engines, more than you do now.

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About the author

Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.

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