New SERPs are appearing in Germany that prompt users to try alternative directories or search engines for the same local query. This is part of Google’s ongoing effort to comply with the European Commission’s (EC’s) antitrust decision in shopping search.

New local SERPs. The screens below, however, concern local not shopping search results. The EC is in the process of considering a formal action against Google in local search.

Yelp already criticizing as inadequate. The prompt says “ergebnisse finden auf” (find results on). The three buttons are local search and directory sites in Germany. The screens were sent to us by Frank Sandtmann.

Yelp has already seen and criticized these screens as a return to Google’s “rival links” remedy that was presented in 2013 and 2014 and derided by Google competitors as inadequate to generate meaningful traffic. Below is a screen from an eye tracking study Yelp performed on these pages, arguing that the bulk of attention is not focused on the alternative provider buttons.

Eye tracking analysis of results on Google Search.

Why we should care. Google has appealed each of the EC’s multi-billion-dollar antitrust penalties against the company but must comply with the decisions in the interim. What we’re seeing above may be Google’s attempt to preempt a formal complaint in local that could lead to additional billions in fines.

Yelp and other Google critics argue these kinds of changes to the SERP are cosmetic and have an immaterial impact on traffic. They would like to see much more fundamental changes to the SERP. Yelp has produced one eye-tracking study; however, there should be more to determine the actual consumer impact of these pages.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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