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Yandex Accused of Anti-competitive Practices in Russia via @martinibuster

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Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) issued a one month warning to Yandex to stop showing preference to its own sites. Yandex responded that it is serving users and that the complaining companies themselves exclude Yandex on their platforms.

The FAS is a federal government agency tasked with enforcing antitrust laws.

The FAS accused Yandex of monopolistic practices in their search engine by giving preference to their own Internet properties. They are accused of using an interactive widget area to funnel users to their own sites and not giving competitors the opportunity to show up in the interactive sections.

The interactive widget area shows up after the PPC advertising but before the traditional ten blue links.

According to a Russian news report:

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“The Federal Antimonopoly Service issued a warning to Yandex and demanded that it stop discriminating in search results links to companies that are not part of its digital ecosystem. This is stated in the message of the department.

As the FAS established, Yandex in its search results gives an advantage to its own services.”

Competitors have complained about this Yandex feature since at least 2019.

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“Five sites… believe that Yandex restricts access to their services, violating competition law.

“Yandex “, according to these companies, gives priority to the related services via so-called “koldunschikov”. Such responses to user queries appear on the search results page immediately after ads and before organic results (for example, weather forecast, picture, word translation, etc.).

Services unrelated to Yandex cannot access such interactive responses, the authors of the note claim.”

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The key claim is that the interactive widget area excludes non-Yandex companies from appearing there, which they claim is anti-competitive.

Yandex has asserted that they have never downgraded other sites from the organic search results and that the widget areas do not appear for all searches.

In their response, Yandex claimed to be more fair than Google.

Explaining the widget areas in question, Yandex insisted:

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“…they appear in the search results only when they improve the quality of the response to a user’s request. And this is a big difference from the antitrust case in Europe with the Google Shopping service.”

Yandex pointed out that the complaining companies of not showing links back to Yandex services from their sites, in an apparent allegation of hypocrisy.

“We hope that links to Yandex services will be able to appear, for example, on the issue of Avito (Auto.ru and Yandex.Realty), 2GIS (Navigator and Directory), ivi ( Kinopoisk “), on” Kassir.ru “, etc.”

Despite the explanations from Yandex, the FAS accused Yandex of violating anti-monopoly laws and provided a list of conditions they must abide by within a one month period of time.

Search and Social Under Pressure

Search engines and and social networks are under increasing pressure in Europe, Australia and the United States for anti-competitive and monopolistic practices. Yandex in Russia is no exception to that trend as governments try to regulate technology companies.

Searchenginejournal.com

NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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